Butter has gotten a bad rap for many years, starting in the last century with the rise of margarine, which we now recognize as a deadly trans fat. More recently, butter has been shunned in favor of olive oil and canola oil. But here’s why we should reserve a place at the table for good old-fashioned butter.
By Dr. Mercola
Long vilified butter is making a comeback. Butter consumption in the US has reached its 40-year peak, according to new data from the dairy industry. The butter boom, at least in part, has been attributed to a shift in consumer preferences away from processed foods and back toward natural foods.
It has also helped that USDA began the process of banning trans fats from the American food supply last fall.
During the past decade, Americans have increased their butter intake by 25 percent—but it's really taken off over the past five years. Butter consumption has now reached 5.6 pounds per capita, compared to 4.1 pounds in 1997. While butter hit its 40-year high, margarine fell to its 70-year low.
Even Unilever Foods (maker of Country Crock margarine) just added real butter to Rama, their most popular spread in Germany, in order to rescue dwindling sales.
After decades of believing the myth that butter clogs arteries and causes heart attacks, people are now beginning to realize that partially hydrogenated vegetable oils, margarine, and shortening.
So-called “heart healthy spreads,” are the culprits—not wholesome saturated fats like butter. The now discredited “lipid hypothesis” is thankfully going the way of bloodletting and lobotomies. It's time to bury the myth that butter is bad for you—for good.
Disease Rates Through the Roof Since the Era of Butter Bashing
The evidence is incontrovertible: When you cut out or radically decrease the fat in your diet, you became fatter and sicker than your ancestors. Why? Because margarine and similar hydrogenated or processed polyunsaturated oils are far more detrimental to your health than saturated fat.
Besides these “fad oils,” sugar is another primary co-conspirator in the destruction of your cardiovascular health. Excess dietary sugar creates insulin and leptin resistance, which can lead to obesity and inflamed arteries—which both raise your risk for a heart attack.
A review from Cambridge University, just published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine, is the latest analysis to confirm the absolute lack of evidence that consuming saturated fat leads to heart disease. They also found no basis for guidelines that advise increased consumption of polyunsaturated fats to lower your cardiac risk, calling into question all of the standard nutritional guidelines related to heart health.
The low-fat and fat-free craze has been a damaging nutritional detour in the West, because removing the fat from foods opened the door for the addition of large quantities of refined sugar, sodium and other unhealthy chemicals in attempts to make processed foods taste good. Sugar, trans fats, and processed vegetable oils have created the perfect storm of disease for decades.
Authority Nutrition has assembled six graphs with side-by-side comparisons of obesity and heart disease trends with nutritional trends over time. These graphs make it to visualize how the “lipid hypothesis” has done you no favors whatsoever.
“Between 1920 and 1960, Americans' use of butter declined from 18 pounds per person per year to four pounds, yet heart disease went from a relatively unknown condition to the number one killer. So how likely is it that butter is killing us?” –GreenMedInfo
Beware of ‘Monsanto Butter'
Not all saturated fats are nutritionally equal, and butter is no exception. Just like other forms of dairy, butter's nutritional value depends on how the animals are raised. For example, the fatty acid composition of butterfat varies according to the animal's diet. The very best-quality butter is raw (unpasteurized) from grass-pastured cows, preferably certified organic. The next best is pasteurized butter from grass-fed cows, followed by regular pasteurized butter common in supermarkets. Even the latter two are a healthier choice than margarines or spreads.
Beware of “Monsanto Butter,” meaning butter that comes from cows fed almost entirely genetically engineered grains. This, unfortunately, makes up the majority of butters you typically see on grocery store shelves. Conventionally raised cows are typically fed GE corn and soy. However, some farmers fatten up their feed with additional sugar derived from GE sugar beets and cottonseed. According to Food Babe:
“Conventional dairy cow feed is sometimes fortified with additional protein, omega-3 fatty acids and CLA from GMO rapeseed (canola) because the cows are not getting these nutrients naturally from the grass. GMO alfalfa hay is also commonly fed to cows. So basically, conventionally raised cows are almost entirely getting their food from GMOs – food that was created in a laboratory, that hasn't been tested long term, but has produced horrific results in several alarming animal studies.”
Included on the list of “Monsanto Butters” are Land O'Lakes and Alta Dena. Land O' Lakes is not organic and raises its cows on antibiotics, growth hormones, and pesticide-loaded GE grain. Land O'Lakes also contributed nearly $100,000 to the “NO on I-522” lobby, the bill to label GMOs in Washington State, which is a clear statement of its position and priorities.
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