Pass the Butter and Snopes.com

What snopes.com has to say about:

The Butter Truth

      Claim:   Ingestion of some types of margarine increases the risk of
      coronary disease. 
   
Back in 2003 we compiled the following comparison chart for various brands of margarine as they were then formulated. Numbers given in grams refer to how many grams of each particular type of fat there are per tablespoon of that brand. (A tablespoon of butter or margarine contains 14 grams.)   Numbers given as percentages represent the impact of one tablespoon of that spread on the recommended daily allowance of that substance.  Margarines sampled were of the “tub” variety. (The same margarines in “stick” form had consistently higher numbers.)

Total FatSaturated (Polyunsaturated) (Monounsaturated)
            Butter11g (17%)7g (36%)00
            I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter10g (15%)2g (10%)4.5g4.5g
            I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter Light5g (8%)1g (5%)2.5g1.5g
            Parkay8g (13%)1.5g (8%)4g2g
            Fleischmann’s9g (14%)1.5g (10%)4g3g
            Blue Bonnet7g (14%)1.5g (10%)3g2g
            Imperial7g (10%)1.5g (7%)3g1.5g
            Country Crock (Shedd’s Spread)7g (10%)1.5g (7%)3g1.5g

Because butter is an animal product, it contains cholesterol, amounting to 
30 mg per tablespoon or 10% of the USDA recommended daily allowance. 
Margarines, because they are non-animal products, do not. The preceding 
chart says nothing about which margarines contained trans fats (or, if 
 they did, how much) because this information was not always included on 
 product labels back then.

 Since the issuance of warnings and regulations about trans fats in the 
last few years, many margarine producers have reformulated their products. I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter, for example, now (in 2006) bears a notice on its label proclaiming “NO TRANS FAT,” and the amount of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fat per serving has dropped from 4.5g each to 4g (polyunsaturated) and 2g (monounsaturated) per serving.

Although a great deal of the information given in the e-mail is valid, one 
bit of intelligence is nothing more than hyperbole tossed in by the author 
in an effort to make his point more strongly. The claim that some 
comestible is but a “single molecule away” from being a decidedly inedible 
(or even toxic) substance has been applied to a variety of processed 
foods.  Some of the “Butter vs. margarine” mailings circulated in 2005 had this preface tacked onto them:  Margarine was originally manufactured to fatten turkeys. 

 Contrary to the claim, margarine was not invented as a turkey fattener.  It 
was formulated in 1869 by Hippolyte Mège Mouriès of France in response to 
Napoleon III’s offering of a prize to whoever could succeed at producing a 
viable low-cost substitute for butter. Mège Mouriès’ concoction, which he 
dubbed oleomargarine, was achieved by adding salty water, milk, and 
margaric acid to softened beef fat. By the turn of the century, the beef 
fat in the original recipe had been replaced by vegetable oils.

In 1886, New York and New Jersey prohibited the manufacture and sale of 
yellow-colored margarine, and by 1902, 32 U.S. states had enacted such 
prohibitions against the coloration of the spread. (Folks got around this 
by mixing yellow food coloring into the white margarine.) In 1950 
President Truman repealed the requirement that margarine be offered for 
sale only in uncolored state, which led to the widespread production of 
the yellow margarine that has come to be the norm.

The URL for this page is http://www.snopes.com/food/warnings/butter.asp

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9 Responses to “Pass the Butter and Snopes.com”

  1. ohiodale Says:

    I will stick to the natural substance, butter. Snopes does not do a good job on this investigation since they do not explain that fat is good for you. The bad fats are the chemically altered fats that are found in ALL processed foods and yes in margerine. The US has been on a fat craze for the last 20 years and it has not helped at all and in fact has hurt. I was born with common sense and common sense tells me to eat natural foods not chemically produced foods. Why is diabetes, cholesterol , heart disease, obesity, prostate cancer, and other cancers higher today. It is because of chemically altered foods, including meats, milk, eggs, any food that comes in a box, and household chemicals we use every day.

  2. Gert Hough Says:

    Incredible! Although I kind of like the way that the author use the facts to enforce the whole idea of scaring people away from eating margerine. Good to know the facts and one thing I know is that it would be even better not to use butter at all – a better solution would be to make your own butter but to make it from natural foods that are good for you – such as as nuts.

  3. Marie Says:

    I was raised in Scotland durig World War II. Butter was rationed and we received “margarine” as a substitute. To me, even at a young age, it looked like lard, to which my mother would add something to give it a yellow color. My mother spoiled me by saving the real rationed butter for me. To this day, I cannot stomache any type of margarine. Thank God I no longer had to face this problem since coming to the USA.

    • JoAnn Says:

      Yes, I remember my mother adding yellow coloring to the oleo back in the 1950s. So glad real butter is available. To this day I bake with real butter, not Crisco shortening or margarine.

  4. Matt Says:

    It is important to define what we mean when we use the word “refine”. The real, unadulterated food item here is milk. Butter is milk refined to remove most of the moisture protein and carbohydrates, leaving what is basically milk fat. Purifying milk to this extent leaves a food so energy dense that we can only realistically consume very small amounts of it without exceeding our energy requirements. This is a problem with most foods today, where we have conentrated the energy nutrients and removed water and indigestible material (fibre) which our digestive system needs to function effectively. There are definitely different levels of refining, and refining methods which are questionable, but I don’t think that butter is truly natural. On the other hand, whether or not something is natural is practically irrelevant when it comes to how it effects our health when consumed.

  5. Marilyn Current Says:

    Something not addressed here: Butter, being a natural, unrefined product, comes complete with its original (and very important) nutrients, whereas margarine (most kinds) are made from refined oils – stripped of all things that can spoil (important nutrients). We Americans are over fed and undernurished – and that’s how we get this way – eating refined “food” products. The key is, eat the REAL thing, but don’t eat too much!

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