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Then, new research discovered saturated fat raised our cholesterol and it was thought to increase our risk of heart disease. Over 65 per cent of the fat in butter is saturated and, as a result, butter very quickly topped the ‘bad food’ list and we were forced to search for an alternative.
Margarine, originally produced as a cheap spread, was suddenly promoted as the ‘healthy choice’ and sales quickly overtook those of butter. Scientists soon discovered that the chemical process used to turn oil into a spread, created a type of fat called trans fat, which is even worse for us than saturated fat.
Fast forward to today and the debate continues to rage as to which is the healthier choice – butter or margarine?
The use of butter can be traced as far back as 2000 BC. What could be a more humble and delicious meal than bread and butter? In contrast, margarine was invented as a substitute for butter by a Frenchman in 1870, although only became widely popular during and after the war years.
Today, margarine sales far outweigh butter in most Western Countries, largely due to the perceived health benefits. But can a modern manufactured product, which goes against the nutrition purist’s idea of eating food as close to nature, really be healthier than the fat made from churning wholesome cow’s milk?
As a fairly passionate believer in eating ‘real’ foods as much as possible, I have to confess to struggling with the idea that we can manufacture something that is better for us than a relatively simple food that has been made and consumed by native communities for thousands of years.