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For centuries families raised their own cows to provide natural dairy foods for their tables. They drank the milk, whipped the cream, and churned the butter. These foods provided excellent nutrition, satisfied the appetite and tasted great. In fact, Dr. Weston Price, who extensively studied ancestral diets, found that butter was a staple for many vibrantly healthy populations.1

Butter is rich in vitamins A, D, E and K. It also provides all the cofactors needed to optimise absorption of these nutrients. Studies show that vitamin A is more easily absorbed and utilised from butter than from any other food.2 Vitamins A and D are essential in the absorption of calcium, necessary for strong bones and teeth and Vitamin A is particularly important for protein utilisation.3 Coronary heart disease risk is lower among those who consume more vitamin E than those who take in less.4 Butterfat also contains trace minerals, including manganese, zinc, chromium and iodine.5 Butter is also rich in conjugated linoleic acid, or CLA. Women with the highest levels of CLA in their diet have a 60% lower risk of breast cancer than those with the lowest levels.6 CLA has also been found to support the immune system and encourage muscle building while resisting weight gain.7 Fat-phobia has led to a reduced intake of this valuable nutrient, as it is only found in foods such as whole milk, beef, lamb, and butter. Research also confirms that naturally raised grass-fed animals have as much as 500% more CLA in their milk than those fed conventional grain-based diets.8

The only natural source of butyric acid is in cow milk-fat. Butter and clarified butter (ghee) offer high amounts of this beneficial fatty acid. Butyric acid, or butyrate, is the primary fuel for the colon walls, and supports the function and integrity of the gastrointestinal tract.9 It is also used extensively by the brain to produce GABA (gamma-amino butyric acid), which is the brain’s natural calming agent that helps turn off stress reactions.10 The by-product of butter is water. Accordingly, a reasonable daily intake of butter, with adequate vegetables for fibre, will assist in proper hydration of the bowel and produce healthy, regular bowel movements. Butter also provides sustained energy and does not create weight issues. Carbohydrate foods, on the other hand, provide quick energy but can tend to dehydrate creating a need to drink more water.

Butter has properties that protect the heart, unlike margarine and other fabricated fats that are it’s real threat. Stearic acid, found in beef fat and butter, is actually a preferred food for the heart.11 ,12 This is why the fat around the heart is highly saturated. A Medical Research Council survey showed that men eating butter ran half the risk of developing heart disease compared to those using margarine.13 A study in India, published in the 1976 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, compared two populations in India (northern and southern), where the notable difference in the diet was the type of fat consumed. Those in the north consumed meat and ghee as their main sources of protein and fat. The southern population used margarine, did not eat meat, yet had a heart disease rate 15 times greater than the northern group despite the fact they had lower cholesterol levels.((American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 1967, 20:462-75)) A follow-up study was completed 20 years later and reported similar statistics.14 Without doubt, the substitution of natural saturated fats with processed vegetable oils has proven to be a major health disaster!

Butter consists of both short and medium chain fatty acids, being shorter in length than most of the fatty acids found in other fats and oils. The short and medium chains of butter allow it to be directly absorbed from the intestines for energy.15 ,16 ,17 Furthermore, because butter is rich in nutrients and saturated fats, it offers a feeling of satisfaction, thus reducing cravings and binge eating. The short and medium chain fatty acids also contribute to the health of the immune system18 and provide antimicrobial properties, which protect the gut from viruses, yeasts, and pathogenic bacteria.19 ,20 Increased butter consumption has been renowned for improving digestion and reversing conditions, from dyspeptic stomach through to itchy anus.

Cholesterol is found in all body tissues and comprises an integral part of cell membranes. It is necessary for repair and maintenance, hormone production, brain function, immune function, eye development, transportation of antioxidants and elimination of fat-soluble toxins. Cholesterol is also necessary in the metabolism of serotonin, the “feel-good” brain chemical.21 This explains why low cholesterol levels have been linked to poor moods, depression and aggressive behaviour. The body tries to maintain a balance between the amount of cholesterol consumed and the amount manufactured by the liver. If too little is consumed through food, the liver will produce more. If adequate amounts are eaten, the liver produces less. This is why even drastic decreases in dietary cholesterol intake often produce only small drops in blood cholesterol.22 Also, lecithin in butter assists in the proper assimilation and metabolism of cholesterol.23

Butter and cream contain very little lactose or casein, the two substances that cause dairy intolerance in some people. Accordingly, those who are lactose intolerant may tolerate these foods. Those with extreme intolerance for milk protein (casein) can often take butter in the form of ghee from which the milk solids have been removed.24

These days, the challenges of self-sufficiency have been superseded by the perplexing world of the supermarket – especially in the dairy section. Many artificially manufactured products, such as butter substitutes, margarines and spreads have replaced foods ordained by God to promote health and prolong life. In 1912, Professor Paul Sabatier shared the Nobel Prize in chemistry for developing a method, using nickel oxide as a catalyst, whereby liquid oils could be solidified. The process, called hydrogenation, converts vegetable oils into margarine which is used in most processed foods, including breads, biscuits, fast food, cakes and most fried foods. For decades, these phony-fats have been promoted as “healthy alternatives” to butter. However research shows they promote disease and shorten life. Vegetable oils are refined, emulsified and subjected to high temperatures, then reacted with the nickel. Dyes and flavours are added to make the product resemble butter.25 This process produces trans-fatty acids which penetrate cell membranes, disrupt white cells, aggregate red cells and increase the risk of many diseases.

In the 1940’s researchers reported a strong correlation between cancer and the consumption of fat. While hydrogenated fats were the only fats on which these studies were based, the blame was placed on saturated fat.26 Since then fears associated with butter consumption have been generated by the fact that butter contains saturated fat, a health promoting, yet falsely maligned nutrient. Saturated fats are stable. They support immune function27 and help maintain cell integrity.28 The latest research on fat clearly shows that it is harmful to consume damaged fats, such as hydrogenated oils or those produced using high temperatures. Hydrogenated trans-fats block the body’s ability to use essential fatty acids, such as DHA. This can lead to increased blood cholesterol and immune system dysfunction.29 Consumption has also been associated with coronary heart disease, cancer, diabetes, obesity, Alzheimer’s disease, liver dysfunction, decreased visual acuity, infertility and problems with bones and tendons.30 ,31 ,32 ,33 In 2002 the National Academy of Sciences attempted to set a safe intake level for trans-fatty acids and concluded, “the only safe intake of trans-fat is zero.”34

Butter is indeed better and can be eaten with confidence. Organic butters are available in most supermarkets. I recommend the unprocessed solid block butter.  Spread it over vegetables, add it to cooking and mash it with potatoes. However you use it, enjoy this God-given delicacy and reap a multitude of health benefits.

 


  1. Price, Weston, DDS “Nutrition and Physical Degeneration”  1945, Price Pottenger Nutrition Foundation, Inc., La Mesa, California. 

  2. Enig, Mary PhD and Fallon, Sally. ”The Skinny on Fats.” Found at www.westonaprice.org Published 1999. Found on January 5, 2004. 

  3. Enig, Mary Ph.D. and Fallon, Sally. “The Skinny on Fats.” Found at www.westonaprice.org. Published 1999. Found on Dec. 18th 2001. 

  4. Rimm EB, et al. Vitamin E consumption and the risk of coronary heart disease in men, N Engl J Med 1993;328:1450-6 

  5. Enig, Mary PhD and Fallon, Sally. ”The Skinny on Fats.” Found at www.westonaprice.org Published 1999. Found on January 5, 2004. 

  6. Aro, A., S. Mannisto, I. Salminen, M. L. Ovaskainen, V. Kataja, and M. Uusitupa. “Inverse Association between Dietary and Serum Conjugated Linoleic Acid and Risk of Breast Cancer in Postmenopausal Women.” Nutr Cancer 38, no. 2 (2000): 151-7. 

  7. Belury, M A, Nutr Rev, April 1995, 53:(4)83-89; Kelly, M L, et al, J Dairy Sci, Jun 1998, 81(6):1630-6 

  8. Satter, Larry. USDA ARS US Dairy Forage Research Center. 1950 Linden Lane. University of Wisconsin, Madison WI Found at www.mercola.com on September 11, 2003 

  9. Levin, Buck, PhD. R.D. 1994. Intestinal Permeability and Nutritional Support for Intestinal Integrity. Quarterly Review of Natural Medicine. Nutrition Research Review 

  10. Ross, Julia, MA. The Mood Cure. Viking Publishing. 2002. 

  11. L D Lawson and F Kummerow, “B-Oxidation of the Coenzyme A Esters of Vaccenic, Elaidic and Petroselaidic Acids by Rat Heart Mitochondria,” Lipids, 1979, 14:501-503 

  12. Lawson, L D and F Kummerow, Lipids, 1979, 14:501-503; Garg, M L, Lipids, Apr 1989, 24(4):334-9 

  13. Nutr Week, Mar 22, 1991, 21:12:2-3 

  14. Bihari S. Raheja of the Jaslok Hospital in Bombay. Lancet. Letter November 1987. 

  15. Fife, Bruce, M.D. “The Healing Miracles of Coconut Oil.” Healthwise, Colorado Springs, CO. 2001 

  16. Portillo, M P, et al, Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord, Oct 1998, 22(10):947-9; Dulloo, A G, et al, Metabolism, Feb 1995, 44(2):273-9 

  17. NAS Panel: Only Safe Intake of Trans Fat is Zero” Centre for Science in the Public Interest, 7/10/02, cspinet.org 

  18. Kabara, J J, The Pharmacological Effects of Lipids, The American Oil Chemists’ Society, Champaign, IL, 1978, 1-14; Cohen, L A, et al, J Natl Cancer Inst ,1986, 77:43 Copyright © 2004 Vitamin Cottage Natural Grocers, Inc. Originally published in the Vitamin Cottage Health Hotline October 2004 

  19. Enig, Mary PhD and Fallon, Sally. ”The Skinny on Fats.” Found at www.westonaprice.org Published 1999. Found on January 5, 2004. 

  20. H Engelberg, “Low Serum Cholesterol and Suicide,” Lancet, March 21, 1992, 339:727-728 

  21. H Engelberg, “Low Serum Cholesterol and Suicide,” Lancet, March 21, 1992, 339:727-728 

  22.  Enig, Mary, Ph.D. Know Your Fats. Bethesda Press, Silver Spring, MD. 2000 

  23. Enig, Mary PhD and Fallon, Sally. ”The Skinny on Fats.” Found at www.westonaprice.org Published 1999. Found on January 5, 2004. 

  24. Fallon, Sally. Nourishing Traditions. New Trends Publishing. 2001. 

  25. Kabara, J J, “The Pharmacological Effects of Lipids”, The American Oil Chemists’ Society, Champaign, IL, 1978, 1-14; Cohen, L A, et al, J Natl Cancer Inst ,1986, 77:43 

  26. Enig, Mary G, PhD, Nutr Quarterly, 1993, 17 : (4):79-95 

  27. Kabara, J J, The Pharmacological Effects of Lipids, The American Oil Chemists Society, Champaign, IL, 1978, 1-14; Cohen, L A, et al, J Natl Cancer Inst, 1986, 77:43 

  28. Enig, Mary Ph.D. and Fallon, Sally. “The Skinny on Fats.” Found at www.westonaprice.org. Published 1999. Found on Dec. 18th 2001. 

  29. Enig, Mary G, PhD, Trans Fatty Acids in the Food Supply: A Comprehensive Report Covering 60 Years of Research, 2nd Edition, Enig Associates, Inc, Silver Spring, MD, 1995, 148-154; Enig, Mary G, PhD, et al, J Am Coll Nutr, 1990, 9:471-86 

  30. Fallon, Sally. Nourishing Traditions. ProMotion Publishing. San Diego, CA. 1995. 

  31. Enig, Mary Dr. Health Risks from Processed Foods and Trans Fats. Interview with Richard Passwater, Ph.D. Whole Foods Magazine. Found at www.healthy.net on Nov. 18th 2001. 

  32. Enig, Mary G, PhD, Trans Fatty Acids in the Food Supply: A Comprehensive Report Covering 60 Years of Research, 2nd Edition, Enig Associates, Inc, Silver Spring, MD, 1995; Watkins, B A et al, Br Pouli Sci, Dec 1991, 32(5):1109-1119 

  33. Mozaffarian D, Katan MB, Ascherio A, Stampfer MJ, Willett WC (2006). “Trans fatty acids and cardiovascular disease”. N. Engl. J. Med. 354 (15): 1601-13. 

  34. Kabara, J J, The Pharmacological Effects of Lipids, The American Oil Chemists’ Society, Champaign, IL, 1978, 1-14; Cohen, L A, et al, J Natl Cancer Inst ,1986, 77:43 Copyright © 2004 Vitamin Cottage Natural Grocers, Inc. Originally published in the Vitamin Cottage Health Hotline October 2004 

Gary Martin

Author Gary Martin

Co-Founder and General Manager of Living Valley Springs - Australia’s premier health retreat. Backed by a team of natural health professionals, Gary has played a pivotal role in transforming lives and is passionate about advancing a major health revolution in Australia!

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