• Send Comments
• What's New
• Hottest 25
• Odd News
• Glurge Gallery
• Lost Legends
• Media Matters
• Old Wives' Tales
• Photo Gallery
• Racial Rumors
• Radio & TV
• Risqué Business
• September 11
• Toxin du jour
• Message Archive
Claim: Ingestion of some types of margarine increases the risk of coronary disease.
Status: Multiple — see below.
Example: [Collected via e-mail, 1999]
Origins: The above-quoted compilation began circulating on the Internet in June 2003, often under the title "Butter vs. Margarine," and surprisingly enough there was a fair bit of truth to it, at least at the time. According to the latest findings in the medical world in 2003, margarine could increase the risk of heart disease, depending upon the type of fat contained in the spread. Previously, the dietary villain in the development of coronary disease was presumed to be saturated fat, but new evidence points the finger at trans fat (also known as trans fatty acids). Although butter has its own set of dietary shortcomings, it does not contain trans fat.
In 1994, Harvard University researchers reported that people who ate partially hydrogenated oils, which are high in trans fats, had nearly twice the risk of heart attacks as those who consumed much less of the substance. Several large studies in the United States and elsewhere, including the Nurses' Health Study conducted by researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health, have also suggested a strong link between earlier death and consumption of foods high in trans
Trans fats occur naturally in small amounts in some foods, including meat and dairy products, but most trans fats in the American diet are formed when vegetable oils are chemically changed to give them a longer shelf life. Cookies, potato chips, baked products, and the like are particularly loaded with trans fats.
The Food and Drug Administration, the National Academy, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, and the American Heart Association all recommend consumers limit their intake of trans fat wherever possible. Moreover, the federal government passed regulations requiring that by 2006 all food labels disclose how much trans fat a product contains.
Back in 2003 we compiled the following comparison chart for various brands of margarine as they were then formulated. Numbers given in grams refer to how many grams of each particular type of fat there are per tablespoon of that brand. (A tablespoon of butter or margarine contains
Because butter is an animal product, it contains cholesterol, amounting to
Since the issuance of warnings and regulations about trans fats in the last few years, many margarine producers have reformulated their products. I Can't Believe It's Not Butter, for example, now (in 2006) bears a notice on its label proclaiming "NO TRANS FAT," and the amount of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fat per serving has dropped from
Although a great deal of the information given in the
[Collected via e-mail, November 2005]These types of statements (even if they were true) are essentially meaningless. Many disparate substances share similar chemical properties, but even the slightest variation in molecular structure can make a world of difference in the qualities of those substances.
I was told that the difference between Cool Whip and Styrofoam is one molecule... is this true???
[Collected via e-mail, December 2006]
Is velveeta processed cheese food really one molecule different from plastic?
[Collected via e-mail, March 2007]
heard that Pam spray is 1 molecule away from plastic and is therefore dangerous??
[Collected via e-mail, January 2008]
I am tired of hearing my husband say that Cheez Whiz is only
Some of the "Butter vs. margarine" mailings circulated in 2005 had this preface tacked onto them:
Margarine was originally manufactured to fatten turkeys. When it killed the turkeys, the people who had put all the money into the research wanted a payback so they put their heads together to figure out what to do with this product to get their money back. It was a white substance with no food appeal so they added the yellow coloring and sold it to people to use in place of butter. How do you like it? They have come out with some clever new flavorings.Contrary to the claim, margarine was not invented as a turkey fattener. It was formulated in 1869 by Hippolyte Mège Mouriès of France in response to
In 1886, New York and New Jersey prohibited the manufacture and sale of yellow-colored margarine, and by 1902,
Barbara "gold standard" Mikkelson
Last updated: 27 January 2008
This material may not be reproduced without permission.
snopes and the snopes.com logo are registered service marks of snopes.com.