What to Buy Next Time You’re at the Store: Real Butter

Most of my work with clients helps them make small, manageable changes that they can stick with over time. None of us got to our current state of health overnight, and we can’t expect ourselves to switch to a pristine whole-foods diet overnight either. My clients are happy when they’ve made new, lasting habits that fit their lifestyle, and seeing those changes stick is what makes my work fulfilling.

From time to time I’d like to share small changes you can make that will lead you to better health. I’ll suggest something you can buy next time you’re at the store. It may be something you’ve never had, or it may be a replacement for something you’re currently using. Today’s topic is likely a good example of that: real butter.

When I advise clients to toss out margarine and eat more real butter they are thrilled to hear it! Everybody loves butter. Unfortunately, many people (including me until about 3 years ago) eat margarine because they believe it is healthier. Nothing could be further from the truth. Margarine is a modern invention made through intensive processing, plus added color and flavorings, of course.

I thought I was making the healthiest choice by buying non-hydrogenated margarine. Avoiding both those awful trans-fats and saturated fat. As I’ve now learned, those margarines aren’t the health food they are marketed to be. In a 2007 study by K.C. Hayes at Brandeis University, the metabolic impact of naturally saturated fat in palm oil was compared to hydrogenated soybean oil and non-hydrogenated soybean oil. The study found that both versions of soybean oil raised blood sugar levels, insulin resistance, and lowered HDL cholesterol. Only the palm oil didn’t change metabolism for the worse.

Butter has a long track record of keeping people healthy and procreating for thousands of years.

The nutrition in butter is naturally occurring, not from added synthetic vitamins. It contains the important fat-soluble vitamins: A, D, E, and K in forms that are easy for your body to absorb. These are essential to the health of your bones, brain, nervous, immune, and reproductive systems. Fat-soluble vitamins are crucial in the absorption of minerals, which is why butter is traditionally slathered on veggies. Butter from pasture-raised cows contains conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) which has been studied for its anti-cancer effects and ability to stimulate weight loss and muscle gain. It also turns out that we need saturated fat for a healthy brain.

Quality is important when consuming any animal product. Your freshest choice is always from your local dairy followed by organic butter from cows raised on open pastures.

There you have it. One simple change that can bring you better health and move you towards a diet filled with whole foods. It also happens to be super-delicious.

Now go buy some butter!

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