Advertised as a “heart-healthy” alternative to butter, margarine has been over-recommended for the past 50 years as a way to reduce our intake of saturated animal fat. Some brands are made with phytosterols that can reduce blood cholesterol levels.


Not only has saturated fat been absolved from causing cardiovascular disease, but research shows that margarine has potentially harmful effects. Vegetable oils are liquid at room temperature because they’re predominantly unsaturated fats. Butter and coconut oil, in comparison, are predominantly saturated fat so are naturally solid at room temperature.

To make margarine, vegetable oil must be hydrogenated — a process that involves bombarding the unsaturated fats with hydrogen until they become saturated and solid. During the process of hydrogenation, harmful trans fats are formed. According to a study published in the journal Epidemiology, when margarine first came out, it contained 29% trans fat and, ironically, caused an increased risk of coronary heart disease. These days, there are a lot fewer trans fats in margarine, but even the small amounts that occur are still more than you want.

Another issue is that margarine is very high in linoleic acid, an omega-6 fatty acid. Once in the body, it is converted to arachidonic acid, a precursor to a class of compounds that can trigger inflammation. So in the war between butter vs. margarine, butter is the clear victor.