Margarine was invented in 1869 by a French chemist, who used suet to produce a cheap type of fat to supply the soldiers in the FrancoPrussian War. The Dutch invented a method of adding hydrogen to the unsaturated vegetable oils thus causing them to solidify. It has taken considerable research to develop the modern product. Several types of palatable margarines are sold today; hard varieties for cooking, easy spreaders, soft polyunsaturated types and diet margarines which incorporate fifty per cent more water.
When margarine was introduced on a large scale, legislation was passed which enforced the enrichment of margarine with vitamins A and D. Margarine raised nutritional standards in the early part of this century, and experiments have (ailed to show that butter is in any way a superior product. The vitamin enrichment of margarine ensures a constant level, as opposed to butter which varies seasonally in its vitamin content.
Many doctors and scientists now believe that we should not eat so much animal fat. It has been shown that there is a correlation between the large amounts of cream, butter and meat fat, which we eat in the Western world and our climbing death rates from coronary heart disease. Some doctors now recommend people to eat vegetable fats or oils and polyunsaturated margarines, but the experts are not agreed. Our own Department of Health just advises us to eat less fat of all kinds. Intakes of large amounts of unsaturated fats could increase the risk of cancerproducing agents in the gut, so the fats problem is a controversy which appears to have no simple solution.