Margarine and the plague of e-mail chain-letters Print
Interesting Reading - Nutrition and Health

Along with the benefits of technology, come horrors such as spam and chain letters via e-mail. People circulate them without verification. An email about margarine circulating since 1999 is still making its rounds. Whilst some assertions are true, it would be wise to examine some of the claims.

1) "Margarine was originally manufactured to fatten turkeys"
This statement then goes on to say that margarine killed the turkeys, which made the manufacturers turn to a human audience instead.
Margarine was invented by a Frenchman, Hippolyte Mège-Mouriez, in response to an offer by the Emperor Louis Napoleon III for the production of a satisfactory substitute for butter. He added milk, salty water and margaric acid to beef fat and claimed the Emperor’s prize in 1870. The turkey story is unfounded. Today vegetable oil has replaced the original beef fat.

2) "Both have the same amount of calories" – correct
Butter contains 727cal/100g, while polyunsaturated margarine contains 731cal/100g.

3) "Butter is slightly higher in saturated fats at 8g compared to 5g " – incorrect
Butter contains 48g of saturated fat/100g, while standard polyunsaturated margarine only contains 16g of saturates/100g.

4) "Eating butter increases the absorption of many other nutrients in other foods" – correct, BUT so does margarine!
This statement is true for all fats and oils, including margarine. The absorption of fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K, is improved when the diet contains some fat or oil, no matter what type of fat or oil you use.

5) "Butter has many nutritional benefits, where margarine has a few only because they are added!" – incorrect
Butter is a source of energy and vitamin A, as is margarine, but whereas margarine is nowadays enriched with a variety of other nutrients such as vitamins E and D, and calcium, butter only contains traces of these nutrients.

6) "Margarine is very high in trans fatty acids" – incorrect
While this may have been true before the danger of trans fatty acids was identified about 15 years ago, manufacturers have taken great care to ensure that modern margarines only contain traces of trans fatty acids and in some cases, none at all.

7) "Margarine is one molecule away from being plastic" – irrelevant
Many chemical compounds are closely related without them being identical or having the same effects. Take ethanol and methanol, which are chemically closely related. Most people use ethanol in their foods e.g. soft drinks, whereas if they drank the closely related chemical compound methanol, they would go blind.

In conclusion each person should consult his/her own health advisor as to which is personally best and not rely on or spread the plague of chain letters.

sk/2008-06-24 09:27:58

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