Margarine's not bad - but butter's better

Remind me again why butter is so bad? Oh, that’s right. It’s high in fat. Newsflash: we need fat. Good old natural fat, in moderation.

Share
Related Topics

This week’s food hysteria came and went in a matter of hours. The frantic declaration that margarine and non-dairy spreads could cause heart problems and be “worse for you” than butter was followed almost immediately by a debunking.

Research published in the British Medical Journal suggested that [specifically] middle-aged men may be increasing their chances of developing heart disease by eating margarine rather than butter - but the findings are from 40 years ago and have only just been comprehensively analysed, so might have to be taken with a pinch of low-sodium condiment. The NHS sniffly rebuffed it on its website pronto.

So, it’s back to that tub in the fridge, then? Well, not so fast. I’ve always believed we should be suspicious of any food that isn’t presented in its natural state. I’m in danger of boring myself with the mantra “if you can’t pronounce an ingredient, don’t eat it” but as a rule of thumb, it does make sense (no need to respond with a quip about difficulties with tomato/tomato, thanks). Odd additives and formulations occur in processed food. Margarine and other creatively titled non-dairy spreads vary wildly in their components but are all processed, by their very nature.

The name isn’t fake – well, not in the way I’d thought. It turns out to be a myth that margarine got its name from the daughter of its inventor. Which really is a shame, because I’ve always wanted to know if it really should ever have been pronounced marg as in Marjory or marg as in Margaret (yes, there was a time when margarine was said with a hard g). Turns out it relates to margaric acid. Mmmm, there’s nothing like a crumpet dripping with acid, is there?

Everything that manufacturers put into these spreads to make them good for us can be found – in a more natural state – in other foodstuffs. So why the obsession with getting our omegas and our polyunsaturates in one factory-enhanced blob? Remind me again why butter is so bad? Oh, that’s right. It’s high in fat. Newsflash: we need fat. Good old natural fat, in moderation. Nothing better on a spud than butter.

The only people, perhaps, who should be allowed to use margarine are 1) the nice people from the RSPB who used it to clean the waxy residue off seabirds washed up on the Devon coast last month and 2) Mary Berry, who uses it in her cake recipes. It creates, apparently, a lighter sponge. But if you eat a lot of cake, whatever the fat is inside it, you’re on your way to health problems anyway. Eat an apple already.

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Executive

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Retail Buyer / Ecommerce Buyer

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Working closely with the market...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - CAD Software Solutions Sales

£20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A reputable company, famed for ...

Ashdown Group: Client Accountant Team Manager - Reading

Negotiable: Ashdown Group: The Ashdown Group has been engaged by a highly resp...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Brand loyalty: businessmen Stuart Rose (pictured with David Cameron at the Conservative conference in 2010) was among the signatories  

So, the people who always support the Tories... are supporting the Tories? Has the world gone mad?

Mark Steel
Crofter's cottages on Lewis. The island's low population density makes it a good candidate for a spaceport (Alamy)  

My Scottish awakening, helped by horizontal sleet

Simon Kelner
War with Isis: Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria's capital

War with Isis

Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria
Scientists develop mechanical spring-loaded leg brace to improve walking

A spring in your step?

Scientists develop mechanical leg brace to help take a load off
Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock: How London shaped the director's art and obsessions

Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock

Ackroyd has devoted his literary career to chronicling the capital and its characters. He tells John Walsh why he chose the master of suspense as his latest subject
Ryan Reynolds interview: The actor is branching out with Nazi art-theft drama Woman in Gold

Ryan Reynolds branches out in Woman in Gold

For every box-office smash in Ryan Reynolds' Hollywood career, there's always been a misconceived let-down. It's time for a rethink and a reboot, the actor tells James Mottram
Why Robin Williams safeguarded himself against a morbid trend in advertising

Stars safeguard against morbid advertising

As film-makers and advertisers make increasing posthumous use of celebrities' images, some stars are finding new ways of ensuring that they rest in peace
The UK horticulture industry is facing a skills crisis - but Great Dixter aims to change all that

UK horticulture industry facing skills crisis

Great Dixter manor house in East Sussex is encouraging people to work in the industry by offering three scholarships a year to students, as well as generous placements
10 best compact cameras

A look through the lens: 10 best compact cameras

If your smartphone won’t quite cut it, it’s time to invest in a new portable gadget
General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
How Tansy Davies turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

How a composer turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

Tansy Davies makes her operatic debut with a work about the attack on the Twin Towers. Despite the topic, she says it is a life-affirming piece
11 best bedside tables

11 best bedside tables

It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
Italy vs England player ratings: Did Andros Townsend's goal see him beat Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney to top marks?

Italy vs England player ratings

Did Townsend's goal see him beat Kane and Rooney to top marks?
Danny Higginbotham: An underdog's tale of making the most of it

An underdog's tale of making the most of it

Danny Higginbotham on being let go by Manchester United, annoying Gordon Strachan, utilising his talents to the full at Stoke and plunging into the world of analysis
Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police

Steve Bunce: Inside Boxing

Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police