I was reading the Summer 2012 edition of “Woman’s Weekly Health” earlier, when I came across this double page spread debating whether Margarine or Butter is better for your health. Fighting the corner for butter was a cook, Fran Abdallaoui. Arguing the case for margarine was Barbara Eden, Nutrition Manager at National Heart Foundation of Australia. I'm not sure how pitching a cook against a nutritionist (especially one representing the national heart foundation) is a balanced debate. I don’t think they want their readers to side with butter, do you?
Eden says “It comes down to your health and that’s the main factor your (SIC) considering when choosing between margarine and butter, there’s really no choice to make”. She also tells readers that “A regular butter is made up of… more than four per cent trans fat”, which I find frustratingly misleading, since natural, completely inert trans fats – as found in animal products – are completely different to the harmful trans fats found in many processed foods.
This is all because Eden believes “It’s the saturated fat and trans fat in our food supply that elevates your blood cholesterol levels which increase the risk of heart disease and stroke, and that’s one of the leading causes of death in Australia”
The article also adds “there is the convenience factor of the immediately spreadable product with a longer shelf life” as another reason we should go for margarine instead of butter. Well, using that argument, shouldn't we all have frozen pizza for dinner – it’s a lot more convenient and has a far longer shelf life than whole food…
In a “health” magazine, readers are going to place much more confidence in a nutritionist (especially one representing the national heart foundation) than they would a cook. If they really want to present a debate, surely they should present both sides, equally? Or better still, finally run an article about how wrong they've had it for the past few decades. I must stop reading “health” magazines – they raise my cortisol levels more than almost anything else and that’s definitely not good for my health!