Butter and margarine are seemingly very similar products. Once unwrapped from the paper covering, you probably couldn’t tell the two sticks apart. Used for both baking and cooking, butter and margarine are often interchangeable, but they are very different.
The main difference between butter and margarine is the ingredients they are made from and the types of fats they contain.
Butter is made from heavy cream and often has a richer, creamier flavor. Containing a high-fat content, which contributes to its taste and texture, butter contains cholesterol and saturated fat. In fact, all butter sold in stores in the U.S. must be at least 80% fat by law.
On the other hand, margarine is made from vegetable oils and has a milder, more artificial flavor. Created as a substitute for butter, margarine is mainly made up of vegetable oil, salt, emulsifiers, and sometimes milk.
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Since margarine is primarily made up of vegetable oil, it contains unsaturated fats that serve as “good fats” in the body. However, look for trans-fat-free margarine.
Regarding our health, the butter-vs.-margarine debate often leans toward margarine as the healthier option. However, both have their pros and cons. The bottom line is that both, like most processed foods, should be consumed in moderation.