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

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

Argyll Scott International: Senior Business Analyst- Insurance

Negotiable: Argyll Scott International: Senior Business Analyst - Insurance ...

Recruitment Genius: Property Manager

£25000 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This independent, growing Sales...

Recruitment Genius: Graphic Designer

£16000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Multi-skilled graphic designer ...

Austen Lloyd: Court of Protection Solicitor

£30000 - £50000 per annum + EXCELLENT: Austen Lloyd: Court of Protection Solic...

Day In a Page

Read Next
A CCTV camera is seen in front of a large poster opposite in central London  

Home Office is creating more powers to turn everyone into suspects – but leave us no safer

Shami Chakrabarti
 

David Mellor has been exposed as an awful man, but should he have been?

Simon Kelner
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game
There's a Good Girl exhibition: How female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising

In pictures: There's a Good Girl exhibition

The new exhibition reveals how female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising
UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover - from advent calendars to doll's houses

UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover

It worked with cupcakes, doughnuts and macarons so no wonder someone decided to revamp the humble biscuit
Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

It's no surprise that the building game born in Sweden in 2009 and now played by millions, has imitators keen to construct their own mega money-spinner
The King's School is way ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology

Staying connected: The King's School

The school in Cambridgeshire is ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology. Richard Garner discovers how teachers and pupils stay connected
Christmas 2014: 23 best women's perfumes

Festively fragrant: the best women's perfumes

Give a loved one a luxe fragrance this year or treat yourself to a sensual pick-me-up
Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?
Nightclubbing with Richard Young: The story behind his latest book of celebrity photographs

24-Hour party person

Photographer Richard Young has been snapping celebrities at play for 40 years. As his latest book is released, he reveals that it wasn’t all fun and games
Michelle Obama's school dinners: America’s children have a message for the First Lady

A taste for rebellion

US children have started an online protest against Michelle Obama’s drive for healthy school meals by posting photos of their lunches