Organic ButterIs butter good for you? Now, at least for me, that’s become a good question to ask. But, in order to answer that question, we have to have something to compare butter with. Let’s compare butter versus margarine.

Again, I studied from the Nourishing Traditions cookbook by Sally Fallon with Mary G. Enig, Ph.D.

What is butter?

One churns (stirs or agitates) milk or cream long enough and you come up with butter. Butter comes from cows’ milk usually, and machines are used to churn the milk or cream until it turns to butter. Assuming the butter is organic, that’s it. No further "ingredients" to make it last longer on the shelf. Or some ingredient used for coloring to make it look yellow.

What is margarine?

I visited a store and wrote down the ingredients to a famous margarine. You start with vegetable oils. In this case corn oil and soybean oil. Add hydrogen (which makes it hydrogenated vegetable oil). Add whey (the watery part of milk after it has been made to curdle), water and salt. Add emulsifiers (this means an agent used to make oil droplets mix with water), in this case mono- and diglyceride and soy lecithin. I added a simple definition of mono-and diglycerides:

Mono- and Diglycerides are common food additives used to blend together certain ingredients, such as oil and water, which would not otherwise blend well.

Also added: vitamins A and D3, an unidentified artificial flavoring, vitamin A palmitate (a fatty acid obtained from saturated fats; in this case obtained from vitamin A). Colored with Beta Carotine. Potassium sorbate and sodium benzoate added as preservatives. Yes, this will last long on the shelf. Also, this famous-brand margarine said that it "contains: milk and soy." Your guess is as good as mine as to where the milk is unless one considers whey as milk. It’s not quite milk.

One note: this famous brand margarine conspicuously advertised that it had "0 Trans fats." But hydrogenated corn and soybean oil ARE trans fats. (See my article: Saturated Fats versus partially hydrogenated vegetable oils and trans fats) Wow!

Organic Butter and your health

Organic butter is an excellent source for true vitamin A (retinal), vitamin D, vitamin K, vitamin E and protein. Vitamin A, when obtained from butter, absorbs very easily into your body. If you are lucky enough to have a source of butter from cows that only graze on green grass, you are in for consuming large amounts of vitamin A, D, K, E and protein. Translated — it’s healthy to eat un-tampered-with butter.

Margarine and your health

Margarine comes from partially hydrogenated vegetable oils or fats. This type of butter substitute is nowhere near as hard to manufacture as butter. Unfortunately, margarine blocks the utilization of essential fatty acids (called EFA’s or Omega 6 and Omega 3) found in vegetable oils — that is, margarine blocks itself from being useful to your body  and causes many problems for your body like: sexual dysfunction, increased blood cholesterol and paralysis of the immune system. Your body can fight off bugs if you allow it to do its job, but if you put things into it which inhibit this process, you could "get the bug" more easily.

Eating hydrogenated fats has been linked to cancer, atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), diabetes, worsening eyesight, obesity, birth defects, and sterility, problems with bones and tendons and heart disease. The vegetable oils can go rancid. Margarine contains preservatives, which are good for shelf life but lousy for your digestive tract. You’re eating something you’re trying to digest, but that something contains preservatives which fight digestion.

Organic butter versus homogenized butter

Organic butter is good for fertility and for growing children because it contains high concentrations of vitamins A, D, K, E and protein.

But there’s a difference between organic butter and "conventional" butter. Organic butter has not been processed, and therefore all its nutrients or vitamins are intact and undiminished. It may not last forever in the frig, but if you eat it, it won’t last long either and your health will be better.

"Conventional" butter means the milk or cream has been homogenized (ground into small particles so that the cream cannot rise to the top) and/or pasteurized (essentially, cooked) — which means it has lost a good portion of its natural nutritional value. Conventional butter could contain preservatives, which is great for shelf life but bad for your digestion. Preservatives inhibit food, or in this case fat or oil, from going bad but also inhibit your body’s ability to break it down in order to obtain energy from it and to run or work adequately. Or, so that your kids can grow up healthy and strong.

Contrast these:

  • Butter is good for cooking, and your body doesn’t "pay for it" as butter digests well.
  • On the other hand, margarine can go rancid because of the heat in cooking, thus again causing trouble with your digestion.

You tell me! Is organic butter good for your health? And: butter or margarine — which one would you choose?

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26 Comments for "Butter versus margarine – are they good for you?"

  1. Diane Vigil

    What an excellent article, George — it’s good to get the basic information.

    It’s pretty shocking that that "famous brand margarine" claimed not to contain trans fats while displaying that it contained hydrogenated corn and soybean oil. Doesn’t seem quite right, or truthful.

    It’s a "let the buyer beware" world.

  2. Lynn Cameron

    If organic butter is taken to its finest culinary experience, it is made from cultured cream (natural soured cream or creme fraiche)from pastured cows. Cultured dairy products carry their own wee beasties (lactic acid bacteria) producing natural preservatives right along in every molecule.

    Frying temperatures will burn the milk solids in butter, but it is available as ghee – clarified butter made by melting, skimming and leaving the white sediment for pet gravy.


  3. Diane Vigil

    Thanks, Lynn. Sounds lovely!

  4. Sheila S

    interested in newsletter when available.

  5. Diane Vigil

    Thanks, Sheila. I’ll make a note and, once we set up the newsletter, I’ll send an email invite.

  6. Ash

    Great article, makes the choice very clear. I have switched from margarine to organic butter as its also recommended to maximize fertility and balance the hormones. It has Vitamin A and D which is critical to conception. The saturated fat and artificial stuff in margarine hinders conception.

  7. Diane Vigil

    You have a point there, Ash. And asides from the benefits, butter is to me just one of those luxuries in life.

  8. Thomas Ensminger

    I have spent the last two weeks exchanging what my food stuffs were to what they are going to be. Quite an education but still learning. ( Food items I dont want are going to the Goodwill; because they have very little and something for them is better than nothing).I hope all keep this in mind?

  9. Hector Del Castillo

    “According to FDA guidelines, products containing less than 0.5g trans fat per serving can list zero grams trans fat on their nutritional labels.”

    Just another way to trick you into eating poorly.

  10. Diane Vigil

    And just like products labeled "organic" — but not "100% Organic" — are not-as-organic-as-you-think. :(

  11. George Vigil

    Apparently partial hydrogenation can occur naturally. So it might be hard to zero partial hydrogenation out. I’ve bought some excellent cookies that reported a less than 1% natural hydrogenation. It was a truthful statement of contents, which was highly appreciated by me. And my wife as she said, "UM! GOOD!"

  12. latonia

    Very informative article, I always worry about my health. I like to take butter daily, from today; I take organic butter instead of margarine butter it helps to balance my hormones. Thanks, for giving such nice information.

  13. Albert Anvals


    Nice article, I quit eating fake butter (margarine) about 18 years ago. I was reading something else about butter just yesterday; its an article called “Got Diabetes? Eat More Butter!”

    Seems butter is the number one source of butyrate. It was a good read (as was your article).

    Here is the URL if interested.


  14. Diane Vigil

    Hi Albert. We, too, haven’t eaten fake butter in decades. And real butter tastes better, in my opinion.

    Thanks for the link; interesting website. :)

  15. Albert Gutierrez

    I eat everything and anything. The key is: moderation. Even too much of a “good” thing is usually bad. A lot of people eat, or change eating habits based on what’s hot. Omega-3, for instance, everybody is putting lots of Omega-3 in, not realizing that, without eating enough anti-oxidants, they actually causing more harm than good to their health.

    Like I said, I eat everything in moderation, and don’t worry about labels. I’m in perfect health, as per my last physical a week ago.

  16. Diane Vigil

    You have a point, Albert. Moderation is a good thing. :)

  17. mark

    If the cream can’t rise to the top in homogenization, how do they make butter?

  18. Diane Vigil

    Hi Mark. I’d assume that they’d skim off the cream (butterfat) before proceeding with the milk.

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  20. Tarrie

    One thing not mention about Butter verses Organic butter
    It’s especially important for consumers to choose organic when it comes to butter, because it’s particularly susceptible to pesticide contamination. According to the Pesticide Action Network of North America, nonorganic butter was ranked first as the food most contaminated with persistent organic pollutants, a class of toxic chemicals that are some of the most dangerous produced. “POPs are toxic chemicals that stay in the environment and our bodies for months, years, sometimes even decades. They are passed from link to link in the food chain, and from one generation to the next through fetal exposure and breast milk,” says Kristin Schafer, program coordinator at PAANA.

  21. Diane Vigil

    Thanks, Tarrie; that’s pretty interesting.

    I searched the Pesticide Action Network North America (PANNA) website for more information, but I was unable to find what you quoted above. Could you let me know where you got the information?

  22. Lynn Grant

    Really liked, and agreed with your article about ‘real’ butter vs conventional butter, and the ‘chemical stuff’. We have been using organic butter for several years now, and as I am a type 2 diabetic it figures into my diet control of my diabetes. However we find that organic butter is not always readily available. When we went to get our next batch we finally had to use butter from Ireland. Best discovery we ever made!! The texture, color, and taste all great, AND it is from grass fed cows to boot!
    Anyway thanks for your keeping us up-to-date on all this stuff.


  23. Diane Vigil

    Glad to hear you found the butter from Ireland to your liking!

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  25. Eugenia Hubbard

    Does butter contain dairy milk? Can it be replaced with soy milk?

  26. Diane Vigil

    Does butter contain dairy milk? Can it be replaced with soy milk?

    So far as I know, the term "butter" normally means butter made with dairy milk.

    Is there such a thing as "soy butter"? If not, you could always give it a try. Here’s a link to our article How to make your own butter.

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