Back To Sanity, It's Safe To Butter Your Muffin...

                 Butter can provide several health benefits.

Free at last, Free at last, butter is finally free from food persecution. Mmmm fresh baked bread and butter, makes my mouth water just thinking about it. I know this is going to come as a surprise to most, but recently butter is now recommended to incorporate healthy fats, and oils into your diet. Butter is rich, in an easily-absorbed form of vitamin A. In addition, it contains antioxidants, which are beneficial to the body, and is a great source of vitamins D, K and E. Unfortunately somewhere around the 1960's someone started whispering that increased fat consumption meant you were likely to die from heart disease, and so America's decline in butter use began. Most of the whispering was coming from the vegetarian movement. Around that same time, it was scientifically shown that high cholesterol could be a contributor to heart disease, by increasing plaque on artery walls. That's when the big Margarine lobby rolled out it's misinformation campaign. With commercials of how bad, butter was for you. Through cute commercials on our black and white T.V.'s they convinced us to stop eating a natural food, and switch to eating a manufactured grease that was dyed yellow. Just as they did with the egg yolk cholesterol hysteria of the 80's and 90's. Companies came up with this idea, they would band together, create unsubstantiated false research to convince the American public that eating natural and healthy products, like butter and eggs, were bad for you, for their profit. Everyone from doctors, to personal trainers, to dietitians were convinced that butter, consisted of mostly saturated fat and was a significant source of cholesterol, and was bad for our health. I have to confess I was one of the guilty.

Thinking we had found the Holy Grail of fitness secrets. We all climbed on board, struck egg yolks and butter from our diets. Systematically we started consuming HUGE amounts of hydrogenated oils for about thirty years. By our own lack of common sense, boy did we all get bamboozled. Trans fat is made by adding hydrogen to vegetable oil through a process of super heating, called hydrogenation, which makes the oil less likely to spoil. Using trans fats in the manufacturing of foods helps foods stay fresh longer, have a longer shelf life and have a less greasy feel. Scientists aren't sure exactly why, but the addition of hydrogen to oil will increase your cholesterol more than any other type of fats or oil. It's thought that adding hydrogen to oil makes the oil more difficult to digest, and your body recognizes trans fats as saturated fats.

Did you know that France's annual consumption of butter, per person is about 19.4 pounds, while here in the "health conscious" United States, we only consume about 4.1 pounds. Not only that, the French also consume almost 29 pounds of cheese to our 11 pounds. We consume roughly the same amount of eggs each year as the French. Now what really is interesting is that France has a population of only about 60,000,000 people compared to our 300,000,000. Their instances of heart attack and stroke each year (per thousand) is about half of ours. Now recently, a Medical Research Council survey showed that men who eat butter ran half the risk of getting heart disease as those who ate margarine. Sally Fallon and Mary G. Enig, PhD's in lipid biochemistry, make the point that heart disease was rare in America at the turn of the century. Between 1920 and 1960, the incidence of heart disease rose to become America's number one killer. During the same period butter consumption plummeted from eighteen pounds per person per year to four. The notion that butter causes weight gain is a sad misconception. 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 super heated polyunsaturated oils as well as from refined carbohydrates.

Butter contains lecithin, a substance that assists in the proper assimilation and metabolism of cholesterol and other fat constituents. While the vitamin A and the anti-oxidants in butter like vitamin E, selenium and cholesterol, protect us against cancer as well as heart disease. Welcome to 2011, here's the real science. Dr. Ronald Krauss, one the world's leading lipid researchers, directly showed that while saturated fat from dairy can raise LDL, the increase is in large, fluffy, and benign LDL, not the small, dense, and atherogenic LDL that clogs your arteries. This actually decreases your risk of cardiovascular disease.

Dairy fat and red meat are virtually the only sources of this trans-palmitoleate fatty acid.Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian and colleagues at Harvard found that blood content of trans-palmitoleate was associated with, higher HDL cholesterol, lower serum triglycerides, lower C-reactive protein, lower fasting insulin, and lower calculated insulin resistance. People with the highest trans-palmitoleate levels had 1/3 the risk of developing diabetes over their three year study. In this study, most of the trans-palmitoleate came specifically from dairy fat. Now there is a clear difference between butter, and dairy from grass fed open pasture cows, and grain fed cows on concentrated animal feeding operations. Those animals are milked nearly year-round, given growth hormones and antibiotics, and live in their own waste. Most grass fed cows live on small farms naturally eat grass, get exercise, fresh air and sunshine, and are only milked based on their seasonal reproductive cycle. The quality of life and, therefore, quality of milk and dairy products is vastly different. The overwhelming majority of scientific indications are that real butter has a positive health impact. There are so many vitamins found in saturated animal fats which are integral to the strengthening of the immune system and the warding off of many diseases including cancer. Some studies have shown that butter can have a positive effect on arthritis, can also lessen the risk of osteoporosis, reduce problems with the thyroid glands, and can promote good gastrointestinal health. There are a great many benefits to eating natural butters and upon closer inspection many of the supposed drawbacks are simply unprovable or outright untrue.

Some Types of Butter:

1. Cultured Butter: is made from cream in which fermentation, has begun to take place. Most butters today are made from cream that's undergone pasteurization, which kills naturally occurring bacteria, so, for this style, lactic-acid bacteria are added to induce fermentation and create a sharper, cultured taste. Cultured butter is the preferred style in most of continental Europe.

2. Salted Butter: a holdover from the days when salt was added to butter to forestall spoilage, can come in both cultured and uncultured versions. Salted butters, made with sea salt or fleur de sel, should be your choice in this category.
3. Pungent-tasting preserved butters: Smen, (quit giggling) a Moroccan delicacy, belong to a variety known as fermented butter; they have been allowed to age for anywhere from two weeks to two years and are often seasoned with herbs and spices.

4. Raw-Cream Butters: Are among the most prized but hardest-to-find butter varieties in this country, they are made from farm-fresh, unpasteurized cream, hard to find unless you live on on near a dairy farm.

5. Clarified Butter: is butter that's been heated so that its water content evaporates and has had its milk solids, protein and lactose removed is referred to as clarified butter. This pure, long-lasting butterfat, popular in India where it is called Ghee, has a high smoke point and serves as a versatile cooking medium, ideal for frying and sautéing.

6. Uncultured Butter: is made from fresh, pasteurized cream is generally referred to as sweet cream butter, which was named after the advent of refrigeration to distinguish it from butter made with soured cream. It's the most common style in North America. Characterized by a smooth, neutral flavor. Unsalted sweet cream butter is a common choice for baking.

7. Whipped Butter: In the mid-20th century, Americans predilection for chilled yet spreadable butter led to the development of whipped butter, which has nitrogen gas whipped into it after it has been churned, so that it will remain soft at low temperatures. Its low density relative to regular butter makes it a poor choice for cooking.

Now don't get silly with the butter, just because you know it's not an automatic death sentence. It is still a calorie dense food. Eat more calories then you burn and you gain weight.
  • 20 calories in 1 small pat (square) of salted/unsalted butter 
  • 33-34 calories in 1 teaspoon of butter salted/unsalted
  • 101 calories in 1 tablespoon of salted/unsalted butter
Now remember with conventional butter, because animals concentrate toxins in their fat, that means you are still eating those added hormones, anti-biotics, and toxins. If the cow was fed healthy green grass like it was supposed to, the butter is loaded with nutrients. It contains:
  • CLA (conjugated linoleic acid)- a fatty acid primarily found in beef and dairy products, which is linked to heart health, effective weight management, cancer suppression.
  • Vitamin K2 – refered to as Activator X, which promotes healthy bones and teeth, a properly functioning nervous system, and robust cardiovascular health.
  • Vitamins and minerals – grass fed butter is bright yellow, unlike grain fed butter which is pale and white. Generally the more colourful a food, the more nutrients it contains.
  • A super Omega 3 to 6 ratio – keeping your Omega 3 to 6 ratios in line is important for reducing inflammation. 

So at the very least, you want to be eating organic butter. Just eating organic isn't going to cut it if you want to eat butter for its maximum health benefits. If that is the case, you need to get grass fed. In other words, if you just want to eat butter because it's healthier and tastes great, then organic is okay. If you want something that tastes great AND is super healthy and nutritious, you need to find grass fed butter. Trader Joe's, has an awesome brand of grass fed butter available there called Kerry Gold. I do suggest that you to RUN not walk away from any products containing hydrogenated, partially hydrogenated oils, canola oil, soy, trans fats or phoney butters like margarine. Throw away that hydrogenated chemical cesspool called margarine in the trash, and go get yourself real organic grass fed butter. Good Luck...

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