Wary consumers have learned over time to not trust the claims made on food packaging, even though the industry is heavily regulated. Much confusion has erupted in recent years regarding the legitimacy of margarine as a healthy butter substitute. Simply put, some margarine brands are healthier than butter, while others that masquerade as a superior alternative are anything but.
In general, margarine in stick form tends to be higher in unhealthy trans fats than margarine packaged in tubs -- those fats make the substance more solid, which helps stick margarine hold its shape. Experts recommend reading nutrition labels and choosing a brand of margarine with the lowest level of trans fats and no more than 2 grams of combined trans and saturated fats. A little bit of label-reading can go a long way toward lowering fat and calorie levels without sacrificing flavor.