The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
Why Grass-Fed Butter Is One of the Healthiest Fats on the Planet
Butter is one of the healthiest fats on the planet.
It's not just a big pile of yellow-colored fat, there are many important nutrients in there, some of which have potent biological effects.
Despite having been demonized in the past, real grass-fed butter is one of the healthiest fats on the planet. Period.Photo credit: Shutterstock
However, this does depend on the type of butter, and the amounts of these nutrients vary greatly depending on what the cows ate.
Butter From Grass-Fed Cows is a Major Source of Heart-Healthy Nutrients
Butter is basically just milk fat, also known as butterfat.
Butterfat is highly complex. It contains about 400 different fatty acids, and a decent amount of fat-soluble vitamins (1).
Fatty acids are actually more than just energy sources, some of them have potent biological activity.
As it turns out, many of the fatty acids in butter can affect our physiology and biochemistry in some way, leading to major health benefits.
Grass-fed butter contains five times more CLA than butter from grain-fed cows (4).
As you can see, butter from grass-fed cows is a much healthier and more nutritious choice.
Butter Contains Saturated Fat, But Who Cares?
Butter used to be considered unhealthy, because it contains saturated fat.
However, this is actually not a valid argument against butter, because the saturated fat myth has been thoroughly debunked in recent years.
Two massive review studies were published recently, one in 2010 and the other in 2014. Both included hundreds of thousands of people.
Studies Show That People Who Eat Grass-Fed Butter Have a Lower Risk of Heart Disease
The relationship between full-fat dairy consumption and heart disease seems to depend on the country in which the study is performed.
In countries where cows are largely grass-fed, the people who eat the most butter seem to have a drastically reduced risk of heart disease.
An impressive study on this was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, in the year 2010: Smit LA, et al. Conjugated linoleic acid in adipose tissue and risk of myocardial infarction. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2010.
This study looked at the levels of CLA in the fat tissue of 1813 non-fatal heart attack patients, and compared them to 1813 similar subjects who had not gotten heart attacks.
Levels of this fatty acid are a very reliable marker for the intake of fatty dairy products, and this study was done in Costa Rica, where cows are grass-fed.
They split the subjects into 5 groups, from lowest to highest, depending on their levels of CLA. The results were fairly remarkable:
As you can see, the more full-fat dairy (like butter) people ate, the lower their risk of heart attack.
In fact, the people who ate the most were 49 percent less likely to experience a heart attack, compared to those who ate the least.
However, keep in mind that this was a case-control study, a type of observational study. These types of studies can not prove causation.
This study shows that people who eat more grass-fed dairy fat have a lower risk of heart disease, but it can not prove that dairy fat caused the reduction in risk.
But, at the very least, this study is pretty good reassurance that butter is not the devil it was made out to be.
Many Other Studies Have Shown Similar Results
This is far from being the only study.
Another study from Australia showed that people who ate the most full-fat dairy had a 69% lower risk of heart disease than people who ate the least (8).
Grass-Fed Butter is Super Healthy
Despite having been demonized in the past, real grass-fed butter is one of the healthiest fats on the planet. Period.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
In 2018, there were about 5 million electric cars on the road globally. It sounds like a large number, but with well over a billion cars worldwide, electric vehicles are still only a small percentage.
By Byron Reeves, Nilam Ram and Thomas N. Robinson
There's a lot of talk about digital media. Increasing screen time has created worries about media's impacts on democracy, addiction, depression, relationships, learning, health, privacy and much more. The effects are frequently assumed to be huge, even apocalyptic.
By Raphael Tsavkko Garcia
Rarely has something so precious fallen into such unsafe hands. Since Jair Bolsonaro took the Brazilian presidency in 2019, the Amazon, which makes up 10 percent of our planet's biodiversity and absorbs an estimated 5 percent of global carbon emissions, has been hit with a record number of fires and unprecedented deforestation.
Microsoft announced ambitious new plans to become carbon negative by 2030 and then go one step further and remove by 2050 all the carbon it has emitted since the company was founded in 1975, according to a company press release.