Ancel Keys

Why Butter is Better

I have been following the progress of Sean Perkey in his blog Watch My Loss. His goal is to lose half his body weight (250 lbs.), and to raise $50,000 for diabetes research in the process. Not only is this amazing in and of itself, he has a very entertaining writing style, and it has been wonderful getting to "know" him a bit through his blog. If you would like to help encourage him, feel free to drop him a comment over there. (Talk about accountability partner--he went for a team!)

In the process of being a "Watcher", as he calls his readers, I have done some additional research on certain types of food that I would like to share with you, my own readers. I will be doing a series over the next few weeks on some of the information I've come across. (Not every day--about once a week, or something. So for those of you who find this insufferably dry, and say "bring on more pictures of your cute kids!" just skip that day, 'kay?)


Okay, first of all, I would like to point out two of the posts I've already put up about fat processing: Extraction and Hydrogenation. If this doesn't gross you out so much that you never want to have margarine again, I don't know what will.

Now, on to why you should have butter:

First off, we have been lied to. Our government and elected officials--shockingly--do not have our best interests in mind the majority of the time with the things they allow "experts" to let us believe. Why do I say this?

Since the beginning of time, butter and butter-like products have sustained peoples all over the world. In the Bible, "curds" (which Dr. Jordan Rubin believes is a mis-translation of a word that means something very similar to "butter") is mentioned several times--Abraham offers "curds and milk" to the angels that visited him, as one example. (Genesis 18:8). Dr. Weston Price found that the healthiest groups of people he studied treasured butter for the valuable nutritional properties it carried. From an article called "Why Butter Is Better" on the Weston A. Price Foundation site:

When Dr. Weston Price studied native diets in the 1930's he found that butter was a staple in the diets of many supremely healthy peoples. Isolated Swiss villagers placed a bowl of butter on their church altars, set a wick in it, and let it burn throughout the year as a sign of divinity in the butter. Arab groups also put a high value on butter, especially deep yellow-orange butter from livestock feeding on green grass in the spring and fall. American folk wisdom recognized that children raised on butter were robust and sturdy; but that children given skim milk during their growing years were pale and thin, with "pinched" faces.

Does butter cause disease? On the contrary, butter protects us against many diseases.

So when did we start believing that butter, and saturated fats, were the root of all our bodies' evils?

Margarine was invented in 1869 by a French scientist, Hippolyte Mege-Mouries, originally using beef fat and pig gastric juices. Much cheaper than butter to make, with a much larger profit margin, it was touted by food processing companies as "better than butter." However, it did not take hold in America until around the 1950's, when they figured out how to make it from domestic vegetable oils. Thanks to Ancel Keys and his faulty Lipid Hypothesis, health-conscious Americans (and Canadians too, I'm betting) started buying it in droves, thinking they were doing their bodies a favour.

Butter was made out to be the enemy, due to it's high saturated fat content. Margarine was the champion spread of those trying to prevent heart disease. Meanwhile, the food processing industry was laughing all the way to the bank.

Consider this:

Heart disease was rare in America at the turn of the century. Between 1920 and 1960, the incidence of heart disease rose precipitously to become America's number one killer. During the same period butter consumption plummeted from eighteen pounds per person per year to four. It doesn't take a Ph.D. in statistics to conclude that butter is not a cause. Actually butter contains many nutrients that protect us from heart disease. First among these is vitamin A which is needed for the health of the thyroid and adrenal glands, both of which play a role in maintaining the proper functioning of the heart and cardiovascular system. Abnormalities of the heart and larger blood vessels occur in babies born to vitamin A deficient mothers. Butter is America's best and most easily absorbed source of vitamin A.

Butter contains lecithin, a substance that assists in the proper assimilation and metabolism of cholesterol and other fat constituents.

Butter also contains a number of anti-oxidants that protect against the kind of free radical damage that weakens the arteries. Vitamin A and vitamin E found in butter both play a strong anti-oxidant role. Butter is a very rich source of selenium, a vital anti-oxidant—containing more per gram than herring or wheat germ.*

Also--NEWS FLASH!!--our bodies need saturated fat! Please see this post.

Here's some more facts and figures for you:

  • Margarine eaters have twice the rate of heart disease as butter eaters (Nutrition Week 3/22/91 21:12).
  • The fatty acids found in artery clogs are mostly unsaturated, not saturated. (The Lancet 1994 344:1195)
  • Butter is a natural fat, made from cream. Margarine is an artificial concoction of chemicals. Not only does butter taste better, but it's good for you. Butter is a source of fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K, and important trace minerals magnesium, zinc, chromium, selenium and iodine. (Taking The Fear Out of Eating Fat)
  • Butter is also a good dietary source cholesterol. What?? Cholesterol an anti-oxidant?? Yes indeed, cholesterol is a potent anti-oxidant that is flooded into the blood when we take in too many harmful free-radicals—usually from damaged and rancid fats in margarine and highly processed vegetable oils. A Medical Research Council survey showed that men eating butter ran half the risk of developing heart disease as those using margarine. (Why Butter Is Better)
  • When research was done in the 1940's about saturated fats causing cancer, researchers lumped in the naturally saturated fats of butter with the artificially hardened fats of margarine and shortening. However, "when researchers from the University of Maryland analyzed the data used to make such claims, they found that vegetable fat consumption was correlated with high rates of cancer and animal fat was not." (Nourishing Traditions, Sally Fallon and Mary G. Enig, Ph.D.)
  • Eating fats not only make your foods taste better, but they help you lose weight. "Fat actually sends a signal to your brain to tell you when to stop eating. So, if you don't get enough fat in a meal, you will never feel completely satisfied and will usually end up overeating." Low-fat diets also usually end up being high-carb and low-protein, both of which make you gain weight, instead of losing it. (Taking The Fear Out of Eating Fat)

If you have the time, please read the following articles for more information:

The Truth About Saturated Fat
Why Butter Is Better
Making the Transition: Taking the Fear out of Eating Fat

For my own part, I switched to a "natural fat" diet over a year ago. I was three months pregnant with my third child. I started using only whole milk and whipping cream (of which I used plenty, due to my tea habit and how much I love cream soups). Butter was already a staple in my house, but I switched to organic, and--more recently--to raw organic butter, which I use in nearly all of my cooking, plus try to eat plenty every day, even if it's just on some sprouted-grain toast. We eat plenty of (home-made) yogurt that is made from whole milk. I have a whole-milk kefir shake nearly every day. I abolished canola, peanut, corn, safflower, and all other rancid and oxidized vegetable oils from my house, substituting them with Extra Virgin Coconut Oil (another saturated fat with wonderful health-promoting qualities, which I have a tablespoon of every day in my shake), cold-pressed Extra Virgin Olive Oil, organic Flax Oil, and occasionally some expeller-expressed sunflower oil (which I mix with Olive Oil to make mayo to temper the strong flavour.) And have I gained weight? Have I ballooned up like a puffer fish that just found out his teenage daughter is pregnant?

No! In fact, my body slimmed down while I was pregnant, yet I delivered a full-term, 8 lb. baby, who is healthy as a baby should be. After the pregnancy was over, I did not reduce my fat intake, but kept it right up as I was breast-feeding, yet I slimmed down to a size and weight I thought I would never see again--one I passed sometime in high school.

Eat fat to lose fat? Try it. You'll like it.

Lipid hypothesis-previous sidebar post

Lipid hypothesis-previous sidebar post

The theory--called the lipid hypothesis--that there is a direct relationship between the amount of saturated fat and cholesterol in the diet and the incidence of coronary heart disease was proposed by a researcher named Ancel Keys in the late 1950s.