In 1869, a French food chemist successfully made a cheap substitute for butter, made from beef fat and milk, and treated with heat, lye and pressure. Yum…

Margarine started out as a meat product until the 1900s when food chemists discovered how to harden liquid oils. Vegetable and fish oils then became the raw materials for margarine. By the 1920s, only vegetable oils went into the product, as well as chemical additives to improve the appearance and flavor. Many people today believe margarine to be a healthier alternative to butter, but is it?

Butter is made by churning the fatty portion of cow’s milk until it turns into… well, butter. Margarine contains vegetable oil, along with various artificial ingredients to improve its look and taste. Butter has been demonized by many because it contains large amounts of saturated fat and cholesterol, but several studies have found no association between saturated fat and cardiovascular disease, meaning that neither saturated fat nor dietary cholesterol harm the lipid profile in the blood.

The vegetable oils used for margarine are mostly unsaturated, and remain in liquid form at room temperature. To combat the liquid form, the vegetable oil is put through a hydrogenation process that involves exposing it to high heat, high pressure, hydrogen gas and a metal catalyst. This process allows the oil to remain harder at room temperature, and it prolongs the shelf life of the product. Hydrogenated fats are also known as trans fats, which are highly toxic and have been associated with heart disease.

There are trans-fat versions of margarine available, but excess consumption of polyunsaturated vegetable oils alone have been linked to cancer and heart disease. If you had to choose between butter and margarine, butter is better. But all butter is not created equal. Organic butter from grass-fed cows is more nutritious. It contains Omega-3 fatty acids as well as Vitamin K2, which plays a role in preventing disease. Grass-fed butter also contains a fatty acid known as CLA, which can have anti-cancer properties, and butyrate, which can fight inflammation, improve digestion and help to prevent weight gain.

The real question here isn’t “Which one is healthier?” With all of the amazing foods that nature has given us, free of harmful chemicals, preservatives and additives, the real question should be, “What healthier alternative can I use in place of butter or margarine?”

Here are five delicious and nutritious butter substitutes:

1. Applesauce

Applesauce is a substitute for butter in baked goods. It works best in sweet recipes, adding moisture and fiber while saving tons of calories. Use equal amounts of applesauce for the butter called for in the recipe.

2. Pumpkin Puree

Baked goods such as coffee cakes and muffins taste great with pumpkin puree in place of butter. It contains Vitamin K, potassium and fiber. Use 3/4 cup of pumpkin puree for every cup of butter called for in the recipe.

3. Avocado

What isn’t avocado good for? It tastes great on toast and it provides a long list of nutritious benefits that butter or margarine can’t even begin to compete with. It’s full of healthy fats that help to lower bad cholesterol and raise good cholesterol. You can bake with it, too! Use equal parts of pureed avocado for the amount of butter called for in the recipe.

4. Olive Oil

Olive oil is an effective butter substitute in baking, pasta sauces and mashed potatoes. It’s loaded with healthy unsaturated fats. Use 3/4 cup of olive oil for every cup of butter called for in the recipe.

5. Nut Butter

Nut butter boasts multiple nutritious benefits and it makes for the perfect topping on a bagel, muffin or even toast. Nut butter contains heart-healthy fats, potassium and fiber. You can find it in any health food store, but if you prefer to make your own, check out the video below!

h/t: real farmacy