Distinguishing Between Butter & Margarine

Butter and margarine are staple items in many households, used in various cooking processes and as spreads. Butter is a natural product derived from animal milk, typically from cows, while margarine is a manufactured alternative made through a complex process, usually involving vegetable oils.

Key Takeaways

  • Butter is a dairy product made from animal milk, while margarine is a manufactured product made from vegetable oils.
  • Butter contains saturated fats and cholesterol, whereas margarine contains trans-fats and no cholesterol.
  • Butter generally has a better taste, while margarine has a longer shelf life and is more economical.


Butter is a dairy product used daily, like milk and eggs. It is often used as a spread or in cooking, such as baking and sauce-making. Butter’s main components are butterfat, water, and proteins. It is often used in its pure form, but preservatives and salts can be added to increase its shelf life. At room temperature, butter is soft, but it solidifies in the refrigerator and becomes liquid at higher temperatures. The color of butter varies from white to yellow, depending on the animal’s feed used to make it. One tablespoon of butter contains 420 kilojoules of energy, which usually comes from saturated fat and is a source of cholesterol for users. Due to this, butter can cause certain health issues, particularly cardiac problems. Ghee is another product made from butter, consisting primarily of butterfat.


Margarine was created as a substitute for butter in 1869, and now countless varieties are available on the market. Typically made from vegetable oils, margarine is solidified through a process involving hydrogen gas. Margarine contains no cholesterol and has very little or no saturated fats. However, it does contain poly saturated fats, which are considered unhealthy for humans. Vitamins A and D are often added to margarine to enhance its nutritional value, and salts, artificial colors, and preservatives are added to increase its shelf life. Research has shown that the trans fats present in margarine can increase insulin levels in the blood, raising the risk of diabetes.

Differences and Similarities

Both butter and margarine have equal calories, with one teaspoon containing 100 calories in each case. Butter is derived from animal milk, while margarine is made from vegetable oils through hydrogenation. Butter contains saturated fats and cholesterol, while margarine consists of trans-fats and no cholesterol. In terms of taste, butter is often preferred over margarine. Both are used in cooking, especially baking, but are not recommended for frying. Margarine has a longer shelf life than butter and is more economical. Doctors may recommend margarine to reduce the risk of heart disease, but it may also increase the risk of diabetes.


Butter and margarine are sources of fat, which is essential for proper body function. Due to its cholesterol content, butter can be harmful to health, making margarine a better option in this regard, as it contains no cholesterol. However, the saturated fats in butter make it richer, while the trans-fats in margarine differentiate it from butter. The better taste of butter makes it a popular choice for many people.

Dmitri Ivanov
Dmitri Ivanovhttps://whats-different.com
Dmitri Ivanov, a writer and managing editor, was educated in Canada and holds a BS in Science. Dmitri loves doing research, writing, and teaching various courses.


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