Butter has long carried a stigma of promoting fat and causing heart disease in the west due to its high level of saturated fat. But some of the healthiest tribal cultures around the world consume high amounts of butter and other saturated fats. Numerous traditional diets from African Masai, Eskimo, Mediterranean, French, and Japanese eat saturated fat in abundance, and yet display lower rates of heart disease and heart attack as well as lower cholesterol levels than western countries.
However, recent studies have failed to show a link between saturated fat intake and risk of cardiovascular disease. In fact saturated fat has actually been found to be protective.
Experts are now saying that the belief that high-fat diets are bad for arteries is based on faulty interpretation of scientific studies which has led to millions being ‘over-medicated’ with statin drugs. Some nations like Sweden, are now adopting dietary guidelines that encourage foods high in fat but low in carbs. Let’s look if there is really a relation between the two.
The Scientific View On Butter:
A landmark study in the 1970s concluded there was a link between heart disease and blood cholesterol, which correlated with the calories provided by saturated fat. People were advised to reduce fat intake to 30% of total energy and a fall in saturated fat intake to 10%
However, recent studies have failed to show a link between saturated fat intake and risk of cardiovascular disease. In fact, saturated fat has actually been found to be protective.
One of the earliest obesity experiments, published in the Lancet in 1956, comparing groups on diets of 90% fat versus 90% protein versus 90% carbohydrate revealed the greatest weight loss was among those eating the most fat.
Recently, the Swedish Council on Health Technology assessment admitted that a high fat diet improves blood sugar levels, reduces triglycerides, improves ‘good’ cholesterol – all signs of insulin resistance, the underlying cause of diabetes and has nothing but beneficial effects, including assisting in weight loss.
Fat Composition of 100 gm butter:
> 81 gms of fat
– 51 gms saturated
– 21 gms monounsaturated
– 3 gms polyunsaturated
> 19 gms of water.
Saturated and monounsaturated fats are good to have in high amounts while polyunsaturated fats, even though essential, should be kept to a minimal amount of about 4% of our caloric intake.
15 Health Benefits of Butter:
When we combine healthy saturated fats with our food, we are able to provide our bodies nutrient dense food that nourishes cells and also help us feeling fuller for longer. Healthy fats slow down carbohydrates from moving through your body quickly thus helping in a slow burn of energy as opposed to a fast burn that you would receive from an empty meal devoid of nutrients which will make you hungry sooner. Healthy fats also help in repairing any damage of the gut that has been caused from eating a diet high in processed foods full of sugar and gluten. By eating nutrient dense foods we are fueling our body with what it is truly craving which will help aid in weight loss.
1. Aids in Healthy Lung Functioning
The air spaces of the lungs have to be coated with a thin layer of lung surfactant for proper functioning. The fat content of lung surfactant is 100% saturated fatty acids. Replacement of these critical fats by other types of fat makes for a faulty surfactant and potentially causes breathing difficulties. Absence of the correct amount and composition of this material leads to collapse of the air spaces and respiratory distress. This is what’s missing in the lungs of premature infants who develop the breathing disorder called Infant respiratory distress syndrome.
2. Essential for a Healthy brain
The Brain is mainly made of fat and cholesterol. Though many people are familiar with the importance of the highly unsaturated essential fatty acids found in cold-water fish (EPA and DHA) for normal brain and nerve function, a big share of the fatty acids in the brain are actually saturated. A diet that is low on healthy saturated fats robs your brain of the raw materials it needs to function optimally.
3. Promotes Proper Nerve Signalling
Saturated fats, like those found in butter function directly as signalling messengers that influence the metabolism, including critical jobs like the appropriate release of insulin. Without the correct signals to tell the organs and glands what to do, the job doesn’t get done or gets done improperly.
4. Good source of Vitamin A
-Vitamin A is the most abundant fat soluble vitamin present in butter. It is essential for proper protein metabolism, a strong immune system, good thyroid function, good vision, bone metabolism and skin health.
-It’s also a powerful antioxidant.
-Vitamin A also works in synergy with vitamin D to help in bone and calcium transportation.
-It works with vitamin K2 to properly deposit calcium in bones and teeth and provide proper bone mineralization.
-Butter has Vitamin A almost comparable to that of Kale.
5. Good source of Vitamin F
Vitamin F is the recipial hormone to vitamin D. They work together, without vitamin F, sunburn would be hard to get rid of, and butter offers protects against sun rays and radiation.
6. Good source of Vitamin K2
-Vitamin K2 found in saturated fats works to activate certain proteins that vitamin A and D produce. These activated proteins have the ability to bind calcium and phosphorus for proper deposition in bones and teeth.
-It also prevents calcium from being deposited in arteries where it can cause heart disease and atherosclerosis.
-Vitamin K2 prevents Vitamin D toxicity (which could be a sign of Vitamin K2 deficiency than too much vitamin D)
-Vitamin K2 has been shown to reduce the amount of acidophilus bacteria in our mouth which causes tooth decay.
-Vitamin K2 improves brain function and is essential for the reproductive system.
-Vitamin K2 deficiency also causes kidney stones, as the vitamin has the ability to prevent calcium oxalate crystals from forming, which is the main cause of kidney stones.
7. Butter is Rich in Minerals
-Iodine is a mineral that is really important for proper thyroid functioning and most people today have very low levels of iodine. Butter is a good source of iodine, in a highly absorbable form.
-Butter consumption prevents goitre in mountainous areas where seafood is not available.
-Selenium and vitamin E are two powerful antioxidants that are lacking in most people’s diet. Butter provides more selenium per gram than wheat germ or herring.
.Butter also contains trace minerals like manganese, chromium, zinc and copper.
8. Good Source of Lauric acid
-Saturated fats contain fatty acids such as lauric acid, myristic acid and caprylic acid, which are antifungal, antimicrobial and antiviral, and all contribute towards a stronger immune system.
-It a medium-chain fatty acid that has anti-microbial properties.
-It has anti-tumor and anti-cancer properties.
-It is good for weight loss and metabolism.
-The only other food it is present in is coconut oil and breast milk.
9. Contains CLA
-Has Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) which is a healthy trans-fat which has anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties.
-Many studies have attested to the fact that CLA hinders the growth of mammary, colon and skin cancers.
-Grass fed sources have 300-500% more CLA than the grain-fed animals.
-It also helps your body build muscle rather than store fat.
10. Good Source of Butyric acid
-Butter is rich in butyric acid which is a short-chain saturated fatty acid that is produced in the gut flora and used for energy by our colon.
-Butyric acid helps to keep up a healthy metabolism and controls blood lipids and insulin sensitivity.
-It has anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer and anti-stress properties.
11. Contains Glycospingolipids
These are a special category of fatty acids that protect against gastrointestinal infections, especially in the very young and the elderly. Children given reduced-fat milks have higher rates of diarrhoea than those who drink whole milk.
12. Necessary to Absorb Carotenoids
Powerful disease fighting antioxidants found in colourful vegetables or fat soluble vitamins like Vitamin A,D,E and K can only be absorbed with fat.
-The cholesterol present in butter is protective against heart disease and promotes healthy levels of sex hormones, which are essential for developing children and menopausal women.
-Dietary cholesterol has been shown again and again to raise the good cholesterol (HDL), not the bad one (LDL) and that a high HDL coupled with low serum triglycerides is much more indicative of a healthy cardiovascular system than low total cholesterol.
-Cholesterol is also needed to maintain intestinal health, for brain and nervous system development in the young.
14. Wulzen Factor
-This is a hormone-like substance that prevents arthritis and joint stiffness, ensuring that calcium in your body is put in your bones rather than your joints and other tissues.
-The Wulzen factor is present only in raw butter and cream; it is often destroyed by pasteurization.
-Calves fed pasteurized milk or skim milk develop joint stiffness and do not thrive.
-Protect hardening of the arteries, cataracts and calcification of the pineal gland.
15. Other Benefits
-Butter is easy to digest as it bypasses the liver and the gallbladder, unlike unsaturated fats like olive oil which is harder to digest.
-It causes no irritation to liver or the gall bladder during digestion.
-Omega-3 fatty acids are best absorbed into the body when taken with a saturated fat like butter.
-Butter contains lecithin, essential for cholesterol metabolism. Lecithin acts as an anti-dote to cholesterol.
-Arachidonic acid in butter is important for brain function, skin health and prostaglandin balance.
-Butter provides appreciable amounts of short and medium-chain fatty acids, which support immune function, boost metabolism and have anti-microbial properties.
How to Buy Butter?
It’s best to consume raw butter from grass-fed cows, preferably organic. Next is pasteurized butter from grass-fed cows, followed by regular pasteurized butter from supermarkets. (Pasteurization is known to destroy some nutrients). If butter is made from cow’s milk that have been given growth hormones, then you’re probably better off without it. Purchase locally and organically for best results.
Butter can be a great source of energy and provide important nutrients and compounds lacking in today’s diet. You can indulge in healthy doses of grass-fed, organic and hormone free butter. If you suffer from autoimmune diseases or gut problem, you can clarify the butter to turn it into ghee which will provide the same health benefits.