Is Butter The True Criminal or A Straw Man? How Unhealthy Is It?

Is Butter The True Criminal or A Straw Man? How Unhealthy Is It?
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There is a famous myth in cooking:it is dairy that is fattening and is therefore, bad for you. Cheese is, milk is, and , being essentially pure fat, most definitely is.

This is so accepted that margarine (made from vegetable oil and water) fills supermarkets world wide and is just as, if not more popular than butter. Its popularity comes from people avoiding butter for its high fat content.

But if this is an undisputed fact, then why am I writing an article?

Well, as you may imagine, the truth is more complicated.

Now, I’m not going to make the outlandish, and patently untrue claim that there isn’t fat in butter.

No, what I am going to claim, that fats by themselves, even unsaturated fat (as found in butter) are not totally bad for you.

A Myth Dispelled: Not All Fats Are Harmful

People are often quite scared of the word fat, and consider all forms of fat to be totally harmful. However, there is such a thing as healthy fat, monounsaturated fat and polyunsaturated fat have a range of health benefits.

Now, it is that saturated fats increase cholesterol [1]. If these fats are built up in the body, they can lead to serious health issues such as coronary heart disease. Because of this, it is strictly and severely inadvisable to eat too much butter as butter contain only saturated fat.But cutting it out entirely is unnecessary.

The Nutritional Component of Fat: Cholesterol

Whilst cholesterol in high levels can be severely harmful, however, in low levels it can aidimportant bodily functions [2] such as in the production of Vitamin D, helping cell health and functionality, and the development of bodily hormones.

Entering the blood carried on lipoproteins, cholesterol carried on high density lipoprotein has these beneficial effects, and can counteract the harmful effects of low density lipoprotein cholesterol.Basically there are two forms of cholesterol, one good, one bad [3].

Butter, which contains a lot of saturated fats, contains a quantity of both forms.The harm done by saturated fats, too has recently been called into question.

What is Saturated Fats?

This view that butter is not a purely harmful substance, as once thought comes from recent research [4] . This research from 2014 [5]even goes so far to cast doubt on the direct link between saturated fats and an increased risk of heart disease. This is the important part, it may mean that our stance on saturated fats, like the fats in butter, need re-evaluation.

It should be stated, of course, that just because something is not so clearly bad for you is not [6]the same thing as being good for you. So though it seems that saturated fats may not be as harmful as once feared, they should still be consumed in moderation.

It may even one day be discovered that not all saturated fat is harmful, this is a lot like how once it was thought that all cholesterol was harmful, but, again, now we know that some forms are actually beneficial.

How much saturated fat should you consume has caused some significant debate among nutritionists? Some (such as the World Health Organisation[7]) recommend that no more than 10% of total calories taken in should come from saturated fats.

Meanwhile others [8]have suggested that not only might saturated fats not increase risk of heart disease, but the kinds of saturated fats found in dairy products, may actually decrease the risk.

So who to believe?

It is not my intention to bamboozle you with contradictory information, but only to suggest something that goes against common understanding. That butter, instead of being an almost deadly, super lump of fat, which should be avoided at all costs, is actually perfectly fine to eat in moderation. It might not be super bad for you, but like with a lot of things, eating a lot of it may have some bad consequences.

So, before you root through stores to find the perfect butter substitute to spread, you can be safe in the understanding that simply buying some good old fashioned butter is not something you should worry about.

5 Surprising Health Benefits of Butter

Though there is a debate about the risks of saturated fats. There are a number of other genuine benefits which have been accepted. Here are five ways butter can actually be good [9]for you.

  1. Bone health
    Butter is naturally rich in important minerals like Zinc, Manganese, Selenium, and Copper. These minerals are all essential for the body, and help in a large number of important bodily functions, such as blood production (Manganese) and maintaining good functionality of the immune system (Selenium), and they are all essential in maintaining healthy bones and aid in bone regrowth and repair. As such can help keep issues like Arthritis and Osteoporosis well away.
  2. Vitamin A
    Butter is a good source of Vitamin A which is an essential vitamin, used by the body for a number of important functions. Vitamin A [10] is maintaining healthy eyes and can even improve your eyesight in dimly lit areas.
    That’s not all, Vitamin A is vital for boosting and maintaining the immune system, improving your bodily defense against further illness and infection.
    Also, Vitamin A has been shown to help maintain healthy skin.
  3. Intestinal Health
    I’ve written already about how fatty butter is, however in that fat are glycospingolipids, which whilst being hard to say, is a very beneficial fatty acid, one key in promoting healthy intestines by making it much more difficult for harmful bacteria join and bind with parts of your intestines, which could cause a number of gastronomical issues.
  4. Anti Cancer properties
    Butter, particularly butter from grass fed cows [11]is a good source of the beneficial fatty acid Conjugated Linoleic Acid, (CLA) which, on animals have been shown to help reduce tumors. Of course, its no way near a treatment, and certainly not a cure, but CLA could prove to be a great ally in the fight against cancer.
  5. Combats sexual dysfunction
    It has been found that vitamin A and D, both found in butter are important for sexual performance and aid against sterility. Indeed vitamin deficiency has a known connection to sexual sterility in both men and women. Therefore sources of vitamins, like butter, are vital for maintaining sexual functionality.

So, with the above considered, its clear that butter both may not be as bad for you as previously thought, but also contains an impressive range of health benefits.

Reference

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