Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Debunking Popular Margarine Myths

I'm absolutely loving this blog's post, in which many of the popular "margarine myths" are debunked. Major kudos!! Here's the majority of the post: To read the entire thing click here.

Recently I got tons of emails titled "Butter or Margarine- your choice". It's email stating about the bad stuffs about margarine which intends to convince us about the evils of margarine. The email neither cite any sources nor does it include proofs for its claims. I was very doubtful and disturbed by the claims made so I went to do some googling and guess what I found? There was this article from, titled "The Butter Truth". In this article, it explains that some information presented by the email are valid but some are simply meaningless; this destroys the credibility of the "Butter or Margarine- your choice" email.

Email Claims: Margarine is but ONE MOLECULE away from being PLASTIC.
These types of statements (even if they were true) are essentially meaningless. Many disparate substances share similar chemical properties, but even the slightest variation in molecular structure can make a world of difference in the qualities of those substances. [1]
Email Claims: Margarine was originally manufactured to fatten turkeys. When it killed the turkeys, the people who had put all the money into the research wanted a payback so they put their heads together to figure out what to do with this product to get their money back.
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 By the turn of the century, the beef fat in the original recipe had been replaced by vegetable oils. [1]

Email Claims: Margarine contains very high trans fatty acids.
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. [1]

When margarine was first introduced to the marketplace, it was loaded with trans fat. The trans fats were created through hydrogenation – the very process used to solidify liquid vegetable oil into a spread. Just like saturated fats, trans fats increase LDL cholesterol ("bad" cholesterol) and lower HDL cholesterol ("good" cholesterol). In recent years, food manufacturers and the general public began to realize the negative health effects of trans fats. As a result, manufacturers have created non-hydrogenated margarine, which is now widely available. Non-hydrogenated margarine contains no trans fat, and it's softer than the first-generation margarine stick. Instead of hydrogenating liquid vegetable oil, manufacturers now add a tiny amount of modified palm and palm kernel oil to enhance the spreadability of margarine, creating a soft margarine that's trans fatty acid free. [2]

The following table gives us an idea of recommended calories and fat we should take daily and of course, a comparison between butter and margarine. Take note that stick margarine is the first generation margarine (the not so good one).

Judging from the numerical values, it seems like the new margarine is better in terms of less cholesterol but I prefer how the verdict was done on this website. It's a good piece of advice. Here's a print screen of the verdict.

From what I have learnt, whether it's butter or margarine, we just have to take things in moderation. Minimize saturated fats and trans fats intake. That should be sufficient.
Lastly before I end this post, I would like to remind others that what you get from email isn't always the truth, it might be partially correct or in fact entirely wrong. Do more readings and do some thinking on the information you get. Blindly taking in information without learning the truth gets you nowhere. Try not to mislead others by sending email containing hoax. Sometimes a simple Google search can clear up an urban legend. The following is the full email I hate I received.

p/s: So much for the chinese proverb, share something of VALUE with you and you benefit from it, you have a moral obligation to share it with others. Oh, I forgot to mention it's OK to eat margarine.

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