Margarine versus Butter

Original question: ‘A friend keeps plaguing me over the margarine versus butter debate, and I always cite trans fatty acids as the reason that I advocate ‘sticking to butter’.
I received a letter from a nutritionalist that states a higher percentage of trans fatty acids in butter than in Olivio(TM). Could this be correct????’

This poses an interesting question. I have also always advocated using ‘just a little butter’ myself, because way back in the recesses of my memory I thought I could remember reading information to the effect that trans fatty acids were not only another cause of raised cholesterol levels, and interfered with fatty acid function, but were also a possible cause of cancer.

Research showed that ‘statistically’ the increasing levels of trans fatty acids in our diets were closely associated with the increasing cancer incidence. This could well be true, but to be fair many other sources of unhealthy foods have also risen over the last 80 years or so (including the huge increase in sugar consumption) so I am not sure how much weight to put on this observation.

Also, this was back in the days prior to the introduction of products such as Olivio. Originally many margarines did have a relatively high level of trans fatty acids and their only claim to healthy eating was that they had a lower saturated fat percentage than butter.

Nowadays there are several margarines on the market that not only have a lower saturated fat level than butter but also have fewer or no trans fatty acids. Olivio is one of these.

These products have extra saturated fat added to achieve a soft consistency instead of hydrogenated oils. Therefore they do have a slightly higher saturated fat level than some
other margarines but still lower than butter.

Butter has a small percentage of naturally occurring trans fatty acids so as far as I can determine the said nutritionalist is correct.

However to continue the debate further there are some researchers that say that the factory produced trans fatty acids have a different effect in the body than do the naturally occurring trans fatty acids.
On searching the internet I have not been able to source much relevant information to back this up, so I’ll leave that debate open. Admittedly you still have to decide which of the two products is the better for you and take into consideration that all margarines have various additives included to make them look and taste the way they do.