Butter is high in fat and a known contributor to heart disease and high cholesterol. In fact, an entire industry has developed trying to provide butter substitutions and alternatives. Margarine is the most common butter substitute, and many brands try to stand out by offering various benefits to consumers, such as being trans-fat free, dairy-free or, in the case of certain spray-bottle margarines, fat-, cholesterol-, sodium- and calorie-free.
Although these products may sound fantastic -- after all, who doesn't want a calorie-free butter substitute -- the reality is that they are, in many ways, worse for you than butter. Butter is natural and made from milk and salt, whereas margarines are typically loaded with hydrogenated oils, preservatives and chemicals. So although margarine will work as a substitute in a pinch, it's better for most of us to simply use smaller quantities of the real thing.