Butter may not be as bad for you as you think

Butter may not be as bad for you as you think

Finally, some good news for butter lovers! After years of hearing how butter is the root of all evil when it comes to your diet, a new study suggests that butter may be margarine-ly better than once thought.

Admittedly, butter is high in saturated fat. Because of that, it’s often linked to heart disease and death, but researchers at Tufts University found a more neutral effect.

Using data from previous studies, researchers examined the links between butter consumption and health risks in 636,151 total participants. The results suggested there was only a small or neutral link between butter and heart disease or mortality.

“Even though people who eat more butter generally have worse diets and lifestyles, it seemed to be pretty neutral overall,” said lead researcher Laura Pimpin, Ph.D., in a press release. “This suggests that butter may be a ‘middle-of-the-road’ food: a more healthful choice than sugar or starch, such as the white bread or potato on which butter is commonly spread and which have been linked to higher risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease; and a worse choice than many margarines and cooking oils – those rich in healthy fats such as soybean, canola, flaxseed and extra virgin olive oils – which would likely lower risk compared with either butter or refined grains, starches and sugars.”

The study concluded the findings do not support a need for major emphasis on either increasing or decreasing butter consumption in dietary guidelines, in comparison to other better-established dietary priorities.

As usual, it all comes down to moderation.

“Research is starting to show butter is not the evil food we thought it to be,” says Robin Rinker, a registered dietitian at Advocate BroMenn Medical Center in Normal, Ill.  “Moderation — use on top of toast, muffins, etc. — is key.”

Rinker agrees that oils are a healthier choice for cooking and baking. But butter is no longer the whipping boy it once was for dietitians.

“Butter’s bad reputation stemmed from the fact that early on in research, the types of fat in butter where thought harmful to us,” says Rinker.  “As we learn more about types of fats and their effects on the body, butter, like eggs, is now welcomed back into our diet — in moderation.”

That’s a pat on the back for butter lovers.

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  1. Dr. Ashwani Garg

    No one got healthy, improved their heart disease or diabetes from eating butter. This article is misguided. An eating plan based on wholesome, minimally processed foods that are dominated by fruits, veggies, whole grains, beans, and nuts and seeds is the way to health. I suggest getting fats from whole unprocessed plant sources such as nuts, seeds, and unprocessed soy products such as tofu, tempeh, edamame, and soy milk. Butter has NO ROLE in a healthy diet.

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health enews Staff
health enews Staff

health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Health Care sites, also including freelance or intern writers.