Is Butter Bad For Your Health?


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A review of nine studies involving more than 600,000 participants found that butter was only weakly related to total mortality and had no correlation to cardiovascular disease at all. In fact butter even seemed to protect slightly, against diabetes.


In the past few years multiple studies have found that butter is unlikely to increase the risk of stroke, heart disease or diabetes. This finding comes as a shock as dieticians have traditionally advised people to cut down on animal fats.


Researchers have found that butter was a neutral food that was unlikely to do much harm, but people could lower the risk of heart problems by switching to healthy fats such as extra-virgin olive oil. The real danger, they warned, might be in the foods normally associated with butter such as bread and potatoes.


“Even though people who eat more butter generally have worse diets and lifestyles, it seemed to be pretty neutral overall,” said Dr Pimpin, now a data analyst in public health modelling for the UK Health Forum.


“This suggests that butter may be a neutral 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.”


The bad reputation of butter goes back to the 1950’s when research suggested a link between high dietary fat intake and deaths from heart disease. The study author however drew his conclusions on data from six countries which supported his hypothesis, choosing to ignore the data from the other 16 which did not agree with him.


Despite the contradiction, the research was published and since the 1970’s most public health organizations have recommended people cut down on fat. Dr Dariush Mozaffarian, dean of the Friedman School added: “Overall, our results suggest that butter should neither be demonized nor considered as a route to good health.”


“More research is needed to better understand the observed potential lower risk of diabetes, which has also been suggested in some other studies of dairy fat. This could be real, or due to other factors linked to eating butter.”


This doesn’t mean that you can suddenly eat large amounts of butter however. While the findings of the study indicate a small or no correlation between butter consumption and cardiovascular disease, it does not mean it is ok to start eating more butter. More investigation is needed to understand the effects of saturated fat. To protect your health it is still important to eat a balanced and healthy diet.


A version of this article appeared in the Daily Mail UK on February, 2015, with the headline ‘Butter ISN’T Bad For You After All’.


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