Without going all Paula Dean on you, there are a lot of (health) reasons to enjoy butter and to eat it often.
Is Butter Healthy?
There has been
some a lot of anti-butter propaganda in the past, and even a time when margarine and vegetable oils were considered healthier options (not so much). But the fact is, there is a lot of research and documentation on the health benefits of butter, such as the following…
1. Help Avoid Heart Disease
But doesn’t butter (and other saturated fats) cause heart disease? Again, not so much…
As this article explains:
Heart disease was rare in America at the turn of the century. Between 1920 and 1960, the incidence of heart disease rose precipitously to become America’s number one killer. During the same period butter consumption plummeted from eighteen pounds per person per year to four. It doesn’t take a Ph.D. in statistics to conclude that butter is not a cause. Actually butter contains many nutrients that protect us from heart disease. First among these is vitamin A which is needed for the health of the thyroid and adrenal glands, both of which play a role in maintaining the proper functioning of the heart and cardiovascular system. Abnormalities of the heart and larger blood vessels occur in babies born to vitamin A deficient mothers. Butter is America’s best and most easily absorbed source of vitamin A.
Butter is also a good dietary source cholesterol. What?? Cholesterol an anti-oxidant?? Yes indeed, cholesterol is a potent anti-oxidant that is flooded into the blood when we take in too many harmful free-radicals–usually from damaged and rancid fats in margarine and highly processed vegetable oils.3 A Medical Research Council survey showed that men eating butter ran half the risk of developing heart disease as those using margarine.4″
Butter is the only source of a unique “anti-stiffness” factor that helps avoid or reduce problems like arthritis in the joints. This same nutrient helps prevent calcification in other parts of the body (hello arteries).
The catch? This special “anti-stiffness” factor is only found in raw, un-pasteurized butter. Eat much of that lately?
3. Tooth Health
Turns out teeth can heal.. (say what?)
Butter contains many important fat soluble vitamins that are necessary for many aspects of health, including oral health. It is necessary for the teeth to remineralize (from the inside out) and it contains a nutrient known as “Activator X” (now known as Vitamin K2) which Weston A. Price found was instrumental in oral health.
4. For Children
Most kids love butter, and I’ve seen many kids go so far as to take a bite out of a stick of butter. Turns out, they are on to something important as butter is a source of many nutrients that kids need for proper growth.
“Chief among them is vitamin A. Individuals who have been deprived of sufficient vitamin A during gestation tend to have narrow faces and skeletal structure, small palates and crowded teeth.16 Extreme vitamin A deprivation results in blindness, skeletal problems and other birth defects.17Individuals receiving optimal vitamin A from the time of conception have broad handsome faces, strong straight teeth, and excellent bone structure. Vitamin A also plays an important role in the development of the sex characteristics. Calves fed butter substitutes sicken and die before reaching maturity.18″
5. The Thyroid
Many people these days struggle with underlying thyroid problems and it turns out that the movement away from butter (along with some other factors) could be contributing to the problem.
The specialized medium chain fatty acids in coconut oil make it a superfood for the thyroid and when combined with butter, it creates a powerful support for the thyroid. Butter contains Vitamin A and a highly absorbable form of Iodine, both of which support healthy throid function.
“In the 1940’s research indicated that increased fat intake caused cancer.5 The abandonment of butter accelerated; margarine–formerly a poor man’s food– was accepted by the well-to-do. But there was a small problem with the way this research was presented to the public. The popular press neglected to stress that fact that the “saturated” fats used in these experiments were not naturally saturated fats but partially hydrogenated or hardened fats–the kind found mostly in margarine but not in butter. Researchers stated–they may have even believed it–that there was no difference between naturally saturated fats in butter and artificially hardened fats in margarine and shortening. So butter was tarred with the black brush of the fabricated fats, and in such a way that the villains got passed off as heroes.
Actually many of the saturated fats in butter have strong anti-cancer properties. Butter is rich in short and medium chain fatty acid chains that have strong anti-tumor effects.6 Butter also contains conjugated linoleic acid which gives excellent protection against cancer.7
Vitamin A and the anti-oxidants in butter–vitamin E, selenium and cholesterol–protect against cancer as well as heart disease.”
Conjugated linoleic acid or CLA for short is a “good fat” found in grass-fed butter, dairy, and meat. (In fact they’re 3-5x higher than their grain-fed counterparts.) I explain exactly why CLA is so great in this post, but in summary studies show it may 1) fight cancer, 2) reduce inflammation, 3) soothe asthma, 4) boost the immune system, 5) promote weight loss, and 6) strengthen bones.
Sounds like something I want more of!
Bottom Line: The Source Matters
Pasteurized store-bought butter is certainly a step up from any type of vegetable oil product, but grass-fed raw butter is the best choice when it is available. I get Kalona brand butter (from here) and use it in our cooking and even in my coffee.
This article was medically reviewed by Dr. Scott Soerries, MD, Family Physician and Medical Director of SteadyMD. As always, this is not personal medical advice and we recommend that you talk with your doctor.
Do you love butter? How do you eat it? Share below!