Lauren Scott, Arizona Farm Bureau Intern
In the spirit of the famous 12-step program, “Hi, my name is Lauren, and I’m addicted to butter.” I’ve done step one and confessed. But please, don’t make me give up butter!
Besides, maybe I’m not addicted, I just really like it a lot! I use butter in most things that I cook, and if I’m cooking something that doesn’t call for butter, you’d better believe I am going to try to sneak it in! When I tell people that my secret ingredient is butter, they are quick to tell me that butter is unhealthy and that I’m asking for future heart problems, but what they may not know is that butter is making a comeback.
Butter has been off the ‘healthy’ food scene for a while. It has been substituted by everything from applesauce to canola oil to create ‘healthier’ recipes, but why substitute when butter can be just as good as the alternatives? It’s because people are scared of the word ‘fat.’ As in: butter contains healthy fats.
Nina Teicholz, author of The Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat, & Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet, which details how the low-fat diet rose to supremacy on the back of politics and shoddy science, supports my premise. In fact, her book goes on to contend that the low-fat diet of the modern age has led to the consumption of more sugar and other unhealthy products.
One such product might be Margarine. Margarine has been used in the past as a ‘healthy’ substitute for butter in recipes, but the experts are moving away from Margarine be considered a healthy substitute. In reality, it contains more unhealthy and processed trans-fat than butter. It also has almost the same, if not the exact, amount of calories per serving as butter. So why are we substituting it in for something that is potentially healthier? Again, because of the word ‘fat’. Margarine typically has just a little bit less fat than butter, and even though that may be the only benefit of the stuff, people still take butter out and put Margarine in.
Butter contains most of the fats out there including polyunsaturated, saturated, monounsaturated and trans fats. We’ve all heard of at least one of these, and it probably has a negative connotation in our mind, but having moderate amounts of these fats in your diet isn’t bad at all! Just like with other foods, we must control the quantity we eat. Remember, it’s all about balance. Overeating of anything will cause bloating, weight gain, and make a person generally uncomfortable.
Besides healthy fats, butter contains a handful of vitamins that can help immune health. The vitamins that are in butter are vitamins A, D, E and K2, among others. Vitamin A helps with the development of certain body systems, vitamin D helps absorb calcium and promotes bone growth, vitamin E becomes an antioxidant in the body and protects from free radicals and vitamin K2 is needed in the liver to create blood-clotting proteins. These are all vitamins a person needs to stay healthy, so don’t deprive yourself of them.
The last thing I’d like to talk about on the topic of butter is its not-so-real link to obesity. Many people claim that butter added to diets has helped to create an obesity epidemic, when in reality using moderate amounts of butter in your diet can help to decrease weight. For the scientific evidence of this, take a look at The Relationship Between High-fat Dairy Consumption and Obesity, Cardiovascular, and Metabolic Disease.
So, I defend my love of butter, and in the spirit of Julia Childs, “With enough butter anything is good.” Butter is not bad for you, and like everything else, having it in moderation is totally fine. Not only will it add flavor to your favorite dishes, but it can help your health in the process; and remember, you can visit fillyourplate.org for more information and healthy, tasty recipes that include butter!
Oh, yeah, and on the point about moderation!? Julia Childs was also known to say, “Everything in moderation … including moderation!”