Best for your Bread: Butter, Margarine or...?

Ever since I can remember I’ve had a strong dislike for both butter and margarine. To this day people still ask me questions like: “How can you eat that freshly baked bread without spreading anything over it? Surely it’s dry and bland?” My answers to these two questions are usually brief: “Easy. No.” Here’s why…


I grew up in the southern suburbs of Johannesburg, South Africa. An area of the city known for its diverse cultures and predominant Mediterranean communities like Portuguese, Italian, Lebanese and Greek.

The culinary influences of these communities had a strong impact on my palate from a young age and they affected the choices I made when it came to food…especially freshly baked bread drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and dipped in aged balsamic vinegar.

In fact, this combination not only became a firm favorite of mine, it’s also one of the healthiest when compared with butter and margarine.

I cringe when I see margarine adverts promoting products claiming to slash cholesterol levels while the margarine itself contains hydrogenated oils! Some margarine products may even contain additives and colorants to make them taste better and look more appealing. Not the sort of stuff I’d like to spread over an appetizing slice of bread.

Butter on the hand contains animal fat which made up of cholesterol and saturated fat. In small infrequent amounts, saturated fat and cholesterol – despite popular belief – can help provide various health benefits such as playing an important role in balancing and regulating enzymes and hormones.

However, my preference still lies with extra virgin olive oil…drizzled over a slice of Mediterranean bread (none of that horrible white bread) and dunked into some balsamic vinegar. But this olive oil / balsamic vinegar combination doesn’t end here.

I also enjoy adding a little bit to the salad I have every day for lunch. Oh yes, with a bit of cracked black pepper…yum! Our Chairman, Warren Matthews even makes his own salad dressing using these three ingredients as well as a few other healthy additions. Here’s Warren’s recipe which can be found on his blog.

Note from Warren: “I always use butter…the natural New Zealand type, mainly because of my upbringing in New Zealand. I agree that this is much healthier than margarine as your body knows how to use natural saturated fats and they can be good for you. Margarine is not only bad because of the trans-fats but also the other added chemicals. It can be noted that some labels for margarines now say contains ‘some trans-fats’ but does not specify how much.”

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