Spread the news: Butter may not be the unhealthy food many Americans believe it to be, new research suggests. However, that doesn’t mean that butter provides any real health benefit, the researchers were quick to add.
“Overall, our results suggest that butter should neither be demonized nor considered ‘back’ as a route to good health,” study senior author Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian, dean of the Tufts University School of Nutrition Science and Policy in Boston, said in a university news release.
His team’s review of the data on butter and health found no significant rise in risk of death or heart disease for people who favored the spread.
On nutritionist said her views on butter remain unchanged, however.
“Despite the findings of this study, I am not about to make a huge shift in the recommendations I make about consumption,” said Dana White. She is a dietitian and professor of sports medicine at Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Conn.
“Butter remains a very high-calorie and high-fat food with little nutrient density to offer, and therefore still needs to be consumed in strict moderation,” White said.
The new study was funded by the U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Mozaffarian’s team reviewed data from nine studies that included more than 636,000 people living in 15 countries.
Average butter consumption for individuals in the study ranged from about one-third of a serving to just over three servings per day. One serving equals about one tablespoon of butter, the team said.
The findings showed that eating butter was only weakly associated with increased risk of premature death and not associated at all with heart disease. There was a slight association with protection against diabetes, the study found.
“Even though people who eat more butter generally have worse diets and lifestyles, it seemed to be pretty neutral overall,” said study co-leader Laura Pimpin, a former postdoctoral fellow at Tuft’s School of Nutrition and Policy. She is now a data analyst in public health modeling for the U.K. Health Forum.
Like Dana White, I am not making a “huge shift in the recommendations I make about consumption” of butter – I have always recommended it. She is right that it is high-calorie, high-fat, and low nutrient dense, but it’s the healthy fats in butter that I’m after.
The bad rap on fat was and continues to be a farce designed to sell margarine, statin drugs and by-pass surgery. You want an unhealthy food – just substitute margarine for butter and watch the risk of heart attack soar. The use of modified trans fats to lower the total fat in our diet has been driving up the risk of heart disease in this nation for a generation.
The Bottom Line:
Eat butter, in moderation, but avoid margarine or any other processed “low-fat” or “reduced fat” foods. Butter may even make up for some of those other dietary indiscretions.
Source: June 29, 2016 National Institutes of Health