This didn’t come as a surprise to everyone though. As long ago as 1940 Harvard medical school ran a study looking at margarine and butter. They came to the conclusion that margarine was actually dangerous for anyone with heart problems. However, as is often the case with the medical establishment, advice to heart patients has only changed in the last few years to avoid margarine and substitute butter instead.
There is a dark background to margarine. During the Second World War, many foods were in short supply and substitutes were sought as a short term alternative. Margarine could be synthesised from crops and was actually cheaper to produce than butter. However, there was a big problem. In order to convert the oils such as rapeseed into a solid, very high temperatures are needed and it needs a catalyst to accelerate this reaction. Nickel is used as this catalyst and it needs around 150 degrees of heat to make this conversion work.
Nickel is a known toxin and a residue is transferred into the resultant margarine. This basically made this unfit for human consumption. However, with the food shortages during the Second World War, the toxicity limits were revised upwards so that this could be used as a food. This was probably a short term measure, but ended up never being removed when the war finished.
There are also other issues. The high temperature involved also produces trans-fatty acids and the margarine is also a hydrogenated fat. Both of these are very undesirable. Our bodies are basically unable to break these up with raising our temperature to around 150 degrees! There have been many reports and studies which suggest that this contributes to arterial plaque and increases the risk of heart attack, the exact opposite of what had be claimed.
One of the classic tests is to put butter on a knife and see if it stays there. It is difficult to get butter to stick. Try the same with margarine and it is difficult to get this off. Its molecule is very close to that of plastic, not exactly something that you would want anywhere near your body.
There are a handful of margarines that are safe and they will be labelled as containing no hydrogenated fats. They are available in health food shops.
However, it is also worth remembering that the longest lived race of people is called the Hunza’s. Their diet consists of almost entirely fatty dairy and animal products. But despite what the health police might say, they have an average life expectancy of around 100, way better than us in the West!
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