Diabetes & Diet: Butter Versus Margarine

Butter and margarine are two fats that have been on the breakfast table for years. But, are they healthy options?


The great debate has raged on for years. Which spread is better for you? It is butter, which is free of unhealthy trans fats. Or is it margarine which has lower saturated fats and contains no cholesterol. Both are soft, spreadable, and delicious on toast. Yet, each comes from very different origins.

What is Margarine?

A butter alternative, margarine is made by adding hydrogen to vegetable oil to thicken and solidify it. This makes a spreadable product used as a topping on bread, to pan fry food, or even as a fat in baked recipes.

It has long been touted as a healthier option to butter because it lacks cholesterol. However, recent research has led the medical industry to put less emphasis on cholesterol in foods and more on saturated fats and trans fats. Margarine doesn’t contain any saturated fats, but some margarine brands do contain trans fats.

What is Butter?

This animal product is the fat that is separated from cream during the churning process. Most butter on the market comes from cows. This product was not recommended for a long time due to containing about seven grams of saturated fat per tablespoon and 30 milligrams of cholesterol per tablespoon.

Doctors are easing up a little bit on the ban these days. There are healthier options available, such as butter blended with olive oil or canola, and whipped butter. Plus, the idea is to have less than 10% of your diet be saturated fats. This is about 20 grams of saturated fats per day.

Which is Better?

If you eat a lot of toast, you may want to stick with margarine. Just look for a brand without trans fats and with the lowest amount of saturated fat you can find. You might also want to look for tub margarine as this is fewer calories.

Whipped butter is also much healthier compared to sticks of butter, with half the fat and calories. It is still better to consider butter an occasional treat to help minimize a number of saturated fats you eat.


Which Butter (or Spread) Is Better? URL Link. Accessed November 4th, 2017.

Fats. URL Link. Accessed November 4th, 2017.