Margarine is made with vegetable oils.
What's in margarine?
Vegetable oils and fats
Margarine is made from vegetable oils which are derived from the seeds and beans of plants such as sunflower, rape, flax and soy. After harvesting the seeds are pressed and the oil is extracted. After refining, it is ready to go either on your tables or in your margarines! Most margarines contain a blend of vegetable oils to get a balanced nutritional composition.
Vegetable oils, e.g. rapeseed, soybean and sunflower oil, are liquid both at room temperature and in the refrigerator. They are too low in solid fat to give firmness to margarine and structure it. To make the final product solid without hydrogenating the oils, a small proportion of solid fats, like palm and coconut oils, are added to the blend. Margarines can be fit for vegetarians and vegans: just check the labels for possible presence of lactose, soy or sunflower-lecithin,milkpowder or fish oil.
Emulsifiers and additives
Sometimes water is blended with milk proteins and sometimes salt to enhance the taste. Citric acid (as in lemon) or lactic acid (which gives sour cream its fresh taste) is added for the same reason. Adding a vegetable emulsifier to the oils and fats blend prevents the liquid ingredients from separating later on when the water is added. Carotenoids, known as the components that give colour to carrots, tomatoes and pumpkin, are added to give margarine its yellow colour. To ensure microbiological safety, a common food preservative is finally added in most low fat margarines: potassium sorbate.
Margarines and spreads contain mainly vitamins A, D, and E and without fat in the diet these vitamins cannot be absorbed and used by the body.
- Vitamin A is vital for good eyesight and healthy skin and plays a role in the immune system.
- Vitamin D facilitates calcium and phosphorus absorption. This way it helps you to maintain strong bones, teeth and muscles. It can also be made by the body when the skin is exposed to sunlight. Vitamin D deficiency causes bone rickets in children and bone fractures in adults.
Vitamin E is an important protector of essential fatty acids. It protects the essential fats in cell membranes from oxidative damage.