Is Butter Good to Eat?

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By: Stephanie Jean

Butter, along with other sources of saturated fats are landing back into the American diet1. Nearly 40 years ago, the Senate Select Committee on Nutrition and Human Health recommended that Americans follow a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol to decrease the risk of heart/cardiovascular disease1. These recommendations greatly impacted the increase of low-fat and fat-free processed foods that replaced carbohydrates, mainly sugars and refined starch, which the body uses as sugar1. As a result, obesity and Type 2 diabetes escalated significantly1. Dr. Boris Hansel, an endocrinologist-nutritionist, described butter as a food with high saturated fat, and consumption on a regular basis promotes increased blood cholesterol levels1. However, Dr. Hansel proclaimed that it should be considered a pleasurable food that should be consumed in moderate amounts, and not with other foods that are high in saturated fatty acids1. Instead of pointing fingers at saturated fats, Dr. Hansel suggested that more attention be given to overconsumption of simple and refined carbs1. Foods such as white bread, white rice, and potatoes promote obesity and may reverse the decline in cardiovascular disease1. Recently, I have been grabbing the stick of butter more often than I do for less saturated options, such as olive oil. Maybe it is the holiday cheer, but November and December are undoubtedly the months where I lean towards some unhealthier options. There are times where you want to incorporate a fat that is creamier and saltier, and butter just seems to fit the mold so effortlessly. A piece of warm whole wheat grain toast with softened butter is always sure to satisfy. However, it is even more important to make healthier and wiser swaps for healthier saturated fats. For instance, the butters and margarines that are labeled as “fat free”, “light”, or “reduced fat”, are always a brow raiser for me. It is very likely that these products are swapped with other ingredients to replace the “whole products” found in pure butter. If it is the pure butter taste that I truly desire, I reach for the butter rather than the other questionable butter counterparts. Either way, it is always recommended to read the nutritional label to know exactly what is going into our bodies.

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Healthier saturated fats, such as olive oil, coconut oil, and avocado oil, include an abundance of benefits for metabolic absorption in the body. Also, the Mediterranean diet is rich in olive oil and nuts, but low in saturated fats1. These are just a few options for those who wish to decrease their intake of saturated fats and incorporate more variety into their diet.

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