Oh, margarine, how you spread across a piece of toast, offering your fake, chemical-laced “butter” to every crack and crevice. Having a fairly extensive and rocky history, margarine has seen its ups and downs in terms of the public, government and dairy industry.
The “war on fat” caused people to avoid butter, looking for healthier, cheaper alternatives. What was once recommended as the “heart-healthy” choice is nothing more than a questionable spread. If you’re a margarine fan, here are five reasons to toss it away and never look back.
Trans fats increase your risk of death by 34 percent
Trans fats are everything you should avoid — they’re bad for your heart, raise LDL or “bad” cholesterol levels and increase your risk of type 2 diabetes. Trans fatty acids are simply artificial, partially hydrogenated oils. Highly processed, margarine is formed when hydrogen is added to liquid vegetable oil in order to solidify the oil.
Within a 2015 meta-analysis and review, researchers reported the negative health effects of trans fats. The consumption of trans unsaturated fatty acids was associated with a 34 percent increase in all-cause mortality. Also, a two percent increase in energy from trans fats increased the risk of coronary heart disease by 25 percent, as well as a 31 percent increase in coronary heart disease mortality.
Margarine lowers the quality of breast milk
Studies have reported that mothers who consume trans fats reduce the quality of their breast milk. One study compared Canadian and Chinese breast-feeding mothers. It reported that Canadian mothers had 33 more trans fats in their milk in comparison to Chinese mothers.
Interestingly, a study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that infants whose mothers consumed more than 4.5 grams of trans fats daily were twice as likely to have high body fat. Of course, this is highly significant to new moms or women trying to become pregnant; however, it’s a clear message to everyone: Trans fats increase the risk of significant health complications.
Hydrogenated oils increase exposure to free radicals
A lifestyle that focuses on highly processed foods, smoking, radiation and other environmental sources of free radicals automatically increases your risk of disease. When margarine is produced, it’s heated to extremely high temperatures, destroying antioxidants while increasing free radicals.
Free radicals are inevitable, especially due to the aging process. With that being said, you can control and prevent free radicals based on lifestyle choices. Due to the ingredients in margarine, regular consumption increases inflammation in your body. When ingesting highly processed foods such as margarine on a daily basis, you increase the risk of DNA damage, reduced red blood cell function, premature aging and more.
Margarine is nothing more than spreadable chemicals
Unlike grass-fed organic butter, which actually offers nutrients, margarine is void of natural vitamins and minerals, yet packed with chemical additives. Sure, many margarine products are advertised as being a source of omega-3 fatty acids — yet these fats often come from less beneficial sources, such as soybean and canola oil.
It may look like butter, but before coloring is added, margarine is more of an off-white to gray color. When margarine was first introduced, in order to mimic butter, artificial dyes were used. Throughout World War II, margarine was even sold in plastic bags that included a small packet of dye that consumers could add and knead into the spread.
Due to a ban on yellow dye, manufacturers began mixing vegetable oils with animal fat to produce a more “natural” look when comparing their products to butter. Today, color additives continue to be used and certain additives do not need to be declared by name on the labels of many foods, including margarine.
One of the main colorings used for margarine in the past was yellow #6, an additive that is derived from petroleum. Although many companies are feeling pressure to source more natural alternatives, don’t be fooled by “natural coloring” on the ingredient list. There’s nothing natural about margarine — especially in terms of how your body responds to it.
May encourage the onset of allergies
Throughout the literature, many researchers have hypothesized that margarine is associated with allergic diseases, especially among children. A study published in Pediatric Allergy and Immunology examined the relationship between butter, margarine, eczema, and allergic sensitization in two-year-old children.
After collecting data on 2,582 children, researchers found that predominant margarine intake was linked to a lifetime prevalence of eczema and increased allergic sensitization to inhalant allergens. In comparison, this association was not found for butter intake. Further research needs to be conducted in order to determine whether margarine is to blame or the overall lifestyle of these children.
Within the 1970s, Americans were consuming an average of 10 pounds of margarine per person per year. In 2014, an average of 5.6 pounds of butter was consumed in comparison to 3.5 pounds of margarine. It appears that there’s been a dramatic shift in margarine consumption, however, millions still continue to consume it on a daily basis. If you are one of them, think twice before purchasing that next tub.
Krista Hillis is passionate about nutrition, mental health, and sustainable practices. She has her Bachelors in Psychology and Neuroscience and is still active in her research. Studying both the body and mind, she focuses on natural health and balance. Krista enjoys writing based on her ability to inspire others and increase overall awareness.