The research explaining why butter is back reveals that there is no clear benefit from changing to margarine.
When there is contradictory research about a matter, it means that scientists just do not know the answer. They have not come up with conclusive evidence either for or against dairy products, for example.
So is it for milk and cream. Selective reporting can prove that it is bad, or good, depending on which axe you are grinding.
Updated on 9th March, 2023.
A group of scientists reporting in the prestigious Annals of Internal Medicine, after doing what is known as a meta-analysis of nearly 80 trials and studies, following over half a million patients, came to some very interesting conclusions.
In short there is absolutely no clear evidence that avoiding food high in saturated oils like butter, cheese and animal-fat makes you less vulnerable to heart and blood vessel disease.
And the corollary, there is no evidence that food high in polyunsaturated fats like margarine gives you protection against cardiovascular disease; in fact there is considerable research suggesting that it is highly inflammatory.
The margarine industry's emphatic advertising that changing from butter will protect your heart is utterly spurious; it is based on selective reporting. There is an equal amount of research proving just the contrary; it is fake news.
What was clear from observational studies was that monounsaturates from olive oil and avocados were the most protective; and the trans fatty-acids in hydrogenated foods caused the greatest damage.
You can have your butter and eat it providing you are enjoying a lunch like that above.
But if you are on one of the many ketogenic food plans I'd rather see you increasing the olive oil and avocados. I have serious difficulties that they make no distinction between white bread and that made with 100% real-flour, for example; chalk and cheese, but they are all lumped together as carbs.
Choice foods mean you can have your butter and eat it providing you are enjoying a lunch loaded with salads, some protein and olive oil; thank goodness margarine is history.
We do a lot of bread experiments with our cooking; for example the dough rises far better when using honey rather than sugar for the yeast. Baking with wholemeal is fun.
At around 25g of starch the salad plate above would be considered low carb, unless you are on a ketogenic meal plan. Research shows that it is particularly nutritious unless you replace the calories with protein and fat from animal origins. Look rather to hummus and avocado, and a moderate amount of butter.(1)
"Mortality increased when carbohydrates were exchanged for fat or protein derived from animals, and decreased when the substitutions were plant-based."
- Lancet, Sept 01, 2018.
The food companies love it when you buy refined white flour. Separately they can sell you the valuable part at great profit. The bran for the lignans that help protect the breast from neoplasms, the vitamins and wheat-germ oil; and minerals too. Their profits soar; rather enjoy whole foods.
Read about labeling from the whole grains council.
Butter is back suggests our taste buds were right all along. It is safe provided we are enjoying our greens too.
Notice the olive oil decanter; fruit fats are mainly monounsaturated which is why the people of the Mediterranean have a lower incidence of heart disease. Well, there may be other reasons too. Let us just say that it's one of the factors.
Extra-virgin olive oil is rich in phytosterols.
These are compounds that have a very similar structure to cholesterol, and compete with it for absorption in the gut. Lower down you will find a link giving more information about them. Or use the search this site function in the navigation bar.
Notice too the bread and butter, and a block of cheese; all eaten without guilt.
Butter is back is the new buzzword.
What are trans-fats?
Vegetable oils in nature are made of what is known as the cis-isomer; they are liquids.
Obviously you cannot easily smear a liquid on your bread so the food manufacturers have come up with a solution; hydrogenate the oil, turning half the fat into the trans-isomer.
Trans-fats have a much lower melting point and are solid at room temperature.
Margarines with a very few exceptions are fifty percent trans-fat.
There are no trans fats in nature; they are man-made and are closer to plastic. They certainly should not be called a food.
The particular interest to a DC, concerned about well-being, is that our nerves are coated in a myelin sheath that is mainly fat. Without it, they will not conduct.
"Researchers at Wake Forest University found that trans-fats, which are created by partially hydrogenated oil, increase obesity around the belly and redistribute the lard to the abdomen from other parts of the body.
Trans-fats may be found in such delectables as margarine, pastries and cookies; crackers, fried and convenience foods too."
- Web MD
The serious neurological diseases like multiple sclerosis are called demyelinating illnesses. They strip the fatty-sheath from our nerves; they are no longer able to conduct impulses.
We think it vital that our nerves are coated in normal fat, and not plastic, though I must add I know of no research indicating a connection between the trans-isomers and neurological diseases.
It is very irritating that manufacturers now add hydrogenated-oils even to otherwise nutritious foods like peanut butter and marmite; so that they are less runny and will not separate as easily.
Read labels and avoid hydrogenated foods. Mind you lies and statistics prevail everywhere.
On the other side, let us recognize that there is indeed strong evidence linking saturated animal fat with heart disease; this is particularly true when it is associated with abdominal obesity and a poor overall food plan. Mind you, many of those who love a richly marbled-steak also want to have french fries with it, and eschew salads.
At a recent family gathering of 30 persons there was one small green salad and another of potato. For the rest it was grilled meat, white hot dog rolls and Coke; and chips of one sort or another.
And it is certainly also significant when it is meat and potatoes; they are particularly low in those phytosterols. The starch in potatoes is known to have a very high glycemic index. They turn rapidly into glucose in the blood stream.
There is a gap that spud-lovers can take. New potatoes have far less starch and frankly are much nicer. You may have to grow them yourself.
In the absence of salad and fruit on our plates, the sources of the so-called phytochemical foods which compete with the cholesterol we have just eaten, high GI starches like pototoes raise the low density fats and blood sugar; that will not make for a heart-friendly scenario.
Butter is also a good source of beta-carotene, an important phytonutrient that is the precursor to vitamin A.
Enjoying a moderate amount of butter is another way, along with the yellow foods like carrots and butternut to make sure we do not develop a serious beta-carotene deficiency.
New potatoes are the exception; enjoying them before the tops are sprayed with Paraquat, and within three-days of being lifted, means they are far less likely to cause a spike in our blood glucose.
There were two other exceptions to these vague and contradictory findings.
# Do not think, because of its name, that it is a trans-fat; it is straight from the cow and has nothing to do with margarine.
On the other hand, in contradiction with other research, there was little to confirm the protection of fatty-fish and flax seed. Nutrition is complex and contradictory. Now we see through a glass darkly; in time all will be made plain.
Their conclusions are likely to confuse you, just as they have disturbed the medical world. Another researcher adds that there is little data to support previous guidelines recommending that we eat less saturated fat and more carbohydrate.
The glycemic index of winter squash is around the low 50 mark. Butter is back, so add a dab to your food and you'll reduce it even further.
What do we make of all this? Clearly scientists are not convinced that low fat is associated with a stronger heart; and, when combined with high refined carbohydrate, it's definitely aligned with serious neurological diseases.
Furthermore a high saturated fat meal plan is also not absolutely linked to heart conditions. It depends on what else we are eating.
There are other factors at work. Certainly it would seem we can enjoy coconut oil, high in saturated fat, without any doubts.
There is a new fad doing the rounds called banting; it has some merit in that its research removes the now unsubstantiated fear of animal fats. I go along with that suggestion provided you are eating plenty of fruit and salad.
Where I differ from them is that they forbid fruit like apples and
vegetables like butternut, except in very limited quantities, because of
their carbohydrate content; and legumes too.
They have not for example made a distinction between those eating butter along with mainly meat and potatoes, from folk enjoying dairy products along with a salad and fruit plate.
Make what you will of all this, but I will stick to plenty of olive oil, avocados and animal fat, with no fears because of a good body mass index; and also our added varied, ten-colours platters with ample beetroot, broccoli and sweet potatoes; spinach, pecan nuts and flaxseed too. We enjoy apples, grapes and as many different fruits as we can grow in our garden.
Grinding flax-seeds is vitally important; otherwise they are not digested, and pass straight through the bowel and may get caught in a fistula.
For the omnivores amongst us, the options are not difficult; fatty fish like salmon and sardines are fairly easy to get. But for vegetarians, the only simple source of large amounts of omega-3 is from grinding flax seeds yourself and adding them immediately to your breakfast cereal. The oils are oxidised as soon as the hull is cracked; they go rancid.
Freshly-cracked walnuts are great too.
Fish and flax actually produce different omega-3 fatty acids; it's best really to have both, then you can be sure of getting all the right stuff. From the whole seed, because of the added benefits of lignans and other phytonutrients, it is far more beneficial than the oil.
Butter also has an admittedly small amount of omega 3 but what is good is the even ratio with W-6. It is not inflammatory like margarine is.
These fatty-acids then are carried in the bloodstream and stored as triglycerides.
Olive-oil benefits are broadly acknowledged, provided it is not processed; look for that which burns at the back of the throat; not an alternative to butter, but in addition to.
Recognising that the science is giving us very confusing signals, we should follow our own instincts. One of those is that olive-oil was never banished to Coventry, and so has no need to come back; it is here to stay. But do choose the unprocessed extra virgin; it has the phytosterols that are so vital.
Whenever we start processing a food, it loses something. The monounsaturated fats of olives and avocados are mainly oleic acid, making them the Queens of the Mountain; the coconut is a more controversial contender to the throne.
Baking is so easy with the help of a bread-machine.
Bread and butter have been staples since time immemorial, but there are numerous problems associated with the commercial loaf. It's loaded with chemicals, sugar and salt. It has a high glycemic index; it is turned rapidly into blood-glucose giving an untoward insulin rush that makes it fattening too.
There is only one solution that I can think of; buy a bread-maker and spend five minutes every day baking your own artisan loaf. That's all it takes.
Better still add some protein and fat and then you have low GI bread. Butter is back; in your slice and on it. Having fun with homemade dips made with cream-cheese and olive oil will lower the glycemic index even further.
Just the smell of baking bread makes it all worthwhile.
If you are seriously overweight, then I go along with most of the tenets of the ketogenic diets but have some doubts. Read Banting rebuttal if you're interested; that means little or no bread until your BMI is under thirty. One of its big virtues is that you are not constantly hungry; quite the contrary, you feel satiated.
If you are going to take this imperative seriously then you might as well found out about 100 percent real flour while you are about it.
Hydrogenated-foods are highly toxic; it is a mercy that butter is back.
We alluded above to the dangers of trans-isomers; they are manufactured by hydrogenating good cis fats to make them solid at room temperature.
Margarine will not be back. Anything that tastes as bad must be awful. Butter is without a doubt, unlimited in my book, but only if you are eating food rich in vegetables, fruits and salads; the orange in butternut, the green in broccoli and the purple in beets.
Whilst I do not believe we can yet confidently describe butter as a choice food, it is certainly not as bad as margarine and a century ago, when our forebears were eating plenty of natural, unprocessed nosh and animal fat there was not the cardiovascular disease of today.
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