For decades, saturated fat and cholesterol have been dubbed the forbidden fruit of any healthy diet. Fat clogs your arteries, cholesterol causes heart attacks, and fat makes you fat – or so we were told.
Recommendations to avoid saturated fat and cholesterol consumption were first issued by the US government in the 1970’s when research seemed to suggest their linking with heart related diseases. However, despite swift adoption, the evidence was criticized as inconclusive. Even today, research has been done which now discredits the studies that led to this shift in dietary theory (read more about this here). In fact, new studies are beginning to argue that there is actually no correlation between saturated fat consumption and disease.
Ironically, both saturated fat and cholesterol are critical for many of the body’s normal functions.
Fats make up nearly 60% of our brain and are crucial in determining brain performance and integrity.
Our bodies utilize cholesterol to make hormones, generate vitamin D from sun exposure and to produce bile acids for digestion. Fats are also the most important building block for our cellular membranes- the walls that surround our cells. Fats are very important.
Thanks to this debunked dietary myth, many people are keeping an open mind when it comes to previously black listed foods. This is one reason why butter is back as one of the trendiest ingredients in the wellness world today. Butter coffee, butter bombs, fat balls and more…
But can butter really be good for you?
The answer is YES. But like most things, this depends on the quality and the source. Do not mistake this to mean that a tablespoon of margarine or Land O Lakes is going to work any miracles for you. Trans fats or ingredients commonly made with GMOs like canola oil should still be avoided with a ten-foot pole. However, high quality, grass-fed REAL butter or ghee does have major benefits! Here are a few highlights-
Increased energy & appetite regulation
Butyrate, a primary fatty acid found in butter, has been shown to enhance energy levels through mitochondrial function, regulate appetite and thus promote weight loss. YES, butter can contribute to weight loss (whatt)! This is one benefit I can speak to from experience. I started drinking butter coffee every morning about a year ago and I will say that I definitely feel both of these benefits every time. This is why I love butter coffee as a pre-workout drink or to sip on during intermittent fasting.
Fights digestive disorders and promotes a healthy gut
Butyrate is also known for its ability to fight a multitude of digestive disorders like leaky gut syndrome, Crohn’s disease and IBS. Butyrate fights inflammation and helps to maintain the integrity of our intestinal lining.
Butter is rich in fat-soluble vitamins
- Vitamin A- a potent antioxidant that helps to neutralize toxins in the body
- Vitamin K- critical for ensuring strong bones and promotes a healthy heart
- Vitamin D- critical for ensuring strong bones, helps maintain healthy blood sugar levels, enhances immunity, and much more
- Vitamin E- another potent antioxidant that slows aging and helps to maintain healthy cholesterol levels
So, what type of butter should you buy? When selecting butter, organic, grass-fed ghee is always best.
Think of ghee as a more “filtered” version of butter. It’s also known as “clarified butter.” Ghee is more nutrient dense than butter and lactose and casein free. This makes ghee a great choice for anyone sensitive to dairy. Another benefit of ghee over butter is its higher smoke point. This means you can cook with ghee at higher temperatures without burning it (burned oils are toxic for you- only cook with oils or fats with a high smoke point). Purchase my favorite ghee here.
Not only does butter pack a powerful punch of nutrients, but it tastes great too. Like many, my favorite way to enjoy butter is in coffee.
Listen to your body
Before making butter coffee your new daily, be sure to try it a time or two and see how it makes you feel. Regardless of the supporting science and nutrition profile, everyone is different. First and foremost, listen to your body!
- Harcombe Z, Baker JS, Cooper SM, et al. Evidence from randomised controlled trials did not support the introduction of dietary fat guidelines in 1977 and 1983: a systematic review and meta-analysis Open Heart 2015;2:doi: 10.1136/openhrt-2014-000196
- Chang, C.-Y., Ke, D.-S., & Chen, J.-Y. (2009). Essential fatty acids and human brain. Acta Neurologica Taiwanica, 18(4), 231–241.
- Siri-Tarino, P. W., Sun, Q., Hu, F. B., & Krauss, R. M. (2010). Meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies evaluating the association of saturated fat with cardiovascular disease. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, ajcn.27725. https://doi.org/10.3945/ajcn.2009.27725
- Gao, Z., Yin, J., Zhang, J., Ward, R. E., Martin, R. J., Lefevre, M., … Ye, J. (2009). Butyrate improves insulin sensitivity and increases energy expenditure in mice. Diabetes, 58(7), 1509–1517. https://doi.org/10.2337/db08-1637
- Byrne, C. S., Chambers, E. S., Morrison, D. J., & Frost, G. (2015). The role of short chain fatty acids in appetite regulation and energy homeostasis. International Journal of Obesity (2005), 39(9), 1331–1338. https://doi.org/10.1038/ijo.2015.84