Are you still trying to decide on the butter vs margarine debate? Don’t. Whether you’re baking goodies or eating your morning toast, butter is clearly the better choice because of its health benefits and delicious taste. It was the choice of our ancestors when heart disease and high cholesterol were virtually unknown, and today research is documenting what those folks instinctively knew.
Here are 3 important reasons to make butter a regular part of your diet.
Butter and other high fat dairy foods contain many anti-cancer factors, including short and medium chain fatty acids which have been associated with anti-tumor action, according to endocrine specialist Dr. Ray Peat. Conjugated linoleic acid found in abundance in butter has powerful anti-cancer actions as well. Women who consumed four or more servings of butter and other high fat dairy items each day had a 41% reduction in colorectal cancer risk compared to those who consumed less than one serving daily.
Those who prefer synthetic foods to real ones have perpetuated the myth that eating saturated fat causes breast cancer, but studies have consistently found no association. One study investigated the relationship between meat, egg and high fat dairy product consumption with breast cancer risk. More than 7000 women were followed for over eight years to track their consumption of these foods and risk levels for breast cancer, but results revealed no association.
Butter is the only animal source of 12-carbon lauric acid, a medium chain fatty acid that has particularly strong anti-cancer effects. Other sources are coconut oil, palm kernel oil and breast milk.
Butter is the only source of butyric acid, a short chain fatty acid that reduces inflammation in the colon and maintains the integrity of the cells that line the colon. When immunity is compromised, butyric acid can inhibit undifferentiated cell growth.
The ample amounts of vitamins A and D found in butter are essential for healthy immune function. And butter is one of the few good sources of selenium, a mineral that works with zinc to prevent and heal breast cancer. In a study that followed more than 1300 people for an eight year period, researchers found that having optimal levels of selenium reduced the risk of lung cancer by 46%, colorectal cancer by 58%, and prostate cancer by 63%.
Butter along with other high fat dairy foods is rich in nutrients that protect the heart. These include vitamin A, which underwrites proper functioning of the entire cardiovascular system. The babies of vitamin A deficient mothers display many abnormalities including those of the heart and blood vessels.
The ample amounts of lecithin in butter assure proper metabolism of fats, while its many anti-oxidants fight artery-weakening free radicals. These anti-oxidants counter free-radical damage from oxidized and rancid fats too.
Do you know that cholesterol is an antioxidant? This was documented back in 1984. In 2009, a national study showed that nearly 75 percent of patients hospitalized for heart attack had cholesterol levels that indicated they were not at risk for a cardiovascular event, based on national cholesterol guidelines. This finding suggests that cholesterol is not even a factor in creating heart disease, as the medical establishment has tried to make us believe.
Butter is an excellent source of cholesterol, a substance that maintains cellular integrity, is used in the production of the steroid hormones, and is the material from which bile salts are made. Breast milk contains high levels of cholesterol, which is essential for the development of the infant brain and nervous system.
Lauric acid increases HDL cholesterol, otherwise known as the ‘good’ cholesterol, and it has been characterized as having a more favorable effect on total HDL than any other fatty acid, saturated or unsaturated. Low HDL is correlated with many negative health outcomes that range from mild to severe and include metabolic syndrome and the development of atherosclerosis.
Eating fat does not make you fat, says Mark Hyman, M.D. He traces that erroneous belief to a study from decades ago that examined heart risk based on lifestyle and dietary habits, but drew its conclusions from correlation rather than causation. Dr. Hyman points out that just because A is correlated with B does not mean that A causes B.
Nevertheless, this false conclusion has persisted, at least in part because food technologists and processors jumped on it as a reason to bring many new cheaply made and nutritionally devoid processed food products to market.
Human fat tissue is composed primarily of long chain fatty acids, the kind of fatty acids found in olive oil and polyunsaturated oils. There is very little storage of the short and medium chain fatty acids found in butter. Instead, these are used to provide energy for the body rather than to pack on pounds. Eating butter can actually help you lose weight because it is nutrient rich and leaves you with a feeling of being satisfied.
This feeling is accentuated by butter’s fabulous taste. On the other hand, margarine and other butter substitutes that don’t provide readily useful energy can result in overeating or even binging because the body is not being given the nutrition it needs.