Margarines are made from vegetable oils and have been touted as a healthy alternative to butter, but research is emerging to suggest otherwise.
According to a large cross-sectional study in Germany, families who predominantly use margarine (as opposed to butter) are more likely to have children with eczema. And frequent consumption of vegetable oils, margarine or frying fats during the last four weeks of pregnancy significantly increases the risk of having a child who develops eczema by the age of two.
If you have a look at the ingredient panel of most margarine tubs, you’ll see they contain chemical additives such as preservative 202 and research shows food preservatives cause a worsening of eczema symptoms in more than 50 per cent of eczema sufferers.
Margarines usually contain artificial colours, which 40 per cent of you will react to, and antioxidants BHA/320 or 319, which can worsen symptoms in 21 per cent of eczema sufferers.
The verdict: Avoid margarine, and if you are not allergic to dairy products, favour pure butter (butter without added vegetable oils or antioxidant etc - most contain vegetable oils so check the ingredients list!).
If you want to use butter, use it sparingly. Keep in mind that butter is rich in saturated fats and it's best to avoid it.
Sausenthaler, S. et al., 2006, ‘Margarine and butter consumption, eczema and allergic sensitization in children’, Pediatric Allergy and Immunology , vol. 17, no. 2.
Bolte, G, et al., 2001, ‘Margarine consumption and allergy in children’, American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.