Butter versus Margarine

While the propaganda mill of the industry has hoodwinked us into thinking that their counterfeit copy is better – the real reason is the considerable profit that margarine, and other processed foods bring over the more expensive natural products. The cost of margarine, based on denatured vegetable oil that costs only a few cents per bottle, is advantageous compared to good butter, which may cost several times more. This provides considerable pricing advantage. It is up to you, the individual consumer, to show with your dollars which products you’d rather have. Dr. Weston A Price’s older out of print edition of Nutrition and Physical Degeneration mentioned below is available free from Soil and Health Library till the copyright laws change and this gem will be removed. In the rush to lower cholesterol, many health authorities recommend eating margarine instead of butter. However, there is more to consider about margarine than just cholesterol.

What Is Margarine?

‘Hardening’ vegetable oil by bubbling hydrogen through it at high temperatures produces margarine. The hydrogen saturates some of the carbon-carbon bonds of the oil. The product then becomes hard or solid at room temperature. When the carbon bonds are saturated, the product is called a saturated fat. Margarine contains some saturated fat. Otherwise it would not be hard at room temperature. The ads and the packaging for margarine are often deceptive. Advertising often states it contains ‘polyunsaturated oil’. However, the processing saturates or partially saturates the oil. Margarine begins as chemically-extracted, refined vegetable oil.

This is a poor quality product to begin with. The high temperatures needed to produce margarine destroys any vitamin E, and perhaps other nutrients left in the oil. Also, the final product contains trans-fatty acids. These are man-made fatty acids. Research shows that trans-fatty acids increase inflammation in the body. This can worsen illnesses such as colitis and arthritis. Very recent research indicates that trans-fatty acids in margarine raise LDL levels. LDL is the “bad” cholesterol. Hardening agents used in the production of margarine include nickel and cadmium. Nickel is a toxic metal that in excess causes lung and kidney problems. Cadmium is among the most toxic of the heavy metals. It may contribute to serious diseases such as arteriosclerosis, high blood pressure and malignancy.

What Is Butter?

Cream is the raw material for butter. Butter is a partially saturated fat, just like margarine. However, butter is a natural product that does not contain trans-fatty acids. Butter is an excellent source of fat-soluble vitamins such as vitamin A, D, E and K. These are not found to any degree in margarine. The vitamin content of butter varies seasonally, depending on the diet of the animals from which it is derived. Butter also contains some milk solids, giving it a whitish color. Ghee or clarified butter does not contain the milk solids.

Dr. Weston Price identified a factor in butter that is essential for proper growth and development of the bone structure. He called it ‘activator X’ and wrote about it in his book, Nutrition and Physical Degeneration. Dr. Price was able to reverse severe tooth decay in children by feeding them one meal a day of highly nutritious food – including butter. Although many people are sensitive to cow’s milk dairy products, often butter is well- tolerated. This is because butter is almost a pure fat, and does not contain many of the allergens found in other milk products. Butter made from certified, raw (unpasteurized) cream is available in some areas. It the best quality butter available next to making it from your own cow.

Is Avoiding Butter the Way to Control Cholesterol?

The observations of many natural health practitioners indicate that a balanced body chemistry is the key to normalizing cholesterol. Dr. William Koch, MD, an eminent physician, wrote:

“Cholesterol … is no problem when the oxidations are efficient and diet is sensible. In all our observations, high levels drop … it steadies to a good normal when the oxidations are reestablished to normal.” (Normal oxidations refers to the efficient burning of food and the generation of adequate energy from food.)

Most cholesterol is manufactured within the body. A maximum of about 4% of all cholesterol comes from the diet. Cholesterol is the raw material for the adrenal stress hormones and the sex hormones. The body often reacts to stress by producing more cholesterol. This allows the body to make more stress-fighting hormones. As biochemical stress is reduced through a scientific nutrition program, cholesterol levels often decrease without the need for restrictive diets.

In fact, eating some animal products often helps balance body chemistry. In these instances, cholesterol levels or the cholesterol/HDL ratio improves although the diet contains cholesterol-containing foods. In general, fast oxidizers or fast metabolizers can eat more butter and other fatty foods. True fast oxidizers run lower cholesterol levels. They also burn up fats more rapidly and efficiently. Slow oxidizers should restrict all fats and oils, including butter. However, a small amount of butter (1 teaspoon daily) may be eaten by slow oxidizers.


The argument for eating margarine and other products containing hydrogenated oils are their lack of cholesterol. Margarine is also less expensive than butter. However, margarine contains refined, artificially saturated vegetable oil. It also contains harmful trans-fatty acids, and often residues of the toxic metals nickel and cadmium. Butter is a natural food and a good source of important fat-soluble vitamins. You will pay more for butter, but nutritionally it is well worth it.

Author: Lawrence Wilson