Do you know nutrition: Is butter better?

Dec. 6, 2010 at 6:06 a.m.
Updated Dec. 7, 2010 at 6:07 a.m.

I have gone back to using butter rather than margarine, for no reason other than I think it is healthier. Is this something that you would recommend, and if so, why?

When you look at the laundry list of ingredients that are listed on the "plastic" margarine tubs, you usually find several ingredients that you are unfamiliar with or cannot even pronounce.

Margarine must contain no less than 80 percent fat (those nasty trans fatty acids) along with water, milk solids, salt, preservatives, emulsifiers, artificial colors and flavorings. Margarine is usually made from soy and cottonseed oils, processed under high heat, high pressure and uses chemical solvents designed to extract the oil.

Butter, on the other hand, is natural, rich in vitamins and minerals, generally wrapped in paper, in a box and lists it ingredients as just pasteurized cream and salt if you choose that option.

Whipped butter is usually found in paper containers as well and the only difference is that it contains about 25 percent air. Butter is graded by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) by taste, color, aroma, texture and body. A score of 100 is the best, grade AA must score at least a 93, grade A at least a 92 and grade B with a score of a minimum of 90 points. Salt is added to increase shelf life.

Based on the processing, packaging and quality, my recommendation will always be butter.

Here are a few other tidbits about butter you may find interesting; always use unsalted butter in recipes since the content of salt can range from 1.5 percent to 3 percent and can play havoc on your recipe, store butter in a closed container to eliminate the absorption of odors, and if butter is fresh, it will store up to nine months in your freezer. It takes 21 pounds of whole milk to make one pound of butter. In 2009, more than 1.5 billion pounds of butter was produced. I have had butter made from donkey, goat, buffalo, camel and yak, and I still prefer butter from cows.

The next free nutrition class will be held at the Organic Emporium, 2918 N. Laurent St., Victoria, on Dec. 13, beginning at 7 p.m. and the topic will be Natural Cures for Common Diseases through Nutrition. Healthy holidays.

Phylis B. Canion is a doctor of naturopathic medicine and is a certified nutritional consultant, e-mail her at This column is for nutritional information only and is not intended to treat, diagnose or cure.



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