It’s a question that comes up time and time again, which is better butter or margarine?

It’s also a question that for some reason insights a lot of emotion – unlike the question of tea verse coffee, people seem to take a firm stance on either side of this debate and will passionately argue their case.

Let’s take a little more objective look at this issue and see if we can’t come to a little less emotive, more rational conclusion. Let’s compare butter vs margarine:


  • Is ‘natural,’ containing only cream, water and salt
  • It contains small amounts of fat soluble vitamins A, D and E
  • It is about 50% saturated fat, which can raise cholesterol levels and ultimately contribute to heart disease
  • It is an animal based product (which has ethical considerations for some)
  • It tastes pretty good


  • It is ‘processed,’ contains a range of ingredients, often including preservatives
  • It often has fat soluble vitamins added
  • Some contain plant sterols that actively lower cholesterol
  • It contains about 50% unsaturated fat and about 20% saturated fat, so is considered healthier for your heart
  • Most margarine these days contain only very small amounts of trans fats (choose products labelled 0.1g per 100g or <0.1%)
  • It is plant based, usually being derived from canola, olive or sunflower, which are often mixed with vegetable fats
  • It spreads really easily so you can better control your portion size (and use it straight from the fridge)

So as you can see there are pros and cons for both butter and margarine that ultimately means the choice is yours depending on your priorities and in consideration of your overall diet.

Neither butter nor margarine is necessary in your diet so you could quiet easily choose not to use either and opt to spread your sandwich or toast with avocado, hummus, a nut butter or ricotta.

In baking you could try replace some or all of the butter or margarine with banana or yoghurt.

Don’t forget that both butter and margarine are considered ‘discretionary’ or ‘extra’ foods and the overall quality of our diet is far more heavily influenced by our consumption of foods within the core food groups, like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, lean meats, legumes, milk, cheese and yoghurt.

Main image courtesy of Shutterstock.com
  • I prefer the natural form of butter in small amounts.


  • I much prefer butter but we only use it in cooking.


  • I read once that margarine was only one ingredient away from being plastic :/ So I stopped buying it. I was concerned with the fat content of butter, so I buy low fat butter, keeps everyone happy


  • This was an interesting mini article. Thanks for posting!


  • As soon as I heard that margarine was only one ingredient away from being plastic, I switched to butter, a low fat one


  • i like butter. I like that it’s not processed!


  • I like butter normally and I do use margarine in my cooking. I also use avocado spread on my toasts!


  • Definitely butter for health reasons. Whilst there is an argument for cutting out fat etc I still prefer to use butter as there are no additives, preservatives or anything else added. And it tastes better. It’s like anything – in moderation!


  • Butter being bad and linked to higher cholesterol is something that with research you will find is an outdated misconception.
    Paleo’s perspective on this is dead on. The body needs those fats to burn instead of being deprived of all the things the body needs, latching onto all the sugars and fructose instead making people gain weight and get unhealthy. The fat in butter isn’t a problem in the amount of unhealthy people, sugars are. There’s people’s stories everywhere of people changing their life and being the healthiest they ever have, with butter and all the ‘bad fat’ foods. That Sugar Film should be a prime example of low fat ‘healthy’ products are actually doing you no favours.

    We switched to organic butter years ago and we have absolutely no regrets.


  • I meant to say that the fat in avocado is regarded by science and nutritionists as very healthy and can aid in weight loss and can raise HDL levels which is good. You see most people fear cholesterol but the fact is everybody has to have it in their bodies. The good cholesterol must be higher than the bad or harmful cholesterol [ LDL ] and then it is all ok. The bad cholesterol is the one that causes plaque build up in our arteries and the good guy Hdl is the one that reduces the plaque.. Think of it as a blow torch action.

    • yeah avocados are the good ones to have


  • This article is thought provoking! I think margarine as such is ok in minute amounts because the theory is it has a hell of a lot of stuff that in used in plastic manufacturing. I know a lady who visited a margarine factory and it is very dark at some time during the process then they add something to it and it makes a nice pale yellow.
    Now the very latest theory on butter is that it has healthy fats in it[ not transverse like margarine] but for it to be really beneficial you have to eat so much of it per day you would be really struggling! They say now that the Fats in butter raise your HDL good cholesterol levels just as the fats in egg yolks do! Scientists have completely turned their theory around on butter and egg yolks. Food for thought!


  • Thanks for the information, interesting to see the difference, I do like butter but always tend to buy the cholesterol lowering expensive margarines, but apparently they don’t work anyway, so perhaps I will just go back to enjoying myself but in moderation, I also recall as a child we lived next door to a dairy and we used to get our milk and cream from there, mum used to make butter frequently, she had wooden butter pats to shape the butter. Now that was delicious.


  • Butter is better! Has three ingredients and you can get a reduced salt version and no salt for cooking. Perfect! Even dogs won’t eat Margarine! Now that tell us something.


  • l use butter and margarine.thanx for the facts.


  • Butter in our house! Although I do like avocado!


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