nutrition-20The major health benefits of butter.

In the world of nutrition, no food has been more maligned than butter. Its major sin was that it’s a fat, and even worse, a saturated fat, which means your arteries will clog just by looking at it, right?

No so! First, let’s clear things up a bit. A big pet peeve of mine is supposedly educated nutritionists who put all fats in the same category. Butter is an animal fat sure, but few nutritionists know that up to 30% of the total fats in butter is monounsaturated oleic acid, the same fatty acid that makes up olive oil?

Add to that that 20% of butter’s total volume is water and milk solids, making it the “leanest” of all fat sources out there.

Now, half the fats in butter are saturated fats, but unless you’ve been living under a rock, or you know, listening to the nutrition segment of your morning show, you know that saturated fats are not bad. Some, not all, saturated fats do raise total cholesterol a bit, but since dietary cholesterol amounts to 20-25% of the cholesterol in the body, it’s far from problematic. The myth that all saturated fats raise cholesterol arose from early studies that didn’t differentiate between saturated and trans fats. The fact is, some saturated fats actually lower cholesterol. Plus a fatty acid is rarely alone in nature. It rather comes in a group so naturally fat-containing foods are usually balanced in terms of health benefits.

Saturated fats in butter can be especially beneficial, since they have anti-cancer, anti-bacterial and weight-control properties. It’s worth noting that stearic acid, the most abundant fatty acid in butter, is the preferred fuel source for the heart. Kind of odd for a supposedly infarctus-inducing food! It can also lower LDL, the type of cholesterol that has been singled out as a risk factor in heart disease. Lauric acid, another saturated fat found in butter, has anti-bacterial properties, as well as the ability to prevent certain pathogens and viruses from taking effect.

CLA, conjugated linolenic acid, is another fat found in grass-fed cow’s butter that’s been found to have anticarcinogenic properties, and can also make you leaner. Butter can help you fight cancer and get shredded, who says fats are bad for you? The caveat is that the butter has to come from cows that ate what they were supposed to eat: grass. Grain-fed cow’s butter does not contain CLA and is rich in inflammatory compounds such as omega-6, so don’t be cheap when it comes to choosing the right fat sources. Go for grass-fed, organic butter, period.

Another important fatty acid found in butter is butyric acid, a saturated fat that can prevent colon and colorectal cancers and ramps down the gut inflammatory response. It also acts as a prebiotics, keeping the digestive system healthy.

To top it all off, butter is very rich in vitamin A, in addition to containing all the other fat-soluble vitamins: D, E and K. Grass-fed butter in also rich in anti-oxidants and iodine, contributing to keep rickets and goiter at bay. This is how people in mountainous regions have avoided thyroid-related issues for centuries. It should also be mentioned that fat-soluble vitamins are named so for a reason: you need fat to assimilate them! For example, butter, with its wide spectrum of fatty acids, is a great food to help you absorb the nutrients found in broccoli.

Incorporate butter in your daily diet, you’re going to be healthier and leaner for it.

Coach Charles R. Poliquin –