Margarine is a spread used for flavoring, baking and cooking. 

It is most often used as a substitute for butter. 

Although originally made from animal fats, most margarine consumed today is made from vegetable oil. 

It is healthier than butter. 

Used to avoid consuming animal-based products.

Butter is made from the butterfat of milk, whereas modern margarine is made mainly of refined vegetable oil and water.

It consists of a water-in-fat emulsion, with tiny droplets of water dispersed uniformly throughout a fat phase in a stable solid form.

The term margarine is used to describe non-dairy spreads, with varying fat contents.

Margarine can be used as an ingredient in other food products, such as pastries, doughnuts, cakes and cookies.

Most brands have phased out the use of hydrogenated oils and became trans fat free. 

Manufacturing  of margarine consists of emulsifying a blend of oils and fats from vegetable and animal sources, which can be modified using fractionation, interesterification or hydrogenation, with skimmed milk, salt, citric or lactic acid, chilling the mixture to solidify it.

Margarines and vegetable fat spreads found in the market can range from 10% to 90% fat.

The softer tub margarines are made with less hydrogenated and more liquid oils than block margarines.

Three types of margarine are common:

Bottled liquid margarine to cook or top dishes.

Soft vegetable fat spreads, high in mono- or polyunsaturated fats, which are made from safflower, sunflower, soybean, cottonseed, rapeseed, or olive oil.

Hard margarine for cooking or baking.

Technically, margarine is a form of shortening.

To produce margarine, oils and fats are initially extracted by pressing from seeds, and then refined. 

Oils may undergo a full or partial hydrogenation process to solidify them. 

With partial hydrogenation of a typical plant oil to a typical component of margarine, most  of the C=C double bonds are removed in this process, elevating  the melting point of the product.

Vegetable and animal fats are similar compounds with different melting points. 

Liquid fats at room temperature are referred to as oils.

The melting points are related to the presence of carbon-carbon double bonds in the fatty acids.

A higher number of double bonds gives a lower melting point. 

Oils are converted into solid substances at room temperature through hydrogenation.

The addition of hydrogen to the unsaturated bonds results in saturated C-C bonds, effectively increasing the melting point of the oil: due to the increase in van der Waals’ forces between the saturated molecules compared with the unsaturated molecules. 

Because of possible health benefits in limiting the amount of saturated fats in the human diet, the process is controlled so that only enough of the bonds are hydrogenated to give the required texture. 

If hydrogenation is incomplete, partial hardening, transfats May  remain present in the final margarine.

As a resultnpartially hardened fats are used less and less in the margarine industry. 

Some tropical oils, such as palm oil and coconut oil, are naturally semi-solid and do not require hydrogenation.

Margarine, soybean oil spread, 70% fat

Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)


2,627 kJ (628 kcal)


1.5 g


70.2 g


0.3 g

Vitamins Quantity %DV†

Vitamin A

3571 IU

Thiamine (B1)

5% 0.052 mg

Riboflavin (B2)

2% 0.025 mg

Pantothenic acid (B5)

0% 0.001 mg

Vitamin B6

0% 0.003 mg

Folate (B9)

0% 1 μg

Vitamin C

0% 0 mg

Vitamin E

37% 5.6 mg

Minerals Quantity %DV†


1% 7 mg


1% 0.12 mg


1% 2 mg


1% 0.014 mg


1% 10 mg


1% 46 mg


47% 700 mg


1% 0.06 mg


26.2 g

Replacing saturated and trans unsaturated fats with unhydrogenated monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fats is more effective in preventing coronary heart disease than reducing overall fat intake.

Vegetable fats can contain anything from 7% to 86% saturated fatty acids. 

Liquid oils, such as canola oil, sunflower oil, tend to be on the low end of fatty acids.

Tropical oils, such AUB coconut oil, palm kernel oil, and fully hardened (hydrogenated) oils are at the high end of the scale for saturated fatty acids.

A margarine blend is a mixture of both types of components. 

Generally, firmer margarines contain more saturated fat.

Typical soft tub margarine contains 10% to 20% of saturated fat.

Regular butterfat contains 52 to 65% saturated fats.

It is recommend saturated fat intake to be as low as possible.

Consumption of unsaturated fatty acids has been found to decrease LDL cholesterol levels and increase HDL cholesterol levels in the blood, thus reducing the risk of contracting cardiovascular diseases.

There are two types of unsaturated oils: mono- and poly-unsaturated fats, both of which are recognized as beneficial to health in contrast to saturated fats. 

Some vegetable oils, such as canola, sunflower, safflower, and olive oils contain high amounts of unsaturated fats.

During the manufacture of margarine, makers may convert some unsaturated fat into hydrogenated fats or trans fats to give them a higher melting point so they stay solid at room temperatures.

Omega-3 fatty acids are a family of polyunsaturated fatty acids. 

Omega-3 fatty acids is two essential fatty acids, so called because humans cannot manufacture it and must get it from food.

 Omega-3 fatty acids are mostly obtained from oily fish caught in northern waters. 

Omega-3 fatty acids  are comparatively uncommon in vegetable sources, including margarine. 

One type of omega-3 fatty acid, alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) can be found in some vegetable oils. 

Flax oil contains 30-50% of ALA, and is becoming a popular dietary supplement to rival fish oils; both are often added to premium margarines. 

Small amounts of ALA are found in vegetable oils such as soybean oil (7%), canola oil (7%) and wheat germ oil (5%).

Omega-6 fatty acids are also important for health, and include the essential fatty acid linoleic acid (LA), which is abundant in vegetable oils grown in temperate climates. 

Hemp (60%) and the common margarine oils corn (60%), cottonseed (50%) and sunflower (50%), have large amounts, but most temperate oil seeds have over 10% LA. 

Margarine is very high in omega-6 fatty acids. 

Western diets are frequently quite high in omega-6 but very deficient in omega-3. 

The omega-6 to omega-3 ratio is typically 5:1 to 10:1. 

Large amounts of omega-6 decreases the effect of omega-3.

The ratio in the diet should be less than 4:1, although the optimal ratio may be closer to 1:1.

Unlike essential fatty acids, trans fatty acids are not essential and provide no known benefit to human health besides providing calories. 

There is a positive linear trend between trans fatty acid intake and LDL cholesterol concentration, and therefore increased risk of coronary heart disease, by raising levels of LDL cholesterol and lowering levels of HDL cholesterol.

A link between consumption of high amounts of trans fat and coronary heart disease, and possibly some other diseases,

Presently production of new margarine varieties contain less or no trans fat, as the  United States Food and Drug Administration ordered that trans fat is to be eliminated from food processing.

High levels of cholesterol, particularly low-density lipoprotein, are associated with an increased risk of atherosclerosis and atheroma formation.

The narrowing of blood vessels can cause reduced blood flow to the brain, heart, kidneys and other parts of the body.

Cholesterol, though needed metabolically, is not essential in the diet, because the body’s production increases as needed when dietary intake falls. 

The human body makes cholesterol in the liver, adapting the production according to its food intake, producing about 1 g of cholesterol each day or 80% of the needed total body cholesterol. 

The remaining 20% comes directly from food intake, in those who eat animal products.

Overall intake of cholesterol as food has less effect on blood cholesterol levels than the type of fat eaten.

Most margarines are vegetable-based and thus contain no cholesterol, while a teaspoon of butter contains 10.8 mg of cholesterol.

Plant sterol esters or plant stanol esters have been added to some margarines and spreads because of their cholesterol-lowering effect. 

Several studies have indicated that consumption of about 2 grams per day OF margerine provides a reduction in LDL cholesterol of about 10%.

Margarine, particularly polyunsaturated margarine, is a major part of the Western diet and had overtaken butter in popularity.

Margarine has a particular market value to those who observe the Jewish dietary laws of Kashrut, which forbids the mixing of meat and dairy products; hence there are strictly kosher non-dairy margarines available, known as Pareve. 

Regular margarine contains trace amounts of animal products such as whey or dairy casein extracts. 

Margarine that strictly does not contain animal products also exists, and provides a vegan substitute for butter.

Many states currently require the mandatory addition of vitamins A and D to margarine and fat spreads for reasons of public health. 

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