TOTAL HEALTH Newsletter  May 1998 Vol. I No. 3
MARGARINE & BUTTER - Life In The Fats Lane
Tom Harrelson (Revised 5/16/11)

Let's take a quick look at both products before we go into more detail, so we can get a good general overview on this important subject. Margarine is made from partially Hydrogenated vegetable oil(s) and contain Trans-Fatty Acids (TFAs). These TFAs help raise the melting point and maintain the consistency of the product. Unfortunately, they tend to act very much like saturated fats in the human body, thus undermining robust health by raising the High-Density Lipoproteins (HDL)-bad cholesterol levels. Besides that, these same TFAs don't have to be (and aren't) listed in the ingredients. Butter is made from milk (cow, goat, or sheep's) and contains high amounts of Saturated Fats. And as we already know, these can act to raise the HDL levels. Butter also has a low melting point.

Margarine is a quasi-natural substance, created from a process known as Partial Hydrogenation. And if there is one really great way to RUIN the nutritional value of the Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) that naturally occur in vegetable oils, then that is by the process of Hydrogenation and, even more so, Partial Hydrogenation, as in the case of Margarine.
Hydrogenation: the commercial process by which Natural Vegetable Oils with their Unsaturated Fatty Acids in their cis-state are transformed into a trans-state. This is accomplished by saturating the Carbon atoms with Hydrogen (under pressure) in the presence of a metal catalyst (Nickel, Platinum, or Copper) for 6-8 hrs. at 2480-4100F. This process insures that the natural double Carbon bonds in the Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) are destroyed. The resulting product contains fragmented Fatty Acids and drastically altered molecules derived from these same Fatty Acids.
These derived chemicals can be very toxic to the human body, not to mention the effects of the metal catalyst used. Does our already toxin overburdened bodies really NEED these contaminants? The manufacturers would sure like us to think so, especially since we can get the really great "taste" and spreadability of Margarine. But does this really great "taste" come to us at the expense of our health? And have some of us allowed our taste buds to become so perverted that we can NO longer distinguish a good Natural "taste" from a good (so-called) manufactured "taste"? THINK ABOUT IT!
Partial Hydrogenation: the commercial process of Hydrogenation, that is NOT carried to completion and contains many dozens of resulting intermediate substances. The double Carbon bonds are changed from a cis-configuration to a trans-configuration, thus creating high amounts of Trans-Fatty Acids (TFAs). It is a process that occurs at RANDOM and that is impossible to control the outcome of the varied resulting known and unknown substances.
The created TFAs half-fit into the enzyme and membrane structures of our body's cells. They compete with and block the cis-state EFAs for space in these cells, thus encouraging fatty deposits in many areas of the body such as the Arteries, Heart, Liver, and other organs. Also, they make the Blood Platelets much stickier, thus increasing the likelihood of Blood Clots in the Blood Vessels, which result in Strokes, Heart Attacks, and Circulatory Occlusions. As a matter of note, several researchers found that the TFA content of stick Margarines varied from 4-43% and the WORST part of the study showed that they contained LESS than 5% EFAs. Interestingly, the Dutch government has banned the sale of ALL Margarines that contain TFAs. These findings only present some of the problems with TFAs (see Fats and Oils-Chapter 16/TFAs for more details).
Some of the substances that are created in the process of Partial Hydrogenation are known to interfere with our normal biochemical processes, while others have NOT been studied adequately enough to determine what their effects on our health might be. Research scientists are now saying that they have barely scratched the surface in their study of ALL of the mind-boggling changes, that can and do take place during this process. And since there are so MANY possibilities of different compounds being formed, each and every time this process takes place, it can truly stagger the imagination. What's WORSE, is the fact that the Margarine industry is very hesitant to publicize any information, that already exists on this subject. We can readily see why they wouldn't want to publicize it!
So, we may ask, after reading this information, why Hydrogenate? To begin with, manufacturers (which by the way have POWERFUL lobbies in government) can start with a cheap LOW quality oil and turn it into a very profitable product that could readily compete with Butter for spreadiblity and perhaps in taste. But shouldn't we really ask ourselves, is the risk really WORTH it, considering the facts presented and do we really want to support these GREEDY manufacturers, since they also know these same facts and probably could care less about OUR health?

Now, let's take a look at a Natural product called Butter, in light of it's Fatty Acid content and metabolism in the human body. First of all, Butter contains very LOW amounts of EFAs [only 2% linoleic acid (LA) and virtually NO linolenic acid (LNA)]. This is in contrast with Mother's Milk, which contains 7-14% LA and up to 2% LNA. Butter can't meet up to this standard by a LONG shot! As matter of note, a Vegetarian Mother's milk can contain up to 32% LA and 3% LNA! Next, Butter contains 9% Stearic Acid, 19% Oleic Acid, and 38% Palmitic Acid and these fats compete for the same enzymes, that help to metabolize LA and LNA, so that they can really INTERFERE with the functions of the EFAs! Next, Butter contains Cholesterol, a substance that is really needed for the proper functioning of our cells and the formation of Hormones. Though that's true, Cholesterol usually ends up being deposited in the Arteries, causing Cardiovascular problems such as Heart Attacks, Strokes, and Kidney failure, this resulting from the deficiency of Vitamins, Minerals, and Fiber in most every American's diet, that is required for Cholesterol's metabolism. Maybe Butter shouldn't be blamed for these problems, but then again Butter doesn't contain the necessary factors needed for it's own metabolism. Non-Organic Butter can concentrate pesticides 5-10 times higher than Vegetable Oils and can also contain Antibiotics with their detrimental side effects. Lastly, Butter contains some naturally occuring Trans-Fatty acids, but TFAs that are much more easily digested than the manufactured ones that are contained in Margarine. The very best, that can be said about Butter, is that it is a NEUTRAL fat, NOT good, but then NOT bad either. This now brings us to the question "Is Butter Better Than Margarine?" I'll let you decide that question.

Now, that we know the real story behind these two popular spreads, let's take a look at some alternatives. Some health researchers suggest blending an excellent raw cold pressed Vegetable Oil (NOT Canola Oil) with Butter (1:1 ratio). There are Margarine Substitutes, that are AVAILABLE, but please check them out first, if you want a TOTALLY HEALTHY Body!

Nutrition Almanac 2nd Edition, John D. Kirschmann, pg. 230, ©1984.
Prescription For Cooking & Dietary Wellness, Phyllis & James Balch, M.D., pg.78, ©1992.
Taber's Cyclopedic Medical Dictionary, Clayton L. Thomas, M.D., pgs. 723, 787, 964, & 966, ©1985.
The Nutrition Desk Reference, Robert H. Garrison, Jr., M.A., R.Ph. & Elizabeth Somer, M.A., pgs. 168 & 169, ©1985.
Fats That Heal, Fats That Kill: The Complete Guide to Fats, Oils, Cholesterol and Human Health, Udo Erasmus, ©1999.

If You're Interested In Readng An Online Article, Containing DETAILED Information About This Subject, Please CLICK HERE > Health Risks from Processed Foods and Trans Fats: An interview with Mary Enig, Ph.D.

This Newsletter is UNCOPYRIGHTED, so that you may be copy it FREELY
WITHOUT my Permission, if you copy it ENTIRELY!