This post was originally published a year ago, and we’re reviving it because we love butter so much. <3 In all seriousness, in the spirit of slow food and slow living, and heart health (in the month of love!), we love talking about how important it is to include high-quality grass-fed butter in your diet, particularly after this staple got a bad rap for many years.
Is Butter Good For You?
I grew up as the “low-fat for your heart” era was taking hold in the practice and lexicon of conventional medical advice — and take hold it did. For three decades we thought skim-milk and shrink wrapped boneless, skinless chicken breasts were the answer to good health. When we dared allow ourselves a salad dressing or sauté, we chose corn or canola oil because we were told they were better for us. We eschewed meat bones and rich broth, chose only low or non-fat dairy items, and for heaven’s sake would never eat real butter! The tubs of fake, chemical -filled, artificially colored and flavored spreads were far superior — because they were low fat!
Remember Fabio? “In addition to a regular and ‘light’ spread, Unilever also uses the brand name to market a liquid butter substitute contained in a spray bottle. This product is an emulsion of vegetable oil in water formulated with a ‘hint’ of butter flavor (derived from buttermilk) and is marketed as having zero calories and zero fat content.” (sources 1 and 2)
Then, by way of a journey that included some frustrating health issues and a lot of what I call “unlearning”, we discovered — (drum roll) — Real Food! Our family’s diet has turned the USDA Food Pyramid upside down and to our immense enjoyment and good health we have reclaimed, among many other things…butter!
Here’s an excerpt from an article by Sally Fallon of the Weston Price Institute and Mary Enig, Ph.D. Nutritionist, that does a great job of explaining why we now embrace real butter from the milk of pastured, grass-fed cows as a significant part of our diet:
- Heart disease was rare in America at the turn of the century. Between 1920 and 1960, the incidence of heart disease rose precipitously to become America’s number one killer. During the same period, butter consumption plummeted from eighteen pounds per person per year to four. It doesn’t take a Ph.D. in statistics to conclude that butter is not a cause. Actually, butter contains many nutrients that protect us from heart disease. First among these is vitamin A which is needed for the health of the thyroid and adrenal glands, both of which play a role in maintaining the proper functioning of the heart and cardiovascular system. Abnormalities of the heart and larger blood vessels occur in babies born to vitamin A deficient mothers. Butter is America’s best and most easily absorbed source of vitamin A.
- Butter contains lecithin, a substance that assists in the proper assimilation and metabolism of cholesterol and other fat constituents.
- Butter also contains a number of anti-oxidants that protect against the kind of free radical damage that weakens the arteries. Vitamin A and vitamin E found in butter both play a strong anti-oxidant role. Butter is a very rich source of selenium, a vital anti-oxidant–containing more per gram than herring or wheat germ.
- Butter is also a good dietary source of cholesterol. Yes indeed, cholesterol is a potent anti-oxidant that is flooded into the blood when we take in too many harmful free-radicals–usually from damaged and rancid fats in margarine and highly processed vegetable oils. A Medical Research Council survey showed that men eating butter ran half the risk of developing heart disease as those using margarine.
Check out the entire article for references and much more about the wonderful health benefits of butter.
What is the Healthiest Butter?
So how can you make sure you get the real thing? I’m talking about the real GRASS-FED thing. Read the labels carefully. Just because there’s a pastoral scene illustrated on the package that says “natural” or “dairy raised” doesn’t mean it’s what you want. Look for the words “from pastured” or “grass-fed” cows to be sure. Cultured and clarified grass-fed varieties are also excellent choices that offer some subtle flavor variety.
Butter is only one of the Real Foods that have been rejected for decades and now deserve a place on our plates, but since today is all about hearts I hope you’ll do yours a favor and help yourself. Why not take a piece of warm, crunchy sourdough toast and slather it on nice and thick, letting it melt in your mouth and remind you of how Real Food is supposed to taste.
Now that is love!