That is right! If you have ever watched Julie and Julia (The movie about Julia Child) or talked to my Grandpa Lloyd, they both would agree that adding butter to your diet truly makes EVERYTHING taste better. When everyone was eating margarine because it was supposedly “healthier” for you, Grandpa Lloyd insisted that he was not going to eat that fake stuff. At the time I thought Grandpa was crazy and his rebellion would lead to an early death, but little did I know that he was right all along.
You may be thinking to yourself, what..a nutritional consultant is recommending to eat butter? Or you may even be thinking, I heard that butter is a saturated fat and is bad for your heart. The misconceptions about the health consequences of the consumption of butter just do not seem to stack up.
It has been around a LONG time
There is evidence that humans have been consuming butter for about 10,000 years. That is an extremely long time. In the last 60 years, butter has become demonized. An interesting fact is that between 1920 and 1960 when heart disease rates were significantly increasing, butter consumption plummeted from 18 pounds per person per year to 4 pounds. At the same time that butter and saturated fat consumption was decreasing, polyunsaturated fats were increasing in the American diet. Here is a link to some videos that further explain why saturated fat is not the villain that we make it out to be.
What does make butter better?
Butter is a saturated fat that is composed of short and medium chain fatty acids. Your body can turn many of these fatty acids into instant energy. Butter also contains high amounts of vitamin A, D and E if the cows that produce the cream are pasture/grass fed. The Chart below gives a breakdown of the higher about amounts of vitamins that are found in pastured/grass fed butter vs. conventional butter.
Below is a picture that shows the the difference in the color of butter from a pastured (grass fed) vs. a conventional (grain fed) cow. The pastured butter will always be much yellower in color because of the nutrient density. Pastured butter will also contain a nutrient called conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), which can help the body burn fat and protect against cancer.
Pastured Butter (grass fed) vs. Conventional Butter (grain fed)
Where you get it matters
Just like any other food product, where you get your butter matters. Most larger grocery store chains will carry both pastured/grass fed butter and organic butter. Please remember that toxins are stored in the fat of an animal, so if you are consuming conventional butter from a cow that been exposed to hormones and/or chemicals, you will likely be ingesting them yourself.
Pastured/grass fed butter is more expensive due to the quality of the milk. A local grass fed butter for Wisconsinites is called Pasture Butter from Organic Valley or Pastureland from Minnesota: you can pick this kind of butter up at many stores in the Madison area. I personally enjoy KerryGold Irish butter found at Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods and Woodman’s. If I am using a lot of butter in a recipe, I will sometimes choose an organic brand (cows fed organic grains and not treated with hormones) to save on cost. Most grocery stores will have a different selection of organic butter brands. I often stock up on organic butter from Costco that has a great price point, if you are using large amounts.
Put that tub back
Many people think that eating vegetable oil-based spreads and margarine are better. I urge you to read the ingredient label the next time you pick up a tub of spread. You might be surprised by what you find. Remember the 2 rules to follow when you are deciding if a product is healthy for you:
1. Do you know what all the ingredients are?
2. Did your great grandma eat it as a child?
Great grandma was eating BUTTER, not vegetable oil spreads, just like humans have been doing for 10,000 years. If you have sensitivities to dairy, choose a clarified butter called ghee which may be a better choice for you.
Another reason why consumers choose tub spreads is because they want a fresh food item that is easy to spread. Well, hundreds of years ago the French came up with the perfect solution called the Butter Bell. Click here to find out more about one of my FAVORITE kitchen gadgets.
Grandpa Lloyd loves butter
Lastly, I wanted to share a picture of Grandpa Lloyd who is 84 years old and is enjoying life on his boogie board in Mexico. He would love the fact that I admit that he was right all along…eating butter is better!