Butter vs. margarine: what the fat?

Butter vs margarine: which is really healthier?

When I saw this in a recent article in the newspapers I thought to myself: WTF? Are there people out there even considering this question? 

The study that sparked these articles comes from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health - organisation which I'm going to describe in a later blog post.

Foremost you have to wise up, and understand that this is a group that keeps pumping these crappy, propagandistic surveys with complete disregard to the stronger type of evidence: the interventional trials. For the study mentioned above, their method is based on a questionnaire administered every 2-4 years - can this be called science? Galileo may turn in his grave if so. Literally people are asked what they ate over the past 2-4 years. What about you? Do you remember what you ate last week?

Needless to say, journalists who's understanding of physiology and science is void, regurgitate the press release of the study authors. 

Now, I rely upon your wisdom, since you made it to this blog, to consider the arguments below. Before going any further you have to consider the fact that the fats that you eat are very important for the human body since all cell membranes are made from fats. 

First we'll have a incisive look at what is margarine and butter, which one was first, which one imitates the other, what processes and substances go into their obtaining.

You will realise that "the brains at Harvard" are not that brainy after all - or are they?

The process of EDIBLE OIL REFINING in general comprises of Degumming, Neutralization, Bleaching and Deodorization and Winterisation. Chemical refining is the traditional method whereby the free fatty acid of the crude oils are neutralized with Caustic Soda. The resultant Sodium Soaps are removed by Batch Settling or by means of Centrifugal Separators. The neutral oils are subsequently bleached and deodorized. This method can be used for reliably refining virtually all crude oils, including oils of low quality, with the exception of Castor Oil.
— Chempro - edible oil refining equipment producer

I truly believe that these are witty and unfortunately wicked and corrupt characters, all the way to the bone marrow.

Just how ignorant, idiot and remote from the real world you have to be, to pair the quintessence of processed food with one of the most nourishing, minimally processed (you can do it in the kitchen with a whisker) and REAL FOODS out there? Not at all when you are either selling it, directly or through prostitution. 

I challenge you to find some other toxic crap, that is more fake and processed than margarine!

Lets have an incisive look at both of these 

Subject 1: Margarine - how can you eat this sh**t?

 Can you see the British Heart Foundation approval? 

Can you see the British Heart Foundation approval? 

Bleaching: have Harvard "scientists" anything to do with nutrition?

Margarine is a manufactured industrial product, brought on the US market sold in 1911 by Procter&Gamble (guess why is says P&G or Unilever both on your washing liquid and margarine?). It is one of the first food imitations created to resemble and undertake butter - which humans have consumed for 10.000 years or so: 

Manufacturing process overview: WTF?!

How is it processed? In a typical industrial way that resembles the production of polymers and includes substances like caustic soda, phosphoric acid, hexane and high temperatures and pressures - if you believe that this is food TRY TO REPLICATE this in your kitchen!

  • The first stage is called refinement, where oil is extracted from seeds or beans and refined. 
  • The second stage is called processing, where oil and other materials are made into margarine.

Deodorisation: yummy!

The above may sound rather harmless. Have a look below at what is involved in detail from a producer of the processing gear required to extract these oils:

A more detailed description of the process involved: Stage 1

  1. The crude miscella feedstock from the extractor is first adjusted to the desired miscella concentration by evaporation in the first stage evaporator or economiser against the outgoing vapours from the deodorosed tank. 
  2. The crude miscella is pumped through a heat exchanger to bring the miscella upto the desired processing temperature.
  3. The crude miscella proceeds through a flow measuring device enters the neutralization process. 
  4. This process is completed by a four step process: Conditioning, Neutralization, Washing, and Drying. 
  5. The fats are heated between 40º and 85ºC and treated with an aqueous solution of sodium hydroxide(Caustic Soda)
    • Conditioning transforms non-hydrate phospholipids into their hydrate form by breaking down metal/phosphatide complexes with a strong acid(Phosphoric Acid)
    • In neutralization the removal of free fatty acids and residual gums takes place. 
    • Washing is the removal of residual gums by hot water. 
    • Drying is the removal of moisture under a vacuum. 
  6. The reacted mixture is then passed through a trim heat exchanger to ensure the proper temperature for the centrifugation in the Hermetic Self cleaning centrifuge. The light coloured, refined miscella is easily separted from the dark brown gelatinuous soapstock in the specially designed centrifuge with nitrogen blanketing. The oil is dissolved in hexane in miscella refining, which is why the separators which separate the soapstock from the neutralization process are blanketed with inert gas.
  7. The refined miscella then reenters the extraction plant stripping system for removal of remaining hexane.
  8. The soapstock, with its low hexane content, is usually pumped directly to the desolventiser-toaster for the recovery of hexane. 
  9. The addition of soapstock to the meal in the deodorized tank helps prevent excessively dusty meal and gives it a more natural appearance and makes it easier to handle. The soapstock generally increases the weight and fat content of the meal by approximately 0.9% and adds to its nutrient and commercial value as an animal feed. 
  10. The soapstock also tends to decrease the free gossypol content remaining in the solvent extracted meal.
  11. At this point you can utilise the end product - the so called vegetable oil - for your diesel engines. 

And as if the above was not sufficient the biodiesel is further processed into becoming the soap (ups...margarine).

Stage 2: comprises of bleaching, deodorisation and fractionation.

2.1 Bleaching: the bleaching process "gently" removes residual phosphatides, metals, soaps and oxidation products in addition to colouring matters:

  1. The feedstock is heated up in the Crude/Neutral Oil Economiser or Crude/Neutral Oil Heater to degumming or bleaching temperature

  2. When there is a need for acid pretreatment, phosphoric acid is mixed vigorously with the oil in a Acid Mixer to ensure efficient mixing

    • When acid pre-treatment is not required , the feed stock is fed directly to the Bleacher after heating through the cascade vacuum dryer. Bleaching Earth and Activated carbon is added to the oil through a dosing unit which is controlled by PLC. The Bleacher is proprietary designed with internal partitions and set of high efficiency turbine agitators to avoid short cycling and provide necessary retention time before filtration. The conjunction of vacuum dryer with a Bleacher is what is unique about "SOFTBLEACH" whereby oil going to the Bleacher is thoroughly dried and deaerated in the cascade vacuum dryer besides the fugitive particles from the Bleacher are countercurrently scrubbed by the downcoming oil and hence bleaching earth going to the hotwell is avoided.

  3. The resultant mixture is than held in a Retention Tank to allow for the precipitation of gums before going to the Bleacher through the cascade vacuum dryer.

  4. The bleached oil from the Pressure Leaf Filters is transferred to the Bleached oil tank for intermediate storage.

And it goes on: 2.2 Deodorising: this ensures an extremely high steam to-oil interfacial surface without buildups or stagnant zones. Fatty acid removal occurs instantaneously and hydrolysis is avoided. Lower temperatures and lower residence times result in lower trans-fatty acid formation.

And on: 2.3 Fractionation: in the process of oil processing, a fractionation process consists of a controlled cooling of the oil, thereby inducing a partial, or ‘fractional’, crystallization. The remaining liquid (olein) is then separated from the solid fraction (stearin) by means of filtration or centrifugation. This technique is called fractional crystallization and used to obtain oils or fats more suitable for example, as cooking oils or for margarine/shortening production. 

Several yummy ways of doing it:

  • Dry Fractionation: through batch crystallization of oil without using additives by controlled cooling and subsequent continuous filtration.
  • Solvent Fractionation: through continuous crystallization of the oil in a solvent followed by separation of the liquid and solid fractions through a continuous drum filter. Solvent fractionation, involves the use of hexane or acetone to let the high-melting components crystallize in a very low-viscous organic solvent. This can be helpful with respect to the selectivity of the reaction, but mainly offers advantages in the field of phase separation: much purer solid fractions can be obtained, even with a vacuum filtration.
  • Detergent Fractionation: through batch or continuous crystallization of the oil by controlled cooling and separation of the fractions either by gravity or centrifugation after adding a surfactant. 

You can't FAT-ing believe it's not butter because it ain't!

In summary, if after reading all this description of the highly industrial process that involves high temperatures, pressures and an array of toxic chemicals you still decide that this sh** is healthy and you can call it food: all the best luck to you!

Ask yourself also why your "expert" doctor/nutritionist/dietician and the BHF insists that you replace butter with this fat that is only worthy of oiling garage doors hinges. 

Subject 2: Real Butter 

Real butter has been around for thousands of years and obtaining it involves the simple mechanical mixing (churning) of cream. Cream settles on top of milk when left at 20-30 deg Celsius for 24-36 hours. That's it. That's the only ingredient you need to obtain it and the only tool. Full stop.

Here I draw the bottom line. You make your judgement.