If you are a doubter about butter’s beneficial effects on your health, it’s high time you leapt into the twenty first century and took on board the facts! It’s amazing how certain myths can survive being smashed to bits by all sorts of sound new data, not just for years, but for several decades. Most notably, the bad publicity about natural saturated animal fats that went round over half a century ago – and is still sadly believed by many people even today. These fats, eaten by human beings since time immemorial, were blamed for causing blocked arteries, heart disease and high cholesterol levels in the blood stream. Butter took a particularly hard hammering and en masse people switched to the supposedly healthier polyunsaturated margarine.
Yet butter had been highly valued for its life-sustaining properties for millennia across the globe, eaten regularly and in large quantities by many supremely healthy nations. Its origins date back thousands of years to when our ancestors first started domesticating animals. The first written reference to butter was found on a 4 500 year old limestone tablet, illustrating how it was made. In India, ghee (clarified butter) has been used as a staple food and symbol of religious purity for over 3 000 years. The Bible itself contains many references to butter. Natural unprocessed oils and fats like butter supply the body with the essential fatty acids needed for longevity, hormone balance, heart health, sharp vision, glowing, moist skin and energy.
Far from causing disease, butter actually protects us against many diseases. Heart disease was rare in America at the turn of the century, but between 1920 and 1960, rose to become America’s number one killer. Yet during the very same period, butter consumption plummeted from eighteen pounds per person per year to four, while consumption of the newly invented margarine soared!
Butter actually contains many nutrients that protect us from heart disease. First among these is vitamin A, needed for healthy thyroid and adrenal glands, both of which play an important role in maintaining proper functioning of the heart and cardiovascular system. Butter is one of its very best, most easily absorbed sources. Butter also contains lecithin which assists in proper assimilation and metabolism of cholesterol and other fat constituents, as well as anti-oxidants which protect against free radical damage which weakens the arteries and contributes to the development of cancers. One of the vital anti-oxidants found in butter is selenium, in which it is especially rich. Selenium helps keep joints helathy too. Cholesterol found in butter is a potent anti-oxidant, and plays an important role in the development of the brain and nervous system. Breast milk itself is high in cholesterol, containing over 50 percent of its calories as butterfat. Our own bodies in fact manufacture cholesterol. Butter contains the correct balance of omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids needed by the human body. This balance is critical to optimal health. With its perfect blend of saturated and monounsaturated fatty acids, butter is stable in cooking and does not break down at high temperatures.
Many of the naturally saturated fats in butter have strong anti-cancer properties. Butter is rich in short and medium chain fatty acid chains, found to have strong anti-tumour effects. Butter also contains conjugated linoleic acid which gives excellent protection against cancer, helps build muscle and boosts the immune system. The Vitamin A in butter is essential to a healthy immune system, just as short and medium chain fatty acids have immune system strengthening properties. Vitamins A and D in butter are essential to the proper absorption of calcium and hence necessary for strong bones and teeth. Butter helps prevent calcification of the joints, osteoporosis and tooth decay. Butter is also a good source of easily absorbed iodine.
Butterfat contains glycospingolipids, a special category of fatty acids that protect against gastro-intestinal infection, especially in the very young and the elderly. For this reason, children who drink skimmed milk have diarrhoea at rates three to five times greater than those drinking whole milk. Cholesterol in butterfat promotes healthy intestinal walls and protects against colon cancer.
Short and medium chain fatty acids found in butter, amongst them lauric acid, protect against pathogens and have strong anti-fungal effects. Butter thus assists in treating candida overgrowth. Cholesterol found in butterfat is essential to children’s brain and nervous system development and the arachidonic acid found in butter plays a role in brain function and is a vital component of cell membranes. If you are pregnant, hope to become pregnant or are breast-feeding, eat butter for your baby’s developing brain, bones and teeth!
Butter is a completely natural food. Over the past few decades, the swing has been back to natural unprocessed foods, by anyone interested in promoting optimal health via an excellent diet. The alternatives to butter are processed fats created chemically from refined polyunsaturated oils. The process used to make these normally liquid oils spreadable is hydrogenation, by which hydrogen atoms are forced into the holes of unsaturated fatty acids, using a metal catalyst such as nickel or platinum, traces of which can remain. When hydrogen atoms combine with carbon atoms, the oils becomes saturated or hardened. The resultant product is a dark grey substance which is filtered, deodorised and artificially coloured – to make it resemble butter. This artificial fat contains trans fatty acids and exactly the same calorie count as butter. Margarine and similar hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated processed polyunsaturated oils containing excessive long chain fatty acids are potentially more detrimental to health than any natural saturated fat, and also negatively effect the immune system.
Those ethnic groups in the world who do not use butter for want of being able to keep dairy animals obtain the same vital nutrients from insects, organ meats, fish eggs and the fat of marine animals. If you don’t eat bugs or blubber – butter is not just better, it’s essential!