For decades, the dispute has raged over whether butter or margarine is healthier.

Almost six kilos of margarine has statistically eaten every German citizen last year. Since the first margarine of beef tallow and skimmed milk was blended together in 1869, margarine has become a tasty spread with health claims. Nowadays, margarine is usually made from vegetable oils which harden or harden at room temperature. Another chemical process to obtain solid fats from oils is transesterification.

Margarine is a fat blend of vegetable solid or hydrogenated fats, the proportion of which must be at least 80 percent. In addition, margarine contains water or skimmed milk. So that the fat connects with the water usually the emulsifier sojalecitin is added. The aroma is enhanced by acidulants, lactic acid, citric acid, sour whey or yogurt cultures. The yellowish color of margarine usually comes from the added beta-carotene. In the case of semi-fat margarine, sorbic acid is frequently used in addition as a preservative. The addition of fat-soluble vitamins A, D, and E are also widespread in order to achieve the nutritional value of butter.

Margarine contains only small amounts of saturated fatty acids, but possibly trans fatty acids. In a test by Stiftung Warentest in 2002, only 6 out of 40 margarines contained unwanted trans fatty acids. Through new manufacturing processes, the manufacturers have managed to prevent the emergence of this critical substance.

Depending on the composition of the oils used in the preparation, margarine may contain many monounsaturated fatty acids. In particular, the olive oil-containing products contain many monounsaturated fatty acids.

Margarine is a high-tech product. Usually natural or nature-identical aromas, often also lactic and citric acid, provide a butter-like or other pleasant taste. Neuform or Biomargarine is usually processed less. These types of margarine are usually based on palm kernel, palm or coconut fat, since when using these solid fats can be dispensed with a cure. These fats are very rich in saturated fat. All organic margarine received in the test of the Stiftung Warentest bad grades. The testers preferred conventional products. Organic margarine tasted satisfying at best.


Margarine is usually quite rich in vitamins. Vitamin E occurs in many vegetable oils. Many margarine manufacturers artificially add vitamin A, D and vitamin E to their product. Vitamin A and D are contained in butter and are missing in pure margarine. The addition of these vitamins compensates for this disadvantage.

The values ​​for the polyunsaturated fatty acids varied greatly with margarine. At a high level, the proportion of more valuable monounsaturated fatty acids is lower.

Slimming with margarine

Vollfettmargarine is no better for losing weight than butter. Both contain at least 80 percent fat. Whether the fat comes from animals or plants does not affect the calorific value. 80 grams of fat always deliver 720 kilocalories. Semi-fatty margarine can save calories. But it is important that it is not twice as thick on the bread. From a health point of view speaks little against the butter. It is easily digestible and when used sparingly, the higher content of saturated fat and cholesterol, in a healthy person, does not matter. A problem with fat metabolism occurs only when the butter is abundantly used and the food additionally contains many fatty foods such as cheese, sausage, and cream sauces. With an already increased blood fat value, a change to margarine may be useful.

The nutritional benefits of margarine are mainly due to the oils used in its manufacture. Mostly sunflower, rapeseed, soy or corn germ oil. They contain monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids.


Reform margarine:

Reform margarine must not contain hydrogenated fats. The transesterification to harden oils is prohibited. Nevertheless, to achieve a strike resistance solid vegetable fats such as coconut or palm fat are processed. Therefore, reformed margarine has a higher saturated fat content.

Diet margarine

Diet margarine may only be made from vegetable fats and oils. If the proportion of polyunsaturated fatty acids is at least 50 percent, a hypotensive effect may be noted.

Household margarine/table margarine

Household margarine or table margarine often contain a mixture of vegetable and animal fats. Due to the lower content of unsaturated fatty acids, this margarine also tolerates higher temperatures and is therefore suitable for baking and cooking.

Butter contains large amounts of saturated fat and cholesterol but no trans fat.

Butter is available in 3 commercial classes:

  • German brand butter (Austria: Teebutter)

German brand butter must be made from cream or cream.

  • Dairy butter (Austria: Tafelbutter)

Dairy butter may also consist of milk and whey cream.

  • Cook butter: Only for industrial processing, not available in food retail.

Butter must be at least 82% milk fat.

Halbfettbutter: Semi-fat butter contains only 39 to 41 percent milk fat. Often, gelatin is used to bind the water.

Mixed products: For mixed products butter is mixed with vegetable oils. This makes the butter more spreadable and reduces the proportion of saturated fatty acids in favor of the unsaturated ones.