Butter is Good for your Health

by Pankaj Kotak, M.Sc., N.D.


Butter is a very important fat in our diet which enhances the immune system, protects us from many degenerative diseases, makes bones stronger, improves thyroid and gastrointestinal health, and strengthens the brain. Butter is a rich source of fat soluble vitamins A, D & E. Vitamin A and E are powerful antioxidants, both of which help in proper functioning of the heart and cardiovascular system. Vitamin D is a strong immune booster which prevents cancer and autoimmune disorders. These vitamins from butter are easily absorbed and assimilated in our body.

It is a good dietary source of cholesterol. You may be surprised to know that cholesterol is a powerful anti-oxidant and our body uses it to heal itself (1). Our body produces 3 to 4 times more cholesterol than we eat. 100 gm of butter contains about 214 mg cholesterol. It promotes health of the intestinal wall and protects against cancer of the colon (2). Cholesterol in butterfat also plays an important role in the development of the brain and nervous system (3). It is a highly saturated fat. The high saturation prevents it from rancidity caused by oxygen, light and heat. This makes it a good fat for cooking purposes. Highly unsaturated vegetable oils such as corn, soybean and safflower oil go rancid when used in cooking. These rancid oils are a major cause of heart disease and many degenerative diseases such as cancer, arthritis, and diabetes, among others (4).

12-15% of butter is special types of fats called short and medium chain fatty acids (SCFA & MCFA) which are highly anti-microbial and provide protection against bacteria, viruses and fungi (5). These SCFA and MCFA types of saturated fat do not require a complex breakdown in the stomach; rather, it is absorbed directly to the liver, from the small intestine, where it is quickly converted into energy. Butterfat contains glycospingolipids, a special type of fatty acid that protect against gastro-intestinal infection, especially in children and the elderly. This is why children who drink skimmed milk have diarrhea at rates three to five times greater than children who drink whole milk (6). Considering so many health benefits offered by butter, it is no surprise that Dr. Weston Price, who extensively studied the diets of many native people in the 1930's, found that people who consumed butter regularly enjoyed great health (7).

References

  1. Ravnskov U. The Cholesterol Myths. New Trends Publishing. 2000.
  2. Addis P. Food and Nutrition News. March/April 1990;62:2:7-10.
  3. Mary Enig, PhD, and Sally Fallon. The truth about saturated fats.
  4. Pinckney ER., and others. The Cholesterol Controversy. Sherbourne Press. 1973;127-131.
  5. Kabara JJ. The Pharmacological Effects of Lipids. The American Oil Chemists Society. 1978;1-14.
  6. Koopman JS., and others. American Journal of Public Health. 1984;74(12):1371-1373.
  7. Price W. Nutrition and Physical Degeneration. Price Pottenger Nutrition Foundation. 1945.

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