Butter is Better for You
Why Butter Is Better
by Stephen Byrnes, ND, RNCP
And you thought butter was bad for you? Silly people!
One of the most healthy whole foods you can include in your diet is butter. "What?!" I can hear many of you saying, "Isn't butter bad for you? I thought margarine and spreads were better because they're low in saturated fat and cholesterol?" Be not deceived folks! Butter is truly better than margarine or other vegetable spreads. Despite unjustified warnings about saturated fat from well-meaning, but misinformed, nutritionists, the list of butter's benefits is impressive indeed:
Butter is a rich source of easily absorbed vitamin A, needed for a wide range of functions in the body, from maintaining good vision, to keeping the endocrine system in top shape. Butter also contains all the other fat-soluble vitamins (E, K, and D).
Butter is rich in trace minerals, especially selenium, a powerful antioxidant. Ounce for ounce, butter has more selenium per gram than either whole wheat or garlic. Butter also supplies iodine, needed by the thyroid gland (as well as vitamin A, also needed by the thyroid gland).
Butter has appreciable amounts of butyric acid, used by the colon as an energy source. This fatty acid is also a known anti-carcinogen. Lauric acid, a medium chain fatty acid, is a potent antimicrobial and antifungal substance. Butter also contains conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) which gives excellent protection against cancer. Range-fed cows produce especially high levels of CLA as opposed to "stall fed" cattle. It pays, then, to get your butter from a cow that has been fed properly. Butter also has small, but equal, amounts of omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, the so-called essential fatty acids.
These are a special category of fatty acids that protect against gastrointestinal infections, especially in the very young and the elderly. Children, therefore, should not drink skim or low fat milk. Those that do have higher rates of diarrhea than those that drink whole milk.
Despite all of the misinformation you may have heard, cholesterol is needed to maintain intestinal health, but is also needed for brain and nervous system development in the young. Again, this emphasizes the need for cholesterol-rich foods for children. Human breast milk is extremely high in saturated fat and cholesterol.
Standing in direct opposition to all of these healthful qualities stands margarine and assorted "vegetable oil spreads." While these may be cheaper, you'd never eat them again if you knew how they were made. All margarines are made from assorted vegetable oils that have been heated to extremely high temperatures. This insures that the oils will become rancid. After that, a nickel catalyst is added, along with hydrogen atoms, to solidify it. Nickel is a toxic heavy metal and amounts always remain in the finished product. Finally, deodorants and colorings are added to remove margarine's horrible smell (from the rancid oils) and unappetizing grey color.
And if that is not enough, in the solidification process, harmful trans-fatty acids are created which are carcinogenic and mutagenic. What would you rather have: a real food with an abundance of healthful qualities or a stick of carcinogenic, bleached, and deodorized slop? Some of you might be watching your weight and be rather hesitant to add butter into your diet. Have no fear. About 15% of the fatty acids in butter are of the short and medium chain variety which are NOT stored as fat in the body, but are used by the vital organs for energy. (Fats you should watch, though, are all vegetable oils and olive oil.)
When looking for good quality butter, raw and cultured is best. This might be hard to find, however. Organic butter is your next best thing, with store-bought butter being at the bottom. Remember what we've said about commercially-raised cows; its worth a few extra cents to get high quality butter for you and your family. A brand of butter available in many markets is Anchor, imported from New Zealand. In this country, all cattle are grass-fed, thus insuring a high nutrient content of their milk, butter, and meat.
© Copyright 2002 Robert Paterson.
Last update: 18/12/2002; 4:42:30 PM.