Ask Amelia Food Comparisons Nutrition

Butter vs. Margarine. Which is best?

butter or margarine

Nutrition experts have varying opinions when it comes to butter vs. margarine.  But for me, it comes down to a quote I heard about 10 years ago in graduate school:

“Who do you trust more: cows or chemists?”

I’m not sure who said this, but I am sure about the answer. Cows! Chemists are impressive, but nothing they create in a lab is gonna make it onto my morning toast.

Here are my reasons for preferring butter:
  • It has only 1 ingredient, or two if you buy salted
  • Butter from pasture-fed cows may contain some heart-healthy fats
  • I think the taste is far superior to any alternative
  • The texture and taste allow you can use less, which keeps calories under control
What to look for when buying butter:
butter or margarine
If you choose margarine, look for:
  • No “partially hydrogenated oil” in the ingredients list. This is a sign of trans fat. (Even if the label says “No trans fat” there may still be up to 0.5 grams per serving if there is any hydrogenated oil present).
  • Earth Balance (the best choice) or Smart Balance.
  • Spread rather than sticks. Nearly all the sticks contain hydrogenated oils.
  • Organic or Non-GMO.

As with all fats, butter and margarine are high in calories and need to be used in small amounts no matter which you choose.

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  • Sarah (The Simple Dietitian)
    March 8, 2013 at 10:35 am

    I’m right there with you on this one!! I can’t imagine anything else BUT butter on my toast. I also like Earth Balance, which is always in the house for when my brother visits (he’s vegan,) but I usually opt for the rich, buttery flavor that I love. And you’re right, a little certainly does go a long way. Great post! 😀

  • Amelia
    March 9, 2013 at 10:26 pm

    Thank you, Sarah! Butter is just so darn good 😉

  • Shawn
    July 22, 2015 at 12:57 pm

    Which earth balance spread do you recommend? They’re are quite a few varieties.. Soy free, original…


  • Amelia Winslow
    July 23, 2015 at 2:34 pm

    I like the original earth balance, but it’s really a matter of preference.

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