What Is Margarine Made From?
Margarine is a manufactured mixture of vegetable fats and oils. Margarine was created in the early 1800s as an inexpensive substitute for butter. Most people cannot tell margarine from butter, they look and taste very much alike. Margarine is mostly fat, just as butter is. But the fat does not come from cream as the fat from butter does.
Margarine is made by mixing water and salt with vegetable fats and oils such as those obtained from cottonseed, peanuts, and corn. Skim milk is added to give margarine a taste like butter. Margarine is colored to make it yellow. The food value of today’s margarine is equal to that of butter.
Margarine usually tops butter when it comes to heart health, as it is made from vegetable oils, so it contains unsaturated “good” fats — polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. These types of fats help reduce low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or “bad,” cholesterol when substituted for saturated fat.
Butter, on the other hand, is made from animal fat, so it contains more saturated fat. But not all margarines are created equal — some margarine contains trans fat. In general, the more solid the margarine, the more trans fat it contains. So stick margarines usually have more trans fat than tub margarines do.
Trans fat, like saturated fat, increases blood cholesterol levels and the risk of heart disease. In addition, trans fat lowers high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or “good,” cholesterol levels. So skip the stick and opt for soft or liquid margarine instead. Look for a spread that doesn’t have trans fats and has the least amount of saturated fat.