Stick with butter and pat yourself on the back

I’m grateful my parents had the good sense never to bring margarine into our home when I was growing up. But as a child, I felt deprived. Many of our thoroughly modern neighbors believed the PR machine that claimed margarine had heart health benefits.  

Well, I grew up and learned the facts for myself. And like my parents, I’ve never used this stuff for myself or for my family.

And for that, I’m thankful.

It turns out this indigestible, unpalatable pseudo-food is anything but “heart healthy.” It’s not just that this invented “food” is not better for your heart. It’s worse. Far worse.

A new study funded by the National Institutes of Health suggests that replacing butter with margarine doesn’t decrease your risk of dying from heart disease. In fact, it may even increase it by more than 50 percent!

You may wonder when, exactly, everyone stopped eating butter and started eating margarine.

It actually began in the mid-1960s and mid-1970s. Before then, folks spread regular old butter on their toast.

But by the time President Kennedy tragically left office, most of society began to put aside old traditions in favor of new fads of all kinds, including foods. And newly invented, processed foods became the “norm.” But there was nothing normal or natural about them.

By 1976, many Americans believed margarine was as good as butter, if not better. Remember Kraft’s Parkay™ commercials? It featured a talking tub of margarine mouthing the word “butter” with the lid flapping open. The guy in the bathrobe eating the stuff laughed, shook his head and said, “No. It’s Parkay.” But the tub of margarine kept insisting it was “butter.”

Well, apparently we as a society began to believe that talking tub of margarine. Of course, Kraft Foods had help selling the con. For the last half-century, the government, health experts, and the American Heart Association all urged Americans to give up butter.

Of course, it could have stopped there. But they wanted us to eat  margarine instead of butter! They told millions of Americans this would reduce heart disease.

But if that’s true, why is heart disease a greater problem today than it was 50 years ago…when folks ate regular old butter on their toast?

Well, the new study, shows we were better off eating the buttered toast.

For this study, U.S. researchers looked at data–collected between 1966 and 1973–on nearly 500 men with heart disease.

One group of men received dietary “advice.” They cut out saturated fats, such as butter, from their diets. And they replaced them with polyunsaturated vegetable oils, such as margarine. These men had a 16 percent death rate from heart disease.

The second group of men received no dietary advice. And they made no changes to their diets. But only 10 percent of these men died from heart disease.

These findings challenge the argument that all saturated fats are “bad” and polyunsaturated fats are “good.”

The government-industrial-medical complex spends billions on public “health education.” But their facts are wrong. Dead wrong, if you ask me.

Is it any wonder that we can’t make any real progress against chronic illness?

Here’s the real problem with margarine…

The polyunsaturated oil found in vegetable spreads just aren’t healthy. When heated, these fats turn rancid. They can also turn into trans fats–the worst type of fat. So, I don’t recommend eating polyunsaturated oil or margarine. And you certainly don’t want to cook or bake with it!

You find saturated fats, on the other hand, in real foods like butter, cheese, and meat. These fats do not turn rancid when heated at higher temperatures. And trans-fatty acids do not occur in saturated fats either. Saturated fats are healthy, “essential” fats required by all the cells in the body to maintain their structures. 

There are lots of oils in nature. But only some are fit to eat. Overall, butter is a much healthier choice than vegetable oils like margarine.

Plus, butter just tastes better. 

So the next time you make dinner, sauté your meat and vegetables. Warm up some olive oil in a pan. Then, melt a pat or two of butter into the olive oil. Place your meat or vegetables in the pan. And let them get nice and crispy before you flip them. I like my steaks and vegetables cooked this way.

To make healthy garlic bread, use olive oil with a little butter, cheese, and herbs melted into the spread. Then lightly brown some fresh, crushed garlic in olive oil. Then spread it all on some whole grain bread and broil in the oven for a few minutes.

1. BMJ2013;346:e8707