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As you begin reading this, you’re potentially in one of two camps:
1. You are freaked out that the word “wellness” and “butter” are showing up in the same line without any negating prefixes. You think I’m potentially nuts or just uninformed, and you enjoy margarine from time-to-time, or you simply stick to plant-based fats.
2. You are already on board with the whole butter being good for you thing. Been here, done this. You’re wondering why you’re reading this instead of eating butter.
Okay, so that’s a bit of generalization. But with this I mean to make the point that people tend to feel pretty strongly about butter one way or the other.
This post is for those of you who are perhaps somewhere between these two camps. Or maybe you’re in a third camp I didn’t mention. Or you could even be settled quite firmly in one of these camps, but you’ve come to join me anyway. Well, thanks for being here! And read on, because this is where it gets good . . .
From a long-time staple in the diet to a murderer and back again, butter has been both friend and foe to our species at different points in history. I’m here today to clear butter’s rep, but before I get into the many benefits of this wholesome food, let’s explore a little more about where we’ve been with butter . . .
A Little History
Somewhere between 1920 and 1960, the incidence of heart disease rose to become America’s #1 killer. Interestingly, during this time, butter consumption was at an all-time low — it dropped from roughly 18 pounds per person annually to a mere 4 pounds (source).
At this same time, especially around the 1970s, saturated fat and cholesterol were made the villains in our diet. And so began our nation’s obsession with all things low-fat, fat-free, and processed (aka fake). We began replacing real food provided to us by nature that had been trusted by ancient cultures as nourishing & healing (i.e., butter) with replacements made of chemicals and disguised as health foods. Margarine? Oh dear, don’t get me started. (Wellness Mama has a wonderful article on Why You Should Never Eat Margarine). The facade of the low-fat movement lasted for a couple of decades at least before the mainstream really caught on to its lies.
Hold on a second, isn’t eating real, full fats that our bodies know how to absorb a bit better for us than putting things in our body that are unfamiliar and made of chemicals?
Wait . . . our brains are essentially coated in fat, right? Don’t we . . . need . . . fat?
Thankfully, things are starting to change for our dear friend butter. People like me, who once relied on I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter (really, I can’t believe why it exists) and 1 calorie spray “butter” are now embracing full-fat pastured butter with joy and ease.
So who’s the real villain?
Sugar and processed foods are really to blame for many of our biggest health issues. From heart disease to obesity and even cancer, our culture’s excessive consumption of sugary goodness and packaged products has made these illnesses skyrocket.
Cardiologist Aseem Malhotra, who recently issued a call in the British Medical Journal to “bust the myth of saturated fat’s role in heart disease,” notes that in the last 30 years the rate of obesity in the United States has skyrocketed, even though the percentage of calories we are consuming from fat has declined by 10% (source).
Note: The butter I’m talking about here is real, pastured butter. The best source of this would be from your own livestock who’ve grazed on grass as much as possible. If you must purchase butter, check out your local co-op or farmers market, or visit the farmer herself, and find the most grass-lovin’ butter you can get. A couple of good store-bought brands are Organic Valley (in the green wrapper) & Kerrygold.
Butter provides a quick source of energy that is wholesome with no negative side effects.
Most people that know anything about health are aware that inflammation is a big culprit when it come to many forms of illness. In fact, remember when saturated fats (ahem, butter) were considered the biggest contributor to heart disease? Well, actually, it’s inflammation that is believed to be a leading driver of heart disease.
Luckily, a nutrient found in butter – butyrate, or butyric acid - is known for its inflammation-fighting abilities.
We’ve all heard that vitamin D is pretty special. Butter is one of the few sources of food that gives our bodies this essential vitamin that is also necessary in order for us to absorb calcium.
As if butter isn’t amazing enough, it contains antioxidants that actually protect against weakening arteries. Remember when butter was bad for our arteries? Yeah . . .
Selenium is a vital mineral that the body cannot produce on its own. Butter happens to be rich in this mineral that is known for fighting free radicals, boosting the immune system, protecting against some forms of cancer, and protecting from heart disease. More info on selenium.
Butter is known to be our best and most easily absorbed form of this vitamin that promotes healthy immune function, vision, reproduction, heart, kidney, lungs, and other organs.
There are many more benefits to butter, but I’ve chosen to highlight just these few here.
What do you love about butter?
Do you have any favorite recipes that incorporate this health food?
Share in the comments below!