I grew up on a farm and therefore butter was all we knew, in fact I’m not even sure much else existed other than maybe lard or something like that, so to go back home to my parents breakfast table and see a tub of the spreadable stuff on it, quiet honestly shocked me.
Butter is made from cream which is separated from cow’s milk. Margarines and other spreads hit an all time high as these were now spreadable directly from your fridge and the good old butter lost out in popularity as it was hard and un-spreadable from the fridge. Personally I rarely eat bread or anything in which I need to use butter but when I am cooking or in need of it I will use butter as it is much less processed and is much more natural than any spreadable margarines from a highly processed chemically derived plastic tub.
Butter got bad press because it is a saturated fat from an animal source, it is more solid at room temperature and some research linked these hard fats with heart disease and other health problems.
The manufacture of Margarine type spreads is as follows, the oils (usually cheap vegetable oils, or mixtures of various oils) are refined, then the oils are hydrogenated, then deodorised , flavours, preservatives, salt, colour and by law (Vitamin A & D) are added. Then cultured pasteurised milk is added in, the mixture is then emulsified and stabilised before the mixture is chilled and finally packed in some kind of plastic tub.
Margarines made from vegetables fats are naturally higher in poly unsaturated fats which are better for you but the process of making the margarine changes their structure, through hydrogenation, this change can cause some poly unsaturated fats to change to TRANS fatty acids. There is huge concern now that Trans fats may affect cholesterol and health, research is continuing and manufacturer are under pressure to reduce or remove Trans fats from these products altogether.
Personally my policy is to use products that are the least processed. I will use either butter or coconut oil. Coconut oil is hard at room temperature due to our climate and therefore is classified as a saturated fat. However, the makeup of coconut oil is very different from animal fats which are also saturated fats. Coconut oil is plant based and is very high in short chain fatty acids such as caprylic acid, lauric acid etc and these have many claimed health benefits. Coconut oil should be fine to single cook with below the smoke point and it is a fat which does not goes rancid. Like any fat when excessive temperatures are used and the oil/fat starts to burn you are changing the chemical makeup of the fat into harmful free radicals.
It can be confusing, whatever oil/butter/fat/spread you decide to use, use in MODERATION and in combination with a healthy lifestyle of sleep, exercise and a well balanced diet with plenty of fruit and veggies and other plant based nutrients. It’s not the one thing in which you do it is the combination in which you do these things everyday!
Stay health conscious!