Phone: 03 8822 3723

Why Butter Is GOOD For Your Health & Even Helps Prevent Disease

Written by: Nick Jack
Category: 2014
on 04 November 2020
Hits: 2565

Heart disease is one of the leading causes of death, and for the past 60 years, saturated fat and cholesterol have been wrongfully vilified as the culprits. Right at the top of the list, as a food to avoid, was butter. If you are like me and enjoy some butter on a baked potato, toast, or corn cob, you were made to feel guilty for eating something so fattening. The media and the relentless advertising on TV tell us that margarine is much better for us, and butter is the enemy as it will make you fat and kill you! What you will find is that butter is a very healthy food for us to eat and it contains some rich sources of vitamins essential to the function of many of our vital organs for the prevention of disease. In this article, I will try to shed light on many interesting things about butter that you never knew and allow you to enjoy eating this again without the guilt it is doing you harm.

Butter is a Great Source of Vitamin A

 

One thing people do not realize about butter is that it is very rich source of Vitamin A. This 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. Vitamin A is important for maintaining normal vision, the immune system, reproduction, and helps the heart, lungs, kidneys, and other organs work properly.

If that is the case why is not promoted as such? And why is margarine always promoted as a healthier option?

The strength of advertising campaigns for margarine lies in the fact that they are undertaken not only by margarine producers, but also by independent bodies such as local Governments and institutes who still believe that low-fat foods are good for you. Many people still believe that cutting calories with restrictive eating and low-fat foods is the best way to get healthy. These marketing campaigns use fear-mongering campaigns to the community to choose margarine over butter citing high cholesterol levels and obesity as the major risk factors associated with a high-fat diet like the Keto diet.

When you think about it what this has done is told us to eat over-processed foods manufactured in laboratories instead of "real foods" grown in fields. Nutritionist Joan Gussow makes a great statement,

“As for butter vs margarine, I trust cows more than chemists.”

Fortunately, the truth is finally starting to be revealed and many people are starting to recognize that it is not butter that is the problem, instead, it is processed foods and especially TRANS FATS made from vegetable oils and sugar in our diet that is!

Butter & the French Paradox

Apart from the health benefits of butter, it also tastes much better, and you will be lucky to find any chef that ever uses margarine in their cooking. And you definitely will not find a French person who endorses margarine over butter as that is almost like committing treason to the French people!

 

Between 1920 and 1960, Western world countries like Australia and American saw butter consumption decline by over 75 percent, yet at the same time we saw heart disease climb from a relatively unknown condition to become the number one killer. While there are many other factors to consider apart from just butter, this does show that when people were eating more natural foods they were much healthier.

Once the consumption of processed foods and especially trans-fat foods radically increased in the mid-1950s and continues to today, the rates of sudden death from heart disease have steadily increased and remained that way. And the one country that has gone against this trend is France where butter is looked upon as a national treasure and margarine the villain.

You would assume that France would be loaded with many fat people but it is not the case. This has been labeled as the French paradox, a phrase that describes the apparent mismatch between the French diet and their national health statistics.

Consider this: Australia has 24.6% obesity versus just 11% in France according to the latest study by the OECD. And yet the French cook everything in butter and eat butter with almost every food!

But it is not just France that we see this same trend. Take a look at the graph below from the British Journal of Nutrition in 2012 that shows how other European countries that eat the least saturated fats, have the lowest risk of heart disease.

Where Did The Saturated Fat Myth Come From?

Procter and Gamble are one of the first who is attributed to the confusion who started marketing Crisco as a new kind of food -- the first commercially marketed trans-fat. Crisco was originally used to make candles and soap, but electrification causing a decline in candle sales, and the temptation to sell their product as a food source was too great.

At the time butter and lard were the preferred cooking choices and had been used for generations to generate more sales it was marketed as a healthier alternative to animal fats and more economical than butter. Within a short time of Procter and Gamble decided to promote their product as a “healthier” all-vegetable-derived food had the sales of margarine increased from 1.2 million kgs in 1908 to 27.2 million kgs in 1912!

But the real killer of saturated fat began in 1953, when Dr. Ancel Keys published a paper comparing saturated fat intake and heart disease mortality. His theory turned out to have many holes in it, but the bad rap of saturated fat has continued ever since. Keys based his theory on a study of only seven countries, in which higher saturated fat intake equated to higher rates of heart disease.

However, he conveniently ignored data from 16 other countries that did not fit his theory. Had he chosen a different set of countries, the data would have shown that increasing the percent of calories from fat reduces the number of deaths from coronary heart disease. When you include all 22 countries for which data was available at the time of his study, you find that those who consume the highest percentage of saturated fat have the lowest risk of heart disease.

And if you do not believe any of this you should read the book "Nutrition & Physical Degeneration" by Weston A Price that provides conclusive proof of people who were living predominately on saturated fats, yet having no trace of Heart Disease, Cancer, Diabetes, or any type of chronic disease that is so prevalent in today’s society. If you want to "really know" about Nutrition this should be the very first book you ever read. Click here to see the online version.

When Dr Weston Price studied native diets in the 1930’s he found that butter was a staple in the diets of many supremely healthy peoples. Isolated Swiss villagers placed a bowl of butter on their church altars, set a wick in it, and let it burn throughout the year as a sign of divinity in the butter. Arab groups also put a high value on butter, especially deep yellow-orange butter from livestock feeding on green grass in the spring and autumn. American wisdom recognized that children raised on butter were robust and sturdy; but that children given skim milk during their growing years were pale and thin, with “pinched” faces.

But the question remains does butter cause disease? As you would expect it is the opposite. Butter actually protects us against many diseases.

Butter & Heart Disease

Heart disease was rare in many countries 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. You do not need to be a rocket scientist to conclude that butter is not a cause.

As we discussed earlier butter contains many nutrients that protect us from heart disease. Abnormalities of the heart and larger blood vessels occur in babies born to vitamin A deficient mothers.

"Butter is one of the best and most easily absorbed sources of vitamin A"

Butter contains lecithin, a substance that assists in the proper assimilation and metabolism of cholesterol and other fat constituents. It also contains several antioxidants that protect against the kind of free radical damage that weakens the arteries. Vitamin A and vitamin E found in butter both play a strong anti-oxidant role.

Butter is also a good dietary source of cholesterol! Hang on a minute, isn't cholesterol supposed to be bad for us? Just like the eggs myth which I covered in an article earlier this year - The truth about EGGS you do not get bad cholesterol from eating it!

Cholesterol is something that is very misunderstood and is something we need to be healthy. If you are a bit confused about cholesterol I suggest to go and read this article as it explains the role of this very clearly for you - Understanding Cholesterol and Why We Need It to Be Healthy

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. A Medical Research Council survey showed that men eating butter ran half the risk of developing heart disease as those using margarine.

Butter & Cancer

As I write this article my dad has recently undergone intensive surgery for mouth cancer where he had half of his jaw and face cut out! I only just picked him up from the hospital 3 days ago and now he has a long road ahead trying to get his health back. One of the things that are very difficult for him to do right now is eating, for he has no teeth and half his face is numb. This means he needs to eat foods that are pureed like soups. He needs to eat a good variety of foods to get the necessary vitamins and minerals his body needs more than ever as it tries to fight infections and repair the damage from his surgery.

The foods he must avoid at this point is SUGAR and trans-fats.

Both of these foods have been proven endless times over to create cancer and stimulate pre-cancerous cells into a frenzy that enables them to multiply fast. Only a few weeks ago we wrote a detailed article about exactly this problem - Why Cancer Prevention Is Needed Now More Than Ever

This is where I nearly fall off my chair when the dietician at the hospital gave him his list of foods to eat. On this list included chocolate mousse, sugar, maple syrup, custard, jelly, and of course margarine. She specifically told him NOT to eat butter! His diet was the worst at the best of times and he rarely ate vegetables and hates soups and broths, so now he is eating endless amounts of jelly and custard instead of healthier options because the dietician said it was alright!

Even in our medical system we still have people who think that margarine is a better choice! Anyway, getting back to the topic of butter's link to cancer.

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. Butter also contains conjugated linoleic acid which gives excellent protection against cancer. Vitamin A and the anti-oxidants in butter–vitamin E, selenium, and cholesterol–protect against cancer as well as heart disease.

Butter & How It Can Help the Immune System

This year I went into great detail about everything to do with the immune system as a result of the community's fear about Covid-19. I wanted to ensure that you (my readers) were educated about the things that do influence this as there is so much false information and misleading facts surrounding foods.

In my detailed article about the immune system this quote really stood out to me that summed up the value of eating quality food. Remember butter is a real food, margarine is a processed food made in a lab.

You can read the detailed article I did back in March if you missed it - 8 Ways to Boost Your Immune System

Vitamin A found in butter is essential to a healthy immune system; short and medium chain fatty acids also have immune system strengthening properties. But hydrogenated fats and an excess of long chain fatty acids found in polyunsaturated oils and many butter substitutes both have a negative effect on the immune system.

Butter & Strong Bones

Vitamins A and D in butter are essential to the proper absorption of calcium and hence necessary for strong bones and teeth. Recently we discussed the damage of poor nutrition with relation to arthritis and osteoporosis in older adults that causes the horrible dowagers hump posture. This outward curvature of the upper back and compression of the front sections of the vertebrae causes a person to lean forward, slouching their shoulders and rounding their back, which in turn, creates a permanent hump on the upper back.

You can see a detailed video about this below.

Decreased bone density occurs when bones lose minerals such as calcium faster than the body can replace them. The decrease in bone mineral density (BMD) and changes in bone quality makes bones more fragile and more easily broken than bones of 'normal' density. Low bone density is known as osteopenia and is the range of bone density between normal bones and osteoporosis. Poor bone density leaves an older adult vulnerable to hip fractures.

A hip fracture can be a life-threatening injury to an older adult and while we know that strength training can help to maintain good bone strength, the exercise program has little chance of succeeding they do not have enough calcium in their diet. People aged 50 and over should aim to get 1200 mg of calcium per day and butter is one food that can help with this.

The rapid rise of low-fat foods in the western world over the past 40 years is undoubtedly playing a big part in this as many people still believe low-fat skim milk is good for them. Butter also has anti-cariogenic effects that protect against tooth decay.

Butter & Gut Health

Once again the role of food in maintaining the health of our immune system is massive. And the health of our gut is paramount as the digestive system contains over 70% of our immunity as seen in the pictures below provided by Precision Nutrition.

Butterfat contains glycosphingolipids, a special category of fatty acids that protect against gastro-intestinal infection, especially in the very young and the elderly. For this reason, children who drink skim milk have diarrhea at rates 3-5 times greater than children who drink whole milk. Cholesterol in butterfat promotes the health of the intestinal wall and protects against cancer of the colon. Short and medium-chain fatty acids protect against pathogens and have strong anti-fungal effects.

Does Butter Make You Fat?

Let's clear up one thing for you right now.

"You don't get fat by eating fat"

The notion that butter causes weight gain is a complete myth. Once again this is where people only look at the calories of the food and not how it interacts with the body and how it can influence metabolism and blood sugars.

The short and medium chain fatty acids in butter are not stored in the adipose tissue, but are used for quick energy. Fat tissue in humans is composed mainly of longer chain fatty acids. These come from olive oil and polyunsaturated oils as well as from refined carbohydrates. Because butter is rich in nutrients, it confers a feeling of satisfaction when consumed helping you to avoid over-eating and also reaching for sugar-laden foods. Eating sugar is the fastest way to gain weight and also develop diseases like Type 2 Diabetes. Watch the video below that shows you 6 ways to prevent diabetes and also reduce belly fat.

Like any food, if you over consume it you will get fat. The best thing about high fat foods like butter is that it is very difficult to over-eat them, as they are so rich and fill you up fast. This is one reason why the Keto diet works so well for it is comprised of 70% fat!

This type of eating forces the body to burn fats for its fuel rather than carbohydrates. Normally, the carbohydrates contained in food are converted into glucose to give us energy for movement. Unfortunately, people tend to eat far too many carbohydrates and end up with more fuel than they require and a huge amount of sugar in their blood.

The keto diet starves the body of these carbohydrates and makes your body more fat dependant and less carbohydrate dependant on its fuel source.

Most people put on weight from eating too much sugar and carbohydrates. These foods are very easily over-eaten and contain way too much energy for your body to use so the excess is stored as belly fat.

This type of eating is not for everyone as some people may struggle to digest this much fat as their digestive system may require more fibre from grain-like foods. However, one thing is for sure we all could do with less sugar in our diet.

Do You Know Your Fats?

You can divide fats into four types:

  • Saturated fats, from animal fat and tropical oils
  • Monounsaturated fat, such as olive oil
  • Polyunsaturated fat, such as omega-3 and omega-6 fats
  • Trans fats, such as margarine, mayonnaise, salad dressings etc.

The healthy fats are foods like olives and olive oil, coconuts and coconut oil, butter, nuts such as almonds or pecans, avocados, grass-fed meats.

The bad fats are foods cooked in or containing corn oil, soy oil, canola oil, safflower oil sunflower oil. These are the fats you need to avoid. These are often processed foods like margarine, potato chips, and many of the take-away fast foods of hamburgers and fries.

Great Resources to Help You Improve Your Health

There is a lot of other things you will need to do to improve your overall health and this article has only looked at one piece of the puzzle. For more help putting together a complete plan, I do suggest grabbing a copy of our special reports shown below for improving heart health and nutrition. Click on the image below of the report you require.

    

Summary

I hope you have enjoyed this article that once again looks at something quite controversial. It is amazing how many of the most nutritious foods have been demonized over the years like eggs and butter as we have been led to believe that processed rubbish and low-fat foods are good for us. Low-fat foods often have high levels of sugar in them making them more likely to make you fat and unhealthy. If they worked we would not see so many people overweight as we do.

The scary part is that many people still believe this, even the so-called experts like the dietician at the hospital with my dad! If in doubt as to whether a food is good for you or not ask yourself this question - "Is this a real food or something made in a lab?" If it is made in a lab you can safely assume it is not good for you.

For more ideas and information on specific topics I may not have covered in detail be sure to check out our INDEX PAGE on the website that has over 200 of our best articles. These are all sorted into categories for quick reference so you can find what you are after more easily.

If you do need specific help with setting up an exercise and nutrition program please feel free to reach out to me for help by clicking the image below and we can set you up a free consultation to discuss how to get you started.

About The Author

Nick Jack is owner of No Regrets Personal Training and has over 15 years’ experience as a qualified Personal Trainer, Level 2 Rehabilitation trainer, CHEK practitioner, and Level 2 Sports conditioning Coach. Based in Melbourne Australia he specialises in providing solutions to injury and health problems for people of all ages using the latest methods of assessing movement and corrective exercise.

References:

  • Weston A Price Foundation
  • Baker Heart & Diabetes Institute 
  • Movement - By Gray Cook
  • Functional Training for Sports - By Mike Boyle
  • Corrective Exercise Solutions - by Evan Osar
  • How To Eat, Move & Be Healthy by Paul Chek
  • Precision Nutrition 
  • Nutrition & Physical Degeneration - By Weston A Price
  • Big Fat Lies - By David Gillespie
  • Eat Real Food - By David Gillespie