Margarine was invented in France by Hippolyte Mèges-Mouries in response to Napoleon III’s call for a cheap alternative to butter for French workers and for his armies in the Franco-Prussian war. The first margarine, consisting of beef tallow churned with milk, was patented in 1869.
Margarine was invented by a French chemist in 1869, when fats and oils were scarce in Western Europe. It was originally an extract from animal fat, but today margarine is mostly made from vegetable oils, including corn, cottonseed, safflower, soy and sunflower.
Today, margarine comes in many forms, from a hardened stick that resembles a stick of butter to a variety of softened products in tubs and other containers. One tablespoon of stick margarine contains about 100 calories per tablespoon, 11 to 12 grams of total fat, 2 to 3 grams of saturated fat, 3 to 4 grams of polyunsaturated fat, 5 to 6 grams of monounsaturated fat and no cholesterol. It may be fortified with vitamins A and E and omega-3 (EPA) fatty acids.
Role of Margarine in the Diet
Margarine is recognized by health professionals and consumers alike as a healthy table spread and a cheaper alternative to butter for use in cooking and in food preparation. Margarine makes an important nutritional contribution to the diet by being a source of one or more essential fat-soluble vitamins such as vitamins A and/or D and by being low in saturated fat. Margarine is cholesterol-free. Newer margarine products are also low in trans fatty acids and in some cases are reduced in fat and energy. Some margarines can also be classified as a functional food, because they are enriched with plant sterol or stanol esters that have been shown to lower blood cholesterol levels. Its price, taste, spreadability, and convenience have made margarine a dietary staple in many countries around the world.