Butter and margarine review

We check out over 90 spreads and dairy blends, and pick the healthier options.
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  • Updated:1 Jan 2005



Margarine’s now a ‘spread’ and butter can come from the fridge soft enough to spread on your toast. But when you’re faced with so many different spreads in the supermarket dairy cabinet it’s hard to know which is the healthiest.

In brief

  • For the healthiest choice, look for a spread that’s low in saturated and trans fats. We found plenty to choose from — see Healthy choices.
  • Olive oil spreads contain a lot less actual olive oil than you might think. There are plenty of cheaper spreads that are healthier.
  • Dairy blends (a mix of butter and vegetable oil) can be much easier to spread straight from the fridge than plain butter. But even the best of them have more saturated fat than most of the other spreads.

What happened to margarine?

Only 10 of the spreads we found still have ‘margarine’ in their name. Old fashioned marge has almost disappeared from the supermarkets. Why?

It’s not just a desire to seem trendy. The Food Standards Code defines ‘margarine’ as a spread containing at least 80% fat. As most spreads now have less fat than this, they can’t be called ‘margarine’ and still comply with the labelling regulations (unless they’re called ‘margarine spreads’).

Please note: this information was current as of January 2005 but is still a useful guide today.



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