Butter has long been a staple of diets of people who enjoy optimal health. Only within the past 60 years has it become the villain of heart disease lore. In the wake of its modern reputation, few realize that butter held a place in the heart of American meals long before heart disease became a problem.
In fact, real butter (butter oil, clarified butter or ghee for the lactose and casein intolerant), preferably from pasture-fed cows, should be served with every meal. The fats in butter make meals more satisfying, and people who eat butter routinely are less likely to overeat.
Butter is a key source of the most easily utilized form of Vitamin A, required for support of skin and organs, including endocrine glands, the immune system and the brain. We don’t think of antioxidants in butter, but in fact butter is loaded with them. Butter is a good source of vitamin E. It contains good cholesterol, the type that is not oxidized and is important for brain and organ function. It is a natural source of conjugated linoleic acids (CLA), which show promise in research for holding weight to a normal range and preventing diabetes.
Short and medium chain fatty acids in butter have anti-tumor effects that can help prevent cancer. Vitamins A and D in butter from healthy cows assist in the absorption of calcium for healthy bones and teeth. The iodine in butter is important for the health of the thyroid gland and a healthy metabolism by extension. Lipids in butter help protect the intestine from infection. The omega 3 fatty acids found in pasture butter are essential to brain and mental health. When paired with bread and other carbohydrate sources, butter slows the entry of sugar into the bloodstream, and when melted over hot vegetables, butter helps them surrender their nutrients in forms easy to digest.
Butter appears to be heart protective. Butter is one of the best foods for increasing the HDLs, or "good cholesterol" in your bloodstream. Research shows its effect on LDLs is to make them large and fluffy, a condition known as "Pattern A", so LDLs are less likely to contribute to clogged arteries.
Cows properly fed on nutrient rich green pastures are the healthiest. Butter from these cows (pasture butter) is the most nutritious of all. This vibrant gold butter derives its rich yellow color from carotenes in the greens cows eat. Osteoporosis and coronary artery disease (heart disease) are strongly associated with deficiencies of Vitamin K2, and pasture butter is chock full of this nutrient. All this from a food that tastes delicious!
These are just a few of the virtues of real butter. When it comes to butter, purchase the highest quality you can find. Pastured, cultured butter is best. Butter of this quality is harvested from Spring through Autumn, but thanks to refrigeration companies that produce it can make it available year round. Links to three sources of pasture butter can be found below:
Organic Valley Pasture Butter
Kerrygold Pure Irish Butter
And in the words of butter-loving Julia Child, who lived 92 years, “Bon appetit!”