7 Reasons to Switch to Grass-Fed Butter
Mila Araujo / EyeEm / Getty Images
By Makayla Meixner
Butter is a popular dairy product typically made from cow's milk.
Essentially, it's the fat from milk in solid form. It's made by churning milk until the butterfat is separated from the buttermilk.
Although most cows in the U.S. primarily eat corn- and grain-based feeds, grass-fed meat and dairy products are becoming increasingly popular (3Trusted Source).
Here are 7 potential health benefits of grass-fed butter.
1. More Nutritious Than Regular Butter
For example, grass-fed butter is higher in omega-3 fatty acids. These are thought to have anti-inflammatory properties and have been linked to many health benefits.
One analysis found that grass-fed butter provides about 26% more omega-3 fatty acids than regular butter, on average (7Trusted Source).
Another analysis determined that grass-fed dairy may pack up to 500% more conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) than regular dairy. Studies have linked this fatty acid to many potential health benefits (8Trusted Source).
In addition to boasting a healthier fat profile, grass-fed butter is believed to be much richer in vitamin K2, which plays an important role in bone and heart health (12).
Compared to regular butter, grass-fed butter has been found to be higher in vitamin K2 and healthy fats, such as omega-3s and CLA.
2. A Good Source of Vitamin A
Vitamin A is fat-soluble and considered an essential vitamin. This means your body cannot make it, so it must be included in your diet.
Like regular butter, grass-fed butter is rich in vitamin A. Each tablespoon (14 grams) of grass-fed butter contains roughly 10% of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI) of this vitamin (5Trusted Source).
Vitamin A is necessary for vision, reproduction, and optimal immune function. It also plays an important role in growth and development and is involved in forming and maintaining healthy teeth, bones, and skin (13Trusted Source, 14Trusted Source).
Grass-fed butter is a good source of vitamin A, a nutrient that's essential for immune function, vision and more.
3. Rich in Beta Carotene
Butter is high in beta carotene — a beneficial compound that your body converts into vitamin A as needed to meet your daily requirements.
In one experiment, butter made from the milk of 100%-grass-fed cows had the highest amount of beta carotene, while butter from cows that were fed a mixed diet of grass and corn had the lowest amounts (15Trusted Source).
Beta carotene is also a well-known and potent antioxidant. Antioxidants help defend your cells from potential damage caused by unstable molecules called free radicals (17Trusted Source, 18Trusted Source).
A wealth of observational studies have associated a higher intake of foods rich in beta carotene to a reduced risk of several chronic diseases, such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD), type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancer (19Trusted Source, 20Trusted Source).
However, these studies largely focused on the intake of beta carotene-rich fruits and vegetables — not the intake of grass-fed butter.
Grass-fed butter contains higher amounts of beta carotene than regular butter. Beta carotene is a potent antioxidant that has been linked to a reduced risk of several chronic diseases.
4. Contains Vitamin K2
Vitamin K is a fat-soluble vitamin that exists in two main forms — vitamin K1 and K2.
Vitamin K1, also known as phylloquinone, is the predominant source of vitamin K in most diets. It's mainly found in plant foods, such as green leafy vegetables (21Trusted Source).
Vitamin K2 is a lesser-known but important nutrient. Also known as menaquinone, it's mainly found in fermented foods and animal products, including grass-fed butter (21Trusted Source, 22Trusted Source).
Although vitamin K2 is less common in the diet, it's very important for your overall health. It plays a key role in your bone and heart health by regulating your calcium levels (23Trusted Source, 24Trusted Source).
Vitamin K2 helps support bone health by signaling your bones to absorb more calcium. Several studies have found that people who consume more vitamin K2 tend to experience fewer bone fractures (25Trusted Source, 26Trusted Source, 27Trusted Source).
Vitamin K2 also helps remove excess calcium from your bloodstream, which may help prevent harmful calcium deposits and plaque from building up in your blood vessels (28Trusted Source).
In a large population study involving 4,807 people, high intake of vitamin K2 (32 mcg per day) was associated with a 50% reduction in risk of death from heart disease (29Trusted Source, 30Trusted Source).
High-fat dairy products like grass-fed butter contain vitamin K2, which is a form of vitamin K that promotes bone and heart health.
5. High in Unsaturated Fatty Acids
Unsaturated fats include monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. These types of fats have long been considered healthy, as studies have consistently linked them to heart health benefits.
One easy way to do this is by replacing your regular butter with grass-fed butter.
Some studies have compared the products of grass- and conventionally fed dairy cows. They've found that grass-fed butter is higher in unsaturated fats than regular butter (32Trusted Source, 33Trusted Source, 34Trusted Source).
However, grass-fed butter still contains a significant amount of saturated fat.
Recent research suggests that saturated fat intake may not be linked to heart disease, as health experts once thought. However, it's best to eat a variety of fats, not just saturated fats, from nutritious sources like nuts, seeds, and fatty fish (35Trusted Source, 36Trusted Source).
Compared to regular butter, grass-fed butter is higher in unsaturated fatty acids, which have been linked to heart health benefits.
6. Contains Conjugated Linoleic Acid
Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) is a type of fat that is mainly found in meat and dairy products derived from ruminant animals like cows, sheep, and goats.
Grass-fed dairy products, particularly grass-fed butter, are believed to be especially high in CLA.
In one experiment, grass-fed cows produced milk providing 500% more CLA than cows fed a corn-based diet (8Trusted Source).
Studies suggest that CLA may have several potential health benefits.
However, human-research findings are mixed.
Studies in mice and rabbits suggest CLA supplements may have the potential to reduce the risk of heart disease by slowing and reducing plaque buildup in the arteries (37Trusted Source).
Nevertheless, the handful of human studies analyzing CLA's effect on plaque buildup has shown no benefit at all (37Trusted Source).
Plus, most studies use concentrated forms of CLA, not small amounts, such as those found in a typical serving of grass-fed butter. For this reason, it's unclear what effect, if any, this amount would have on your health.
Overall, more human studies on the health benefits of CLA are needed.
Grass-fed butter may contain up to 500% more CLA per serving than regular butter. However, it's unclear how the small amount of CLA in butter affects your health. More research in humans is needed.
7. Easy to Add to Your Diet
Ultimately, grass-fed butter may be a relatively nutritious replacement for regular butter.
Fortunately, the taste and texture of the two are almost identical, and regular butter can easily be swapped for grass-fed butter in any recipe.
For example, grass-fed butter can be used in baking, spread on toast, or used for non-stick cooking.
Keep in mind that grass-fed butter is still a concentrated source of fat and calories. Though it's relatively healthy, it's still best enjoyed in moderation to avoid unintentional weight gain.
Also, be sure to include plenty of other healthy fats in your diet. Eat foods like nuts, seeds, and fatty fish to ensure you're getting a wide variety of healthy fats.
When used in moderation, grass-fed butter is a relatively healthy and easy replacement for regular butter.
The Bottom Line
Grass-fed butter is a good source of vitamin A and the antioxidant beta carotene. It also has a higher proportion of healthy, unsaturated fats and CLA than regular butter.
What's more, it provides vitamin K2, a form of vitamin K that plays an important role in your bone and heart health.
Overall, grass-fed butter is a relatively healthy alternative to regular butter when consumed in moderation.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Healthline.
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By Tara Lohan
Warming temperatures on land and in the water are already forcing many species to seek out more hospitable environments. Atlantic mackerel are swimming farther north; mountain-dwelling pikas are moving upslope; some migratory birds are altering the timing of their flights.
Numerous studies have tracked these shifting ranges, looked at the importance of wildlife corridors to protect these migrations, and identified climate refugia where some species may find a safer climatic haven.
"There's a huge amount of scientific literature about where species will have to move as the climate warms," says U.C. Berkeley biogeographer Matthew Kling. "But there hasn't been much work in terms of actually thinking about how they're going to get there — at least not when it comes to wind-dispersed plants."
Kling and David Ackerly, professor and dean of the College of Natural Resources at U.C. Berkeley, have taken a stab at filling this knowledge gap. Their recent study, published in Nature Climate Change, looks at the vulnerability of wind-dispersed species to climate change.
It's an important field of research, because while a fish can more easily swim toward colder waters, a tree may find its wind-blown seeds landing in places and conditions where they're not adapted to grow.
Kling is careful to point out that the researchers weren't asking how climate change was going to change wind; other research suggests there likely won't be big shifts in global wind patterns.
Instead the study involved exploring those wind patterns — including direction, speed and variability — across the globe. The wind data was then integrated with data on climate variation to build models trying to predict vulnerability patterns showing where wind may either help or hinder biodiversity from responding to climate change.
One of the study's findings was that wind-dispersed or wind-pollinated trees in the tropics and on the windward sides of mountain ranges are more likely to be vulnerable, since the wind isn't likely to move those dispersers in the right direction for a climate-friendly environment.
The researchers also looked specifically at lodgepole pines, a species that's both wind-dispersed and wind-pollinated.
They found that populations of lodgepole pines that already grow along the warmer and drier edges of the species' current range could very well be under threat due to rising temperatures and related climate alterations.
"As temperature increases, we need to think about how the genes that are evolved to tolerate drought and heat are going to get to the portions of the species' range that are going to be getting drier and hotter," says Kling. "So that's what we were able to take a stab at predicting and estimating with these wind models — which populations are mostly likely to receive those beneficial genes in the future."
That's important, he says, because wind-dispersed species like pines, willows and poplars are often keystone species whole ecosystems depend upon — especially in temperate and boreal forests.
And there are even more plants that rely on pollen dispersal by wind.
"That's going to be important for moving genes from the warmer parts of a species' range to the cooler parts of the species' range," he says. "This is not just about species' ranges shifting, but also genetic changes within species."
Kling says this line of research is just beginning, and much more needs to be done to test these models in the field. But there could be important conservation-related benefits to that work.
"All these species and genes need to migrate long distances and we can be thinking more about habitat connectivity and the vulnerability of these systems," he says.
The more we learn, the more we may be able to do to help species adapt.
"The idea is that there will be some landscapes where the wind is likely to help these systems naturally adapt to climate change without much intervention, and other places where land managers might really need to intervene," he says. "That could involve using assisted migration or assisted gene flow to actually get in there, moving seeds or planting trees to help them keep up with rapid climate change."
Tara Lohan is deputy editor of The Revelator and has worked for more than a decade as a digital editor and environmental journalist focused on the intersections of energy, water and climate. Her work has been published by The Nation, American Prospect, High Country News, Grist, Pacific Standard and others. She is the editor of two books on the global water crisis. http://twitter.com/TaraLohan
Reposted with permission from The Revelator.
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The last of the woolly rhinos went extinct in Siberia nearly 14,000 years ago, just when the Earth's climate began changing from its frozen conditions to something warmer, wetter and less favorable to the large land mammal. DNA tests conducted by scientists on 14 well-preserved rhinos point to rapid warming as the culprit, CNN reported.
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The study, published in Current Biology, notes that the rhino population stayed fairly consistent for tens of thousands of years until 18,500 years ago. That means that people and rhinos lived together in Northern Siberia for roughly 13,000 years before rhinos went extinct, Science News reported.
The findings are an ominous harbinger for large species during the current climate crisis. As EcoWatch reported, nearly 1,000 species are expected to go extinct within the next 100 years due to their inability to adapt to a rapidly changing climate. Tigers, eagles and rhinos are especially vulnerable.
The difference between now and the phenomenon 14,000 years ago is that human activity is directly responsible for the current climate crisis.
To figure out the cause of the woolly rhinos' extinction, scientists examined DNA from different rhinos across Siberia. The tissue, bone and hair samples allowed them to deduce the population size and diversity for tens of thousands of years prior to extinction, CNN reported.
Researchers spent years exploring the Siberian permafrost to find enough samples. Then they had to look for pristine genetic material, Smithsonian Magazine reported.
It turns out the wooly rhinos actually thrived as they lived alongside humans.
"It was initially thought that humans appeared in northeastern Siberia fourteen or fifteen thousand years ago, around when the woolly rhinoceros went extinct. But recently, there have been several discoveries of much older human occupation sites, the most famous of which is around thirty thousand years old," senior author Love Dalén, a professor of evolutionary genetics at the Center for Paleogenetics, said in a press release.
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For example, she says that locally owned businesses can lead the local clean energy economy and create new jobs in underserved communities.
"We really need to think about … connecting climate and energy with other issues that people wake up every day really worried about," she says, "whether it be jobs, housing, transportation, health and well-being."
To maximize that potential, she says the energy sector must have more women and people of color in positions of influence. Research shows that leadership in the solar industry, for example, is currently dominated by white men.
"I think that a more inclusive, diverse leadership is essential to be able to effectively make these connections," Stephens says. "Diversity is not just about who people are and their identity, but the ideas and the priorities and the approaches and the lens that they bring to the world."
So she says by elevating diverse voices, organizations can better connect the climate benefits of clean energy with social and economic transformation.
Reposted with permission from Yale Climate Connections.