I had to smile when I read this headline: "At last, the truth: Butter is GOOD for you — and margarine is chemical gunk."
I was very young when margarine became a big 'health fad'. Doctors everywhere started telling people that margarine could help lower cholesterol and before we knew it, margarine became one of the biggest allies in the great cholesterol con.
The main reason for this is that butter is classed as saturated fat. The mainstream has been telling us for decades that saturated fat is one of our hearts' biggest enemies.
All change please
The truth is, if butter was really that bad for you, I still can see no reason for replacing it with margarine, which is a highly synthetic and unpleasant-tasting concoction laced with additives and cheap, low-grade oils refined on an industrial scale.
In recent years, evidence has grown proving that margarine certainly is not a healthier option over butter. Contributing editor for The Cholesterol Truth and health expert Dr John Biffa, has been warning for years that decades of government health advice, particularly in regard to heart disease, cholesterol levels and the consumption of fats and oils, has been plain wrong.
The latest US research confirms this fact once again. After reanalysing a study originally carried out in the late 60s and early 70s, researchers have confirmed that margarine is actually more damaging to your health than butter.
Taking a sample of middle-aged Australian men who had either experienced a heart attack or suffered from angina (chest pain due to ischaemia of the heart muscle), half of the men were advised to cut their animal fat intake and replace it with safflower oil (which is similar to sunflower oil) and safflower oil margarine, while the other half continued to eat as normal.
You'd expect that if decades of government health advice were right and margarine really was better for you, the men who switched to safflower oil would live longer and have better health outcomes. The exact opposite turned out to be true.
Participants who ate more safflower-derived products were almost twice as likely to die from all causes, including heart disease. Suddenly, the once widely accepted wisdom that saturated fats are bad for you is looking very shaky.
Dr. John Briffa has mentioned before that natural saturated fats — like those contained in dairy and meat — may actually turn out to be good for you. These fats are key components of cell membranes, essential for the production of certain hormones and have an important role to play in the transport and absorption of certain vitamins and minerals, like vitamin D.
Another recent study, a meta-analysis from America, covering almost 350,000 people, concluded that there is, and never was, any good evidence linking intake of dietary saturated fats with blocked coronary arteries and heart disease.
These findings are completely at odds with decades of official health advice telling us to cut down on our consumption of animal fats. Everything we were told to believe as the gospel truth turns out to be plain wrong. Butter isn't bad for you; in fact, it's healthy when eaten in moderation, as it is high in vitamins, beneficial saturated fats, the sort of cholesterol that is vital for brain and nervous system development and various natural compounds with anti-fungal, antioxidant and even anti-cancer properties.
In the early days, margarine was made with 'hydrogenated fats', which were so dense that solid concrete couldn't have done a better job of blocking your coronary arteries. This prompted food-processing giants to go back to their laboratories and reformulate their product. The result was margarine made of 'interesterified' vegetable oils (a treatment that rearranges the fat molecules under a high temperature and pressure, using enzymes or acids as catalysts). It made the oils less dense and therefore, they hoped, less damaging to our health.
Saying something is 'less damaging' to my health, immediately sets off alarm bells in my head. With evidence mounting against the mainstream's health advice about saturated fat and cholesterol, it's no wonder that our faith in the advice of health officials is slowly melting away... like butter on a hot scone.
Agora Health: Daily Health eAlert, published online 12.02.13
Saturated Fat: Not the villain it's made out to be, published online 03.10.12, thecholesteroltruth.com
At last, the truth: Butter is GOOD for you - and margarine is chemical gunk, published online, 07.02.13, dailymail.co.uk