Updated: May 28, 2018
This is a subject near and dear to my heart. I have been a fan of the gold stuff since I was young. I remember being pint sized, and stealing small bites of butter from the counter when my mom wasn’t looking. I also remember getting sick from eating said liquid gold in one sitting in my preschool days.
Even though I have a love/hate relationship with butter (milk solids not so good for me), the scales are tipping. Butter is one of those foods that goes with so much and has an amazing nutrient profile if you take the time to look. It is present on many dinner tables across the world, and used for baking, cooking, dipping and so many kitchen activities. It is even likely that you will find a sculpture of it at a local county fair.
I thought I would share a little about butter, since it is one of those controversial foods that we often don’t think much about.
Real butter is comprised of three ingredients: milk solids, water and milk fat. USDA regulations state that butter must contain a minimum of 80% milk fat to be considered ‘real butter’. The milk solids contain casein, lactose and minerals which can produce gastrointestinal upset for those sensitive to milk proteins and sugars. Store bought butter is typically divided into two categories, salted and sweet cream (unsalted). When evaluating color, fresh butter can range from a pale yellow to a rich golden yellow. The true color of butter is a result of the diet of the cows. Color is often added during the production process when the cattle are not fed a grass fed diet. The most common coloring additives are carotene and annatto, both pigments from plants.
Butter is comprised primarily of saturated fat, but also has monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. The saturated fat content is what has driven a lot of the rumors that butter is ‘bad’. Don’t we all remember the Time magazine cover bashing cholesterol? Butter has some good things going for it too though, like a higher vitamin A and K2 content, and butyric acid. Butyric acid is a short-chain fatty acid that feeds the gut microbiota and also provides direct energy to the colon. If the butter is from grass fed cows, it will also contain conjugated linoleic acid (CLA). CLA has been studied for its anti-cancer effects and the possibility of promoting a health body fat mass. Most recently, a study has been released by the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology about the possible atheroprotective effects of CLA on atherosclerosis (hardening of arteries associated with strokes and heart attacks).
So what does this all mean? Moderation.
Everything is good in moderation, even moderation.
If you decide to include butter as a part of your regular diet, find one from grass fed cows for better nutrient content. Avoid ‘low fat’ and butter like products, which often contain chemicals and other oils, and let’s face it, are not real whole foods. Whole foods are good foods. My butter of choice is Kerrygold. I go through one brick every 10 days, since I use it for cooking, in the occasional morning coffee, and as a condiment for veggies and meat. If you have known dairy allergies, butter, of course should be avoided. If you find that you just have a food sensitivity and you want to test the waters, consider starting with Ghee or clarified butter in which most of the milk solids and water have been removed.
The results are in, butter is good for you...again. But talk to your doctor about how you can add it to your nutrition plan (note: no diets advertised on this blog) so that you can make the right decision when it comes to fueling your body.
Murray M, Pizzorno J and Pizzorno L. “The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods” Atria Books, New York. pp 92-93, 572.
“The Many Virtues of Butter” Accessed 4/13/2016 from: http://paleoleap.com/the-many-virtues-of-butter/
Bruen R, Fitzsimons S, Belton O. “Atheroprotective Effects of Conjugated Linoleic Acid” British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology. 2016 Apr 1. doi: 10.1111/bcp.12948.
This is not a sponsored post, and all opinions are my own. This information is not intended to be medical advice and if you do have a true anaphylaxis allergy to dairy, you should not consume butter or dairy products.