Why I Don’t Eat Margarine
I haven’t had margarine since I was probably 10 years old. After the propaganda of ‘fat will block your arteries and kill you” in the 80’s and 90’s, we’ve come a long way to understanding why that isn’t so and why (good) fats are necessary for a healthy body and brain, but also why those low-fat “healthy” alternatives are so often terrible for our health, with margarine being a biggie!
WHAT’S IN MARGARINE?
Margarine is typically made from a range of vegetable oils, milk, salt, emulsifiers, colors, flavors, preservatives, food acid, maltodextrin, vitamins A and D amongst other things. To some people, this might sound OK – vegetable oils, vitamins with a few “less desirables” but hey, what are you going to do? We all know we need fewer additives, preservatives, colors, and flavors, but what about the big players in this process?
- Palm Oil
- Sunflower Oil
- Soybean Oil
- Canola Oil
- Peanut Oil
Whilst the term “vegetable oil” may sound harmless, unlike olive oil (that’s squeezed from crushed olives), most vegetable oils undergo a long and arduous process that makes the product palatable for sale. Let’s use Canola oil as an example. According to the Weston A. Price Foundation experts Sally Fallon and Mary Enig, the process of preparing canola oil for sale is as follows:
“Like all modern vegetable oils, canola oil goes through the process of refining, bleaching, and degumming — all of which involve high temperatures or chemicals of questionable safety. As canola oil is high in omega-3 fatty acids, which easily become rancid and foul-smelling when subjected to oxygen and high temperatures, it must be deodorized. The standard deodorization process removes a large portion of the omega-3 fatty acids by turning them into trans fatty acids. Although the Canadian government lists the trans content of canola at a minimal 0.2 percent, research at the University of Florida at Gainesville found trans levels as high as 4.6 percent in commercial liquid oil. The consumer has no clue about the presence of trans fatty acids in canola oil because they are not listed on the label.”
Trans fats are the ones we want to avoid. Why? Firstly, they have been linked to inflammation and calcification of arteries, which are well-established risk factors for coronary heart disease. High levels of trans-fats have also been linked with breast cancer as well as pre-eclampsia, obesity, colon cancer, diabetes, allergies, and more.
But what about trans-fat free margarine? Well, this is where it all gets a little science-based BUT according to McGill University in Canada:
“A liquid fat that has mostly unsaturated fatty acids connected to its glycerol backbone is mixed with a solid fat such as glyceryl tristearate. The solid fat can be made by total hydrogenation of a vegetable oil such as soybean oil. Total hydrogenation gets rid of all the double bonds and does not produce any trans fats”
In short, the oil is once again, heavily processed to produce a spreadable option. It’s not real food.
Emulsifiers are used to combine two ingredients that normally don’t mix together, i.e. oil and water or oil and vinegar. Emulsifiers are used frequently in food manufacturing to stabilize processed foods.
What are the health effects? One study suggests emulsifiers have the potential to damage the intestinal barrier, leading to inflammation and increasing our risk of chronic disease.
Another study discovered that feeding mice common emulsifiers resulted in an altered gut microbiome, with reduced numbers of bacteria considered beneficial to health, and increased levels of inflammation-promoting microbes. The research also discovered that once healthy mice who had been fed emulsifiers ate more food and gained more weight (especially body fat), had higher blood sugar levels, and were resistant to the action of insulin AKA metabolic syndrome. A huge player in the health epidemic.
HOW IS BUTTER MADE?
Butter is made by churning fresh or fermented cream or milk, sometimes with a little salt. That’s it.
I know which one I’d rather 🙂