Is butter bad for you, or might this vilified food actually have some value? If you’re comparing butter to margarine or the butter-like spreads in your grocer’s cooler, then yes, butter is far better. It skips the trans fats and is high in many nutrients. But even when NOT comparing it to unhealthful options, butter can still be a health-boosting food. While butter has gotten a bad rap over the ages, we are now stuck trying to sort out the truth from the hype, and as many people are doing, enjoying the buttery goodness in the process.
The Western Diet shifted several decades ago, eventually leading to the low-fat craze and the belief that fats caused disease. But as we are now finding out, this isn’t necessarily true. Saturated fats like those in butter don’t necessarily contribute to heart disease. As a matter of fact, it’s the highly processed carbohydrates that we need to be wary of instead.
Sweden recently became the first country to formally reject the low-fat idea, by developing national dietary guidelines that favor lower carbohydrate consumption and higher fats. This followed the results of a study from the Swedish Council on Health Technology Assessment which found that health markers could be dramatically improved with a lower carbohydrate lifestyle.
The Swedes, and others, know that fat isn’t the enemy here, and things like butter can be part of a healthful diet.
For decades, butter was shoved to the side while margarine took over, but as this article presents, butter is actually much better for you. Butter is a source of many beneficial nutrients—things like vitamins A, D, E, and K2—all fat-soluble vitamins which are best absorbed by the body when included in a high fat package like butter.
Butter also contains trace minerals like copper, zinc, chromium, iodine, selenium, and manganese. It is rich in healthy cholesterol that protects the brain, intestines, and nervous system.
But not all butter is created equal. Butter from grass-fed cows, for instance, will have higher amounts of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) which protects the body against cancer and aids in the building of muscle. Raw butter, or that which hasn’t been pasteurized, contains something known as the Wulzen factor, a hormone-like substance that may be effective at preventing arthritis.
All of these benefits are starting to reach consumers as the American Butter Institute says butter consumption is at a 40-year per capital high.