When you hear the word superfood, kale or acai might come to mind, but you probably didn't think about butter. For the past 50 years or so, we’ve been told that butter — although delicious — will clog your arteries and can lead to a heart attack, but new research says this isn’t true. Butter, it turns out, can be considered a healthy food, and here are five reasons why.
Butter boosts your metabolism.
Here’s the deal: Butter contains a short-chain, fatty acid called butyrate that your body breaks down quickly. Your cells use it as a source of energy, so it’s almost never stored as fat, according to Charles Carpenter, M.D., founder and medical director of the Sacramento Center for Health and Healing. Research has shown that eating a diet rich in short-chain, fatty acids can increase your fat burning ability, boost your metabolism, and help improve muscle function. Butter is a also good source of iodine, a nutrient that supports the health of your thyroid, which regulates your metabolism. Put simply: If you eat fat, you’ll lose fat.
Butter helps fight cancer.
Butyrate may have the ability to kill cancer cells in the colon, and some scientists think it could one day be used to treat conditions like Crohn's disease, too. Butter also contains a compound called conjugated linoleic acid, which has shown promise fighting breast cancer. Butter makes veggies more nutritious.
Some of the most important nutrients in vegetables are fat-soluble — such as vitamins A, D, E, and K and disease-fighting compounds like lycopene and lutein. This means you need to consume them alongside some fat for your body to absorb them properly. A Swedish study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health found that fruits and vegetables don’t lower the risk of coronary heart disease unless they were eaten with high-fat dairy products.
Butter builds strong bones.
If you’re of the "Got Milk" generation, you’ve heard a million times that calcium and vitamin D keep your bones strong. But, for some reason, one key nutrient got left out of the equation: vitamin K2. “Vitamin D helps put calcium into bones, but K2 keeps it there,” explains Dave Asprey, the man behind the bulletproof coffee trend, where people add a pat of butter to their morning cup of joe to boost energy and burn fat. He says that vitamin K2 ensures calcium will collect in your bones instead of your arteries. As you might have guessed, some of the best sources of K2 are high-fat dairy products, like butter. Butter helps balance your hormones.
Your sex and stress hormones — such as testosterone, estrogen, progesterone, cortisol, and adrenaline — steer all sorts of important processes in the body, including metabolism, libido, mood, and behavior. In order to make these hormones, your body needs cholesterol, which you can get from foods like eggs and butter.
You've probably heard that cholesterol is bad for you, but the latest research debunks the idea that dietary cholesterol increases your risk of heart disease. Also, butter is high in saturated fat, a nutrient that several studies have shown may boost hormone production and help your hormones function more efficiently. One intriguing Harvard School of Public Health study from several years ago found that eating high-fat, dairy products could help improve a woman’s fertility.
What type of butter should you buy?
Any butter at the grocery store will offer some of the vitamins and nutrients you need, but Asprey tells us that grass-fed butter is best. Several studies back him up. It is higher in minerals, omega-3 fatty acids, conjugated linoleic acid, and other good stuff. Finally, we have an excuse to slather our broccoli and carrots in butter.