BUTTER VS. MARGARINE….I have spent my entire life ? literally ? eating popcorn flavored with Imperial margarine. It is part of my deeply held belief that the purpose of complex carbohydrates in a properly balanced diet is to serve as a vehicle for either grease, sugar, or some combination of the two. (The Imperial? part is just childhood conditioning.)

Recently, however, we had some real live butter left over and I used it up on a bowl of popcorn. Damn! That’s good stuff! So good, in fact, that I can use about half as much and still have a much better bowl of popcorn than I can with margarine. So should I keep using it? Should you? The good points are: (a) tastes better and (b) fewer calories from using half as much. Bad points: even using half the amount butter has (a) more saturated fat and (b) costs more.

I report, you decide. Make your choice wisely.

UPDATE: Elissa Howe writes:

Most of the margarines on the market contain high levels of trans fat, created during the hydrogenation process (used to solidify the liquid vegetable oils used). Trans fats are reportedly just as bad (in their own way) as the saturated fats they are replacing (see here for more info). Butter is the superior alternative, especially since (as you claim) you only need to use half as much. In addition, most sources of animal (saturated) fats also contain small amounts of a “good” fat: CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) which is currently being researched for its health benefits (see here and here) and is even being marketed as a dietary supplement.

So enjoy (in moderation)!

Well, that sounds authoritative, doesn’t it? And since it’s the conclusion I wanted to hear in the first place, sign me up!

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