Dear Dietitian – Butter or Margarine?

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Published Friday, January 26, 2018
by Leanne McCrate, RD, LD, CNSC

Dear Dietitian,

I am trying to eat healthier and have recently switched from butter to margarine. But people at work say butter is better for you. One person even said margarine's chemical structure is similar to plastic! What gives?

Signed, Healthy Heart

Dear Healthy Heart,

The controversy with butter versus margarine involves trans fats, which lead to higher cholesterol levels. These fats are added during the processing of margarine; however, most companies have taken trans fats out of their margarine.  Butter contains saturated fats along with trans fat naturally.

As for margarine's chemical makeup being similar to plastic, this simply is not true. This is a technique used to sway someone by telling them something that sounds like it has scientific value.

For sound advice, it is best to consult professional websites, such as the American Heart Association because this group's primary purpose is education, and so there is no ulterior motive such as profit.

Leanne McCrate, RD, LD, CNSC, is an award-winning dietitian with over fifteen years of experience. Have a question?  Email Leanne at