Fresh butter

Butter is not so bad for your health

For some time saturated fat has been considered unhealthy and foods like butter that contain it have been recommended to be consumed sparingly. However, in recent times it has been suggested that saturated fat might not be the food demon that we thought it was. In light of all this a new meta-analysis of research into the Health impact of butter is timely.

In recent times, it has been suggested that saturated fat might not be the food demon that we thought it was.

The study comes from Tufts University, Boston and involved a review of nine previous studies that included 636,151 people in 15 countries followed for a total of 6.5 million person years. For the study an average daily consumption of butter was considered to be 14 grams, which is about one tablespoon and equates to just over three servings.

The analysis showed that each daily serving of butter was linked with a minimal increase in risk of cardiovascular disease. However, butter consumption was not linked at all with overall death risk and it was associated with a reduced risk of developing diabetes.

If you wanted to summarise that it might be that a little bit of butter, in moderation, is not bad for you. The problem with butter is more likely the foods associated with it such as white bread and the fact that eating a lot of butter tends to be associated with a generally less healthy lifestyle. The real value of the study though lies in reminding us that you can’t understand something by looking at isolated components of it. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts and if you want to know how a food affects us you need to look at the effects of the food, not analysis of the biochemical effects of its constituents. In the case of butter, in addition to saturated fat it might contain other ingredients that interact with and modify the effects of saturated fat.

It is another reminder that to truly understand anything you need to see it as a whole.

Terry Robson

Terry Robson

Terry Robson is the Editor-in-Chief of WellBeing and the Editor of EatWell.

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