I recently came across the new I Can't Believe It's Not Butter advertising campaign promoting their "Turn the Tub Around" video competition. The videos include a "cute" little song featuring the product I Can't Believe It's Not Butter as a "healthy" alternative to real butter. The company declares that their product has less saturated fat than real butter and that it contains no hydrogenated oils.
What are hydrogenated oils?
Quick background information regarding hydrogenated oils: these are man-made oils, also known as trans fats, which deliver absolutely no good nutritional value; in fact, they increase risk of obesity and heart disease exponentially. They do nothing but horrible things to our bodies and were only invented very recently. They only exist in processed foods.
Trans fats also include partially hydrogenated oils; not just the hydrogenated kind. We should avoid any food that includes trans fats, hydrogenated oils, or partially hydrogenated oils. Consuming products with these ingredients is much the same as deliberately injecting poison into your bloodstream.
Now let's take a look at the ingredient list for I Can't Believe It's Not Butter:
Ingredients in I Can't Believe It's Not Butter
The second item on that ingredient list says "Vegetable oil blend (liquid soybean oil, partially hydrogenated* soybean oil)." That's right; I Can't Believe It's Not Butter blatantly lies about the ingredients in their product! Artificial flavors are also prevalent in this product, which are also an unnecessary and toxic ingredient in any food product.
Real butter is not going to kill you. It is a real food, and as long as you don't consume large quantities of it, it will not have any major negative effects on your health (by which I mean, only consume small quantities of it, and try to reserve it for special occasions).
If you are vegan, or if you prefer not to eat butter, an excellent alternative is Earth Balance (not to be confused with Smart Balance, which contains artificial flavors and other unhealthy ingredients). If the reason that you prefer margarine to butter is that it is more spreadable, simply leave your butter in a dish on the counter rather than the fridge. It will easily spread on your toast. Besides, I should think that trading in a spreadable substance for a poison-free substance is worth it.
The rhetoric that food manufacturers use is incredibly misleading. The only way to counter it is to do the work ourselves and read the ingredient lists: looks on these packages can be deceiving.
*Emphasis my own.
NOTE: I Can't Believe It's Not Butter has since changed their recipe, and the ingredients list no longer includes hydrogenated oils or partially hydrogenated oils. It's a step in the right direction!