When most people tell you they’ve eaten butter, what do you think? Do you immediately judge them, thinking they’re someone who must not care about a healthy diet plan?
Do you believe that they are doing their body a disservice by putting such a harmful fat into their system? Do you question what they really know about nutrition despite the fact they claim to be a healthy eater?
If that’s the case, it may just be you that’s misled. The fact is that butter is actually a very healthy addition to your diet plan – in moderation of course – and there are many reasons why you might choose to eat it.
Butter has been a staple in many diets for many years all over the world and it was only until the recent years that it was really shunned because everyone became fearful of fats and saturated fats in particular.
It was said that butter will quickly lead you down a path of heart disease and set you up for a heart attack. However, this information was misinformed. Now we have more research than ever illustrating that healthy fats can actually help combat heart disease and position you for superior longevity – butter included.
Margarine was often seen as the ‘superior’ choice over butter as it didn’t contain the saturated fat that butter did, but some margarine does contain an even worse fat – trans fats. The real trick to choosing healthy butter is to opt for grass-fed butter. When butter is grass fed, it has a totally different nutritional profile because the cow’s diet is far different as well. Grass-fed butter does still contain saturated fat, however, it is a healthy source of saturated fat.
Want to know more? Read on. Let’s go over why this form of fat is so beneficial and why you should add some butter to your meal plan guilt-free.
A Primer On Butter
Before we talk about the benefits of grass-fed butter, let’s make sure you know what it’s all about. Butter is created by churning fresh cream, which then causes the butterfat to separate from the buttermilk, leaving you with two products: buttermilk and butter. Because it is primarily the fat that is found in this end product, that makes butter nearly 80% fat (as water is still found in this product) and contains a number of different fatty acids along with fat-soluble vitamins.
When we are looking at grass-fed butter, this means that the cows used to produce the butter are fed a diet of grass rather than grain, making them healthier overall. Because they are healthier overall, their nutritional profile will change and they will give off fats that are of a different profile than grain-fed cows.
Grass-fed butter tends to be more yellow than grain fed butter, which is whiter, so that’s a notable difference that you want to remember.
In every tablespoon of grass-fed butter, you’re going to get 100 calories and 11 grams of fat, with seven of those grams coming from saturated fat sources.
You’ll also receive 30 mg of cholesterol, 500 IU’s of vitamin A as well as a small dose of both vitamin E and vitamin K. All of these are fat-soluble vitamins, meaning your body is going to require dietary fat to absorb them properly in the bloodstream, which is helpful because this means they are already packaged together.
When you get the fat-soluble vitamins in foods that are very low in dietary fat (such as vegetables for example), it becomes very important that you are serving them with foods rich in dietary fats in order to ensure that they aren’t just washed out of your system.
So now that you know a bit more about butter, let’s get to the info you need to know about the benefits it provides.
Inflammation is one of the leading causes of diseases today and can be linked to things like heart disease, diabetes, and arthritis. While to some degree, inflammation may be hereditary, much of the inflammation we are seeing in today’s culture comes as a result of poor lifestyle choices. People are eating far less healthy diets and are exercising even lesser than that, so the end result is the body begins revolting and you start seeing those high levels of inflammation creep up.
When you consume grass-fed butter however, you’ll increase the amount of butyric acid you have present in your body and this acid is closely connected to states of inflammation. The more of it you have, the lower your inflammation tends to be.
Butter appears to be especially helpful in dealing with Crohn’s disease1, so if you are someone who is suffering from that condition, this is all the more reason to opt for butter.
Improved Heart Health
Next, on the list of great benefits to look forward to if you add a dab of grass-fed butter to your sweet potatoes or on top of your broccoli is improved heart health.
This is where butter really shines over heart disease, which is the exact opposite that many people would expect.
Research has illustrated that when subjects consumed butter, they showed no correlation with heart disease while those who consumed margarine showed an increase2.
This is going to be again due to the high intake of trans fats found in margarine and zero trans fats found in butter.
Now you might be thinking that the best way to avoid this is to just purchase margarine that has been made with no trans fats. One quick trip down your grocer’s aisle and you’ll quickly come to find margarine of this variety.
As you are about to see, this would mean missing out on other great benefits grass-fed butter has to offer.
Improved Vitamin A Status
One thing that butter can really help you out with is improving your overall vitamin A status. Vitamin A is one of the important soluble fats in the body and is going to be responsible for keeping your vision in check, balancing your endocrine system (hormones), as well as for helping to maintain your teeth, bones, and soft tissues.
It’s also important especially during pregnancy as well as when you are breastfeeding, so not a nutrient you can afford to be short in.
Other good sources of vitamin A in the diet include beef liver, lamb liver, liver sausage, cod liver oil, salmon, Bluefin tuna, and goat cheese. As you can see, most people are not eating these on a daily basis, therefore your vitamin A needs may be going unmet.
While you can get them in supplemental form, the problem with doing so is that if you don’t take in dietary fat while you are taking this vitamin, your body may not absorb the vitamin A as it should, thus you will still fall deficient. With butter, you get that fat in at the same time, therefore you don’t have to worry about combining with food.
Excellent Source Of Energy
Another great benefit of grass-fed butter is that it does prove to be an excellent source of energy in the diet. Dietary fat is a good source of energy on its own being that it is so calorie dense, however with grass-fed butter, you get an extra benefit: Medium Chain Triglycerides.
This is a special form of fat that is often found in coconut oil as well and works in the body more like a carbohydrate, however, it doesn’t spike blood glucose levels. So you get a nice near-immediate boost to your energy (whereas regular fatty acids take a while to digest) but don’t have that crash to worry about when the fats wear off.
MCT’s are one of the best fuel sources available for this reason, making grass-fed butter an excellent choice for anyone who is involved in athletics and needs a high level of energy on a regular basis. They’re also great for those who may be suffering from diabetes and who can’t have a lot of sugar in their diet plan due to their blood glucose regulation issues.
Diabetics may find if they rely on standard fats as a fuel source alone, they quickly run into issues with maintaining optimal energy levels. But, if they are able to utilize MCT’s instead, this problem subsides and they still maintain that glucose control they are after and keep their energy level up.
Can Help Decrease Appetite
Another benefit that MCT’s bring is appetite control. This is both thanks to the fact that they are very calorie dense (in nature, since they are a dietary fat) and because they are delivering energy quickly in the body.
If you consume regular fat – say monounsaturated fat – you will get appetite control, but it will be slow to come on. Dietary fat does not break down quickly in the body, so you don’t notice it right away.
For example, let’s say you’re starving right now and eat a handful of almonds. As almonds primarily contain dietary fat, you will feel fuller from them…but probably not anytime within the next hour. It’s going to take some time for the body to work on those fats and deliver the energy they contain to the tissue cells.
On the flip side, if you were to eat say a bowl of white rice, this energy is going to be released very rapidly in the body and therefore you will get the hunger control nearly immediately. You won’t have to wait and will feel the effects of those carbs right away.
This said the satiety will wear off quickly as well. So fast to come, fast to go. With the almonds, you will see satiety come on slowly, but when it does, you will feel fuller for hours.
With grass-fed butter, the MCT’s come on fast, but then they also last. So they give you the best of both worlds. You’ll get quick relief from your hunger and then stay satisfied for a long time to come.
Rich Source Of CLA
Another form of fatty acid you’ll find in grass-fed butter that’s important to note is CLA, which stands for conjugated linoleic acid. This form of fat is a very healthy form of fat and offers a few key benefits.
· It helps to assist with the transport of fatty acids out of the fat cell and to the mitochondria where they can be burned as a fuel source
· It helps to improve endurance during physical activity
· It may help to provide protection against certain forms of cancer3
Many people take CLA in supplemental form who are trying to improve their body composition and lose body fat, however by getting it naturally through grass-fed butter, you can reap the same great benefits.
And while it may not cure cancer or entirely prevent it, it can decrease your overall risk factor, which is worth noting.
Can Help Improve Cholesterol Profile
Many people are under the impression that all cholesterol is a bad thing. But the truth is, your body needs some cholesterol to stay healthy. If you aren’t getting in any, your hormones would begin to go haywire and you would not feel like yourself any longer.
Cholesterol is also an important nutrient for optimizing brain health as well as keeping your nervous system functioning as it should, so those are two additional reasons why it’s important to have them in your menu.
We always hear about how cholesterol is such a bad thing and will set us up for heart attack and heart disease, but few people ever take the time to educate the population on what too low of cholesterol can do.
If you aren’t getting enough, you could actually be setting yourself up for higher risk of depression and anxiety, and may also notice that you have a harder time sleeping as you should.
Men need to especially take note because their cholesterol intake and saturated fat intake is closely connected to their natural testosterone release, so if they take their levels down too low, this could negatively impact this readings4.
This doesn’t mean you should go feast on a burger and fries from the local fast food joint to ensure your cholesterol is high enough. This is just to let you know to not fear cholesterol and think you need to avoid it completely.
Healthy forms of cholesterol like what’s found in grass-fed butter can be a great thing in moderation.
So there you have some of the important benefits of grass-fed butter to know about. It can be harder to find grass-fed butter than regular butter but it is very worthwhile to go through the trouble to seek it out. The nutritional profile of regular butter does not compare and it will not offer you nearly the same level of MCT’s and CLA that grass-fed butter does. Likewise, the vitamin content will also be altered if you are choosing to get your butter from grain fed cows.
As butter does contain calories, do remember to practice moderation. It is quite calorie dense at 100 per tablespoon, so if you aren’t careful, it could quickly cause you to gain weight. Measure out how much you use and be sure to integrate it into your total daily calorie intake. Then you should be fine.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the benefits of grass-fed butter?
Grass-fed butter can help lower inflammation, improve brain health, regulate your mood and hormones, and help provide a long-lasting source of energy.
Does grass fed butter cause inflammation?
No, the exact opposite. Grass-fed butter can help lower overall inflammation levels in the body and help protect you from disease.
Is grass-fed butter better than regular butter?
Yes, the differences in nutritional profiles are quite apparent between grass-fed butter and regular butter, so do make an effort to choose grass-fed whenever you can.
Is grass-fed butter bad for cholesterol?
No, in fact, eating grass-fed butter can improve your cholesterol and promote better overall heart health. The same cannot be said for regular butter, however.
Does grass fed butter taste different?
Grass-fed butter tends to have a richer taste than grain fed butter however most people find it just as good.
1. Sabatino, A. Di, et al. “Oral butyrate for mildly to moderately active Crohn’s disease.” Alimentary pharmacology & therapeutics 22.9 (2005): 789-794.
2. Gillman, Mattheu W., et al. “Margarine intake and subsequent coronary heart disease in men.” Epidemiology (Cambridge, Mass.) 8.2 (1997): 144-149.
3. Dhiman, T. R., et al. “Conjugated linoleic acid content of milk from cows fed different diets.” Journal of dairy Science 82.10 (1999): 2146-2156.
4. Hämäläinen, E. K., et al. “Decrease of serum total and free testosterone during a low-fat high-fiber diet.” Journal of steroid biochemistry 18.3 (1983): 369-370.