Friday, July 30, 2010

Can You Be Healthy and Eat Butter?

The Skinny on Butter

Growing up it was not rare for me to eat a spoonful of butter, spread butter on saltine crackers for a snack or eat a butter and white bread sandwich. My mom would buy the “tub butter” because it was “healthier” than the “real butter” our grandparents used. Little did she know, or other baby boomers at the time, that the plasticized margarine was full of hydrogenated oils called “trans fats” which are now labeled the most dangerous fats, not only elevating our bad cholesterol, but decreasing our good cholesterol.
What’s the real story on butter?

Butter has been around for thousands of years. The Bible has references to butter as the products of milk from the cow. People all over the world have been using butter and praising it for its amazing health benefits. How did butter become a villain in the quest for good health?

At the turn of the century (when there was no margarine and LIMITED PROCESSED FOODS), heart disease was rare in America. By 1960, it was our number one killer. Ironically, our consumption of butter decreased from eighteen pounds per person per year, to four but our consumption of processed foods has skyrocketed. A researcher named Ancel Keys was the first to propose that saturated fat and cholesterol in the diet (both of which are in butter and other animal products) were to blame for coronary heart disease (CAD). It’s weird that these types of foods have been a main staple for centuries … unlike Twinkies, Cheetos and Diet Sodas that are now our main staples.

The belief was built (on little concrete research) that fat is bad. Fat makes you fat. Eat fat and it turns into fat. Fat is the culprit behind obesity, heart disease and diabetes. The market became bombarded with low-fat/no-fat processed foods that made us feel we were safe from the side effects of fat on our health and waist line. We increased the consumption of these processed foods, most of which contained partially hydrogenated oils (Trans fats) as well as being completely devoid of the nutrition our body needs to protect against disease. Could the correlation of disease be due to the movement away from whole foods which protect our health to convenient processed foods that simply fill us with empty calories?

As I began learningThe Healthy Edge lifestyle, more and more research led me to challenge the belief system I had around fat. I had been conditioned for years that a healthy diet is one of minimal fat, particularly saturated fat from animal products.

After looking into the research, it is widely accepted and proven that a variety of healthy dietary fats work to supply your body with essential fatty acids for longevity, hormone balance, heart health, sharp vision, glowing moist skin and energy. It’s ironic that when I was eating to avoid fat I suffered from adult acne, depression, mood swings and a lack of energy. Coincidence? I think not.

Margarine or Butter?

It is a tragic myth that Margarine and other processed butter products are better than butter. Butter is a completely natural food that can be very beneficial to your health-especially when you eat raw and organic butter.

Margarines and similar hydrogenated or processed polyunsaturated oils are created chemically. The process used to make these normally liquid oils into spreadable form is called hydrogenation. There are non-hydrogenated margarines that claim to contain no Trans fats but have added “modified” (what does that mean?) palm and palm kernel oil to increase its spread ability.

Below are some of the amazing benefits of raw, organic butter:

1) It is rich in the most easily absorbable form of Vitamin A necessary for thyroid and adrenal health.

2) Contains lauric acid, important in treating fungal infections and Candida.

3) Contains lecithin, essential for cholesterol metabolism.

4) Contains antioxidants that protect against free radical damage.

5) Have antioxidants that protect against weakening arteries.

6) Great source of Vitamins E and K.

7) Saturated fats in butter had strong anti-tumor and anti-cancer properties.

8) Contains conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), which is a potent anti-cancer agent, muscle builder, immunity booster and inhibits the body’s mechanism for storing body fat. It actually causes the body to utilize fatty reserves for energy!

9) May promote fertility in women.

10) Protects against gastrointestinal infections in the very young or the elderly.

These are just ten benefits of butter. There are many more. The best butter to eat is raw, organic butter because pasteurization destroys nutrients. Unfortunately, the sale of raw butter is prohibited in most states in the US. You can make your own or please buy butter from grass-fed animals only. What animals are fed has a strong correlation to what nutrients are in the milk and therefore what nutrients will be in the butter that is produced. For example, cows fed processed grains or dry hay will not have conjugated linoleic acids (CLA’s) in their milk.

How much is too much?

Just because there are health benefits to butter doesn’t mean that quantity doesn’t matter. Butter is a condiment, not a main course. Butter can accentuate food, but it’s not the focus of the food. You also want to be aware of what you are eating the butter WITH. Are you eating it with a huge processed muffin full of sugar, enriched flours and artificial preservatives? Are you eating a half of stick with a loaf of bread brought to your table at an Italian restaurant? Are you using two sticks of butter in grandma’s chocolate cookies that you decide to consume over the course of a day or two? That’s NOT what we are talking about! Butter is often associated with comfort foods that are detrimental to our health or foods that should be consumed in moderation (perhaps holidays or special occasions). But butter can also add flavor to a variety of vegetables such as corn, squash, red potatoes and green beans. Butter also adds flavor to oatmeal and sprouted whole grain breads. Use reasonable amounts and pay attention to serving sizes! The healthier your body is, the less you will notice you need to add additional flavor to your food.

The quality of the product makes a big difference as well, since the higher the quality, the better it will be for you. Remember, butter is one form of healthy fats that can be added to your lifestyle. There are also a variety of plant oils that can be used for cooking such as olive, grapeseed, almond and sunflower oil. The Healthy Edge Cookbook can support you in recipes that use these healthy oils.

We have entered a time where we have been given permission to be less rigid about eliminating fats or carbs from our lifestyle. Balance is the key. In addition to balance, we can choose whole foods that keep our bodies free of additives, preservatives and other chemicals that are detrimental to our health. The Healthy Edge supports families in transitioning to this type of lifestyle by explaining the how’s and why’s in a fun, empowering and interactive way. Learn how to be proactive in your health without sacrificing taste, time or money! Make a shift that can change your future and the future of your family.

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