Butter vs. Margarine and Other Food Face-Offs

Healthy eating shouldn't be complicated, so we've set out to get the truth about these health food face-offs once and for all.
09/16/2014 12:53 pm ET Updated Nov 16, 2014

Anyone who tries to eat healthfully and follow the latest nutrition advice will tell you there is a lot of conflicting information out there. On any given day a particular food may be touted as a "superfood" with multiple health benefits, and the next day its title is revoked because it allegedly causes cancer. With an overwhelming amount of ever-changing information, how do we know which foods are healthiest for us to eat? How do we know which ones truly live up to their health claims and which ones are just passing fads?

In general, it's best to eat a variety of whole foods for health; foods that have as few ingredients as possible, are either minimally processed or not processed at all, and that have no additives or preservatives. Simple foods like fresh fruits and vegetables, grains, legumes, seeds, nuts, and certain meats are some of the healthiest foods you can eat. Many nutritionists recommend eating a variety of colorful whole foods and, when you do eat multi-ingredient foods, to choose those whose ingredients you can readily recognize. As a general rule of thumb, don't eat a food if you can't pronounce any of the ingredients in the ingredient list.

To make matters more complicated, some whole foods are more nutritious (and provide more health benefits) than others. Though you're generally making a good and healthy choice when you choose whole foods, some don't deliver the health benefits they promise. This can happen for a variety of reasons including our bodies' ability to absorb certain nutrients, the effect of cooking (or not cooking) a particular ingredient, or the exaggeration of health claims, to name a few.

As a result, health foods are often pitted against each other. Turkey burgers are better than beef patties, quinoa is better than brown rice, and so on. Healthy eating shouldn't be complicated, so we've set out to get the truth about these health food face-offs once and for all.

  • Kale vs. Spinach
    Kale has had an amazing resurgence in popularity lately and there’s a good reason for all the hype: <a href="http://ndb.nal.u
    Kale has had an amazing resurgence in popularity lately and there’s a good reason for all the hype: kale has more protein, more calcium, and more vitamin C than spinach, plus a ton of vitamin A, and vitamin K. Plus, kale usually costs less. That’s a whole lot of reasons to eat kale! Photo Credit: ShutterstockClick Here to see More of Food Face-Offs
  • Greek Yogurt vs. Low-Fat Yogurt
    Assuming you choose a variety that’s low in added sugar, Greek yogurt wins this face-off with its extra protein and lower sod
    Assuming you choose a variety that’s low in added sugar, Greek yogurt wins this face-off with its extra protein and lower sodium. And, if fat is a concern, many brands of Greek yogurt now offer low-fat or fat-free varieties. Photo Credit: © Flickr / Leslie
  • Fresh Produce vs. Frozen Produce
    Over time, frozen produce does lose some nutrient value, but not enough to significantly impact their healthfulness. <a href=
    Over time, frozen produce does lose some nutrient value, but not enough to significantly impact their healthfulness. Frozen vegetables are often “picked at the peak of ripeness” (a.k.a. “in season” — a time when their nutrient value is highest) and “flash-frozen,” a process that helps minimize nutrient loss. The bottom line? Produce picked in-season retains more nutrients than when it's picked unripe and shipped at higher temperatures. Eat fruits and vegetables that are in season for the best nutrition, but if you can’t get fresh fruit in season, you might be better off with frozen. Photo Credit: ShutterstockClick Here to see More of Food Face-Offs
  • Butter vs. Margarine
    We’ve all heard that “butter is back,” but is it really? We say yes. <a href="http://health.clevelandclinic.org/2014/01/marga
    We’ve all heard that “butter is back,” but is it really? We say yes. Margarine can have up to five times as much trans fat as butter (fat that lowers your “good” cholesterol and raises your “bad” cholesterol) and may actually increase the risk of heart disease. Butter is higher in saturated fat though, so if that’s a concern, try olive oil instead. Photo Credit: Shutterstock
  • Cow’s Milk vs. Almond Milk
    Cow’s milk proves that some things just don’t go out of style. It has significantly <a href="http://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/food
    Cow’s milk proves that some things just don’t go out of style. It has significantly more protein than almond milk, and store-bought almond milk is usually loaded with sugar, flavorings, and fillers. Unless you’re lactose intolerant, cow’s milk is still a great, healthy choice. Click Here to see More of Food Face-OffsPhoto Credit: Shutterstock

-Kristie Collado, The Daily Meal