The Pulse of Natural Health Newsletter

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Butter Is Better

34

If you don’t think so, consider this.

Here is a flow chart from PreventDisease.com showing the manufacturing process of margarine:

flow chart

This wonderful product also contains unnatural trans fats, which contribute to heart disease, cancer, bone problems, hormonal imbalance and skin disease; and free radicals, the result of high temperature industrial processing of vegetable oils, which may contribute to cancer and heart disease.

Butter is better by almost every measure. Even setting aside the fact that no margarine comes close to butter in taste, butter actually protects us from many diseases, as the Weston A. Price Foundation has noted. Butter is the best and most easily absorbed source of vitamin A, which is needed for the health of the thyroid and adrenal glands, which in turn help maintain the proper functioning of the heart and cardiovascular system. Abnormalities of the heart and larger blood vessels occur in babies born to vitamin A deficient mothers.

Butter also contains a number of antioxidants that protect against the kind of free radical damage that weakens the arteries. It’s also a very rich source of selenium, a vital antioxidant; in fact, butter contains more per gram than herring or wheat germ.

If that isn’t convincing enough, last March’s study in the Annals of Internal Medicine concluded, quite emphatically, that “saturated fat does not cause heart disease.”

“The fact is, there has never been solid evidence for the idea that these fats cause disease,” says the Wall Street Journal. “We only believe this to be the case because nutrition policy has been derailed over the past half-century by a mixture of personal ambition, bad science, politics and bias.”

Unfortunately some of that politics and bias has been at the American Heart Association, which still recommends avoiding saturated fat.

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  • Elizabeth

    While it’s nice that you find butter to be so healthy, it’s also and far more importantly, incredibly cruel and therefore off-limits to all of us life-respecting vegans. I personally do not consume margarine either, and appreciated learning how horrible that is, health-wise, but I absolutely detest the touting of anti-vegan and pro-cruelty consumption habits. Especially to such a wide audience, as you no doubt have.

  • Elizabeth

    While it’s nice that you find butter to be so healthy, it’s also and far more importantly, incredibly cruel and therefore off-limits to all of us life-respecting vegans. I personally do not consume margarine either, and appreciated learning how horrible that is, health-wise, but I absolutely detest the touting of anti-vegan and pro-cruelty consumption habits. Especially to such a wide audience, as you no doubt have.

  • Julie Snow

    Are you including vegan options such as organic Earth Balance in this analysis? I was under the impression that it is healthy. It is certified organic, made from expeller-pressed oil, and has zero trans fat.

  • Julie Snow

    Are you including vegan options such as organic Earth Balance in this analysis? I was under the impression that it is healthy. It is certified organic, made from expeller-pressed oil, and has zero trans fat.

  • doni

    How does cream or butterfat in milk compare with butter? Does the processing that produces butter make it a more or less helathful procuct?

  • doni

    How does cream or butterfat in milk compare with butter? Does the processing that produces butter make it a more or less helathful procuct?

  • Robert Cruder

    Agreed that even with the elimination of trans fats, butter is healthier than most alternatives. I have eaten ice cream made with coconut oil and suspect that a spread made with it would have advantages over butter for some.

    The real problem is that science fact is obscured with ideology. Some such as PETA criticize butter out of concern for animal welfare. Vegetarians criticize it because it comes from animals regardless of how they had been treated. Others too numerous to mention have criticized margarine because it is “processed” and “artificial” and has “chemicals” ignoring the fact that commercial butter is refined, colored and may contain preservatives.

    Neither uses the science to improve their own health, only as a club to bash those of the opposing ideology. It is sad.

  • Robert Cruder

    Agreed that even with the elimination of trans fats, butter is healthier than most alternatives. I have eaten ice cream made with coconut oil and suspect that a spread made with it would have advantages over butter for some.

    The real problem is that science fact is obscured with ideology. Some such as PETA criticize butter out of concern for animal welfare. Vegetarians criticize it because it comes from animals regardless of how they had been treated. Others too numerous to mention have criticized margarine because it is “processed” and “artificial” and has “chemicals” ignoring the fact that commercial butter is refined, colored and may contain preservatives.

    Neither uses the science to improve their own health, only as a club to bash those of the opposing ideology. It is sad.

  • Suzanne

    Butter is better for your health and way more delicious.

  • Suzanne

    Butter is better for your health and way more delicious.

  • Pamela

    That’s disgusting and exactly why I do NOT EVER eat margarine. Butter only!!!

  • Pamela

    That’s disgusting and exactly why I do NOT EVER eat margarine. Butter only!!!

  • Dave Fleagle

    Please look into the book Grain Brain by David Perlmutter, MD. He presents an enlightening, informed, balanced (and readable) critique about what’s really been going on concerning our chronic ill-health along with delightful solutions. I am very impressed!

    What do you think?

    dcf

  • Dave Fleagle

    Please look into the book Grain Brain by David Perlmutter, MD. He presents an enlightening, informed, balanced (and readable) critique about what’s really been going on concerning our chronic ill-health along with delightful solutions. I am very impressed!

    What do you think?

    dcf

  • What about these vegan type products, e.g. Earth Balance natural buttery spread? Is it a Margarine? At least no non-human animals are harmed!

  • What about these vegan type products, e.g. Earth Balance natural buttery spread? Is it a Margarine? At least no non-human animals are harmed!

  • Butter is NOT cruelty-free! I’ve heard that when margarine was first introduced during World War II as a substitute for butter due to war rationing, it was looked upon with suspicion. Now margarine easily replaces butter all the time and people don’t think twice about it.

    Similarly, if meat and dairy analogs are available everywhere: in restaurants, supermarkets, etc., it will make it easier for Americans to transition to a plant-based diet… to transition to veganism.

    I must question this article as it relies on information from the Weston A. Price Foundation, which is a front for the animal exploitation industries. And the claim from the Annals of Internal Medicine that “saturated fat does not cause heart disease” contradicts the past thirty years of medical research.

    From The Pritikin Plan (1982) to the McDougall Plan (1983) to A Vegetarian Sourcebook (1983) to John Robbins’ Pulitzer Prize nominated Diet for a New America (1987) to Vegan: The New Ethic of Eating (1997) to The China Study (2005) to Please Don’t Eat the Animals (2007) to the Forks Over Knives DVD (2011) to Vegucated (2012)…

    …the evidence continues to mount that the optimum diet for humanity is a vegan diet!

    Vegan author John Robbins writes that the meat and dairy industries, the saturated fat industries, were / are eager to fund studies disproving a connection between saturated fat and heart disease. He likens their tactics to those of the tobacco industry!

  • Butter is NOT cruelty-free! I’ve heard that when margarine was first introduced during World War II as a substitute for butter due to war rationing, it was looked upon with suspicion. Now margarine easily replaces butter all the time and people don’t think twice about it.

    Similarly, if meat and dairy analogs are available everywhere: in restaurants, supermarkets, etc., it will make it easier for Americans to transition to a plant-based diet… to transition to veganism.

    I must question this article as it relies on information from the Weston A. Price Foundation, which is a front for the animal exploitation industries. And the claim from the Annals of Internal Medicine that “saturated fat does not cause heart disease” contradicts the past thirty years of medical research.

    From The Pritikin Plan (1982) to the McDougall Plan (1983) to A Vegetarian Sourcebook (1983) to John Robbins’ Pulitzer Prize nominated Diet for a New America (1987) to Vegan: The New Ethic of Eating (1997) to The China Study (2005) to Please Don’t Eat the Animals (2007) to the Forks Over Knives DVD (2011) to Vegucated (2012)…

    …the evidence continues to mount that the optimum diet for humanity is a vegan diet!

    Vegan author John Robbins writes that the meat and dairy industries, the saturated fat industries, were / are eager to fund studies disproving a connection between saturated fat and heart disease. He likens their tactics to those of the tobacco industry!

  • rick baldwin

    I am going back to butter,even tho it is hard to spread. I don’t use hardly any now these days.

  • rick baldwin

    I am going back to butter,even tho it is hard to spread. I don’t use hardly any now these days.

  • Y.D. Jordan

    Thank goodness I don’t use butter nor margarine. But I use extra virgin olive oil instead. Even on sandwiches, nothing beats peanut butter (freshly grounded at Whole Foods).

  • Y.D. Jordan

    Thank goodness I don’t use butter nor margarine. But I use extra virgin olive oil instead. Even on sandwiches, nothing beats peanut butter (freshly grounded at Whole Foods).

  • Mark Thorson

    First, this is not a study — it is a meta-analysis of multiple studies done by other groups. This approach is always problematic because the studies will be done with different methodologies, different populations, etc. and the meta-analysis attempts to cram them all into a single model. Also, this introduces the opportunity to cherry-pick the studies to be included in the meta-analysis to support the notions of the authors.

    Second, the conclusion does not say “saturated fat does not cause heart disease”. It says “Current evidence does not clearly support cardiovascular guidelines that encourage high consumption of polyunsaturated fatty acids and low consumption of total saturated fats.” That’s quite a different statement, because it leaves open the possibility that saturated fat does cause heart disease. Large-population long-term studies such as the famous Framingham Heart Study do implicate saturated fat in heart disease, and these studies are the basis for the American Heart Association recommendation against saturated fat. There are no large-scale studies which exonerate saturated fat consumption from being a risk factor for heart disease.

    There are flaws in this meta-analysis, which are mentioned in the comments to this study, such as the comment by Willett, et al.

    Butter is certainly better than old-fashioned margarines, which were made from trans-fats. There still are such margarines, and they should be avoided. However, there are new margarines which contain no trans-fats and are very high in omega-3 fatty acids. Even this new meta-analysis indicates omega-3 fatty acids are good, better than saturated fats, monounsaturated fats, and omega-6 fatty acids.

    Current research implicates endothelial dysfunction as the initial event in atherosclerosis. Sugar causes oxidative stress, which in turn causes endothelial dysfunction. The etiology of atherosclerosis is not as simple as good vs. bad fats, and it may well be that both sugar and saturated fats are important risk factors in causing cardiovascular disease.

  • Mark Thorson

    First, this is not a study — it is a meta-analysis of multiple studies done by other groups. This approach is always problematic because the studies will be done with different methodologies, different populations, etc. and the meta-analysis attempts to cram them all into a single model. Also, this introduces the opportunity to cherry-pick the studies to be included in the meta-analysis to support the notions of the authors.

    Second, the conclusion does not say “saturated fat does not cause heart disease”. It says “Current evidence does not clearly support cardiovascular guidelines that encourage high consumption of polyunsaturated fatty acids and low consumption of total saturated fats.” That’s quite a different statement, because it leaves open the possibility that saturated fat does cause heart disease. Large-population long-term studies such as the famous Framingham Heart Study do implicate saturated fat in heart disease, and these studies are the basis for the American Heart Association recommendation against saturated fat. There are no large-scale studies which exonerate saturated fat consumption from being a risk factor for heart disease.

    There are flaws in this meta-analysis, which are mentioned in the comments to this study, such as the comment by Willett, et al.

    Butter is certainly better than old-fashioned margarines, which were made from trans-fats. There still are such margarines, and they should be avoided. However, there are new margarines which contain no trans-fats and are very high in omega-3 fatty acids. Even this new meta-analysis indicates omega-3 fatty acids are good, better than saturated fats, monounsaturated fats, and omega-6 fatty acids.

    Current research implicates endothelial dysfunction as the initial event in atherosclerosis. Sugar causes oxidative stress, which in turn causes endothelial dysfunction. The etiology of atherosclerosis is not as simple as good vs. bad fats, and it may well be that both sugar and saturated fats are important risk factors in causing cardiovascular disease.

  • Hilda Foley

    I am a vegetarian because I don’t want to see animals abused and /or killed, There got to be a
    better solution for people like us since as you describe margarine, it is also unacceptable for
    anyone to eat. Any suggestions??

  • Hilda Foley

    I am a vegetarian because I don’t want to see animals abused and /or killed, There got to be a
    better solution for people like us since as you describe margarine, it is also unacceptable for
    anyone to eat. Any suggestions??

  • Is there much Rbgh in butter, The hormones they give cows to make more milk?
    Is butter still better if its not organic?
    Help with this question would be greatly appreciated.
    thankyou, mp

  • Is there much Rbgh in butter, The hormones they give cows to make more milk?
    Is butter still better if its not organic?
    Help with this question would be greatly appreciated.
    thankyou, mp

  • Mr. Matthew Peters

    The corn and soybeans that are used to make margarine are almost all genetically modified. About one third of the world’s tonnage of pesticides goes on cotton. Since cotton is not a “food crop”, these pesticides are particularly unfriendly to life. I wouldn’t eat anything containing cottonseed oil.

    Thank you for the great article; Matt

  • Mr. Matthew Peters

    The corn and soybeans that are used to make margarine are almost all genetically modified. About one third of the world’s tonnage of pesticides goes on cotton. Since cotton is not a “food crop”, these pesticides are particularly unfriendly to life. I wouldn’t eat anything containing cottonseed oil.

    Thank you for the great article; Matt

  • For most of my 70 years, starting as a child, I have preferred butter. During that time, we have tried a few different kinds of margarine and never found them palatable. Butter is the way to go along with Avocado, Olive and Coconut oils for cooking and food preparation. Unfortunately, a lot of restaurants have switched to margarine. It makes one wonder what else is in their food. These are places to avoid.

  • For most of my 70 years, starting as a child, I have preferred butter. During that time, we have tried a few different kinds of margarine and never found them palatable. Butter is the way to go along with Avocado, Olive and Coconut oils for cooking and food preparation. Unfortunately, a lot of restaurants have switched to margarine. It makes one wonder what else is in their food. These are places to avoid.

  • Convinced

    Since I started eating butter, my cholesterol reading has gone down by 200 points. And it really DOES taste better!

  • Convinced

    Since I started eating butter, my cholesterol reading has gone down by 200 points. And it really DOES taste better!