Is butter good for you? Now, at least for me, that’s become a good question to ask. But, in order to answer that question, we have to have something to compare butter with. Let’s compare butter versus margarine.
Again, I studied from the Nourishing Traditions cookbook by Sally Fallon with Mary G. Enig, Ph.D.
What is butter?
One churns (stirs or agitates) milk or cream long enough and you come up with butter. Butter comes from cows’ milk usually, and machines are used to churn the milk or cream until it turns to butter. Assuming the butter is organic, that’s it. No further "ingredients" to make it last longer on the shelf. Or some ingredient used for coloring to make it look yellow.
What is margarine?
I visited a store and wrote down the ingredients to a famous margarine. You start with vegetable oils. In this case corn oil and soybean oil. Add hydrogen (which makes it hydrogenated vegetable oil). Add whey (the watery part of milk after it has been made to curdle), water and salt. Add emulsifiers (this means an agent used to make oil droplets mix with water), in this case mono- and diglyceride and soy lecithin. I added a simple definition of mono-and diglycerides:
Mono- and Diglycerides are common food additives used to blend together certain ingredients, such as oil and water, which would not otherwise blend well.
Also added: vitamins A and D3, an unidentified artificial flavoring, vitamin A palmitate (a fatty acid obtained from saturated fats; in this case obtained from vitamin A). Colored with Beta Carotine. Potassium sorbate and sodium benzoate added as preservatives. Yes, this will last long on the shelf. Also, this famous-brand margarine said that it "contains: milk and soy." Your guess is as good as mine as to where the milk is unless one considers whey as milk. It’s not quite milk.
One note: this famous brand margarine conspicuously advertised that it had "0 Trans fats." But hydrogenated corn and soybean oil ARE trans fats. (See my article: Saturated Fats versus partially hydrogenated vegetable oils and trans fats) Wow!
Organic Butter and your health
Organic butter is an excellent source for true vitamin A (retinal), vitamin D, vitamin K, vitamin E and protein. Vitamin A, when obtained from butter, absorbs very easily into your body. If you are lucky enough to have a source of butter from cows that only graze on green grass, you are in for consuming large amounts of vitamin A, D, K, E and protein. Translated — it’s healthy to eat un-tampered-with butter.
Margarine and your health
Margarine comes from partially hydrogenated vegetable oils or fats. This type of butter substitute is nowhere near as hard to manufacture as butter. Unfortunately, margarine blocks the utilization of essential fatty acids (called EFA’s or Omega 6 and Omega 3) found in vegetable oils — that is, margarine blocks itself from being useful to your body and causes many problems for your body like: sexual dysfunction, increased blood cholesterol and paralysis of the immune system. Your body can fight off bugs if you allow it to do its job, but if you put things into it which inhibit this process, you could "get the bug" more easily.
Eating hydrogenated fats has been linked to cancer, atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), diabetes, worsening eyesight, obesity, birth defects, and sterility, problems with bones and tendons and heart disease. The vegetable oils can go rancid. Margarine contains preservatives, which are good for shelf life but lousy for your digestive tract. You’re eating something you’re trying to digest, but that something contains preservatives which fight digestion.
Organic butter versus homogenized butter
Organic butter is good for fertility and for growing children because it contains high concentrations of vitamins A, D, K, E and protein.
But there’s a difference between organic butter and "conventional" butter. Organic butter has not been processed, and therefore all its nutrients or vitamins are intact and undiminished. It may not last forever in the frig, but if you eat it, it won’t last long either and your health will be better.
"Conventional" butter means the milk or cream has been homogenized (ground into small particles so that the cream cannot rise to the top) and/or pasteurized (essentially, cooked) — which means it has lost a good portion of its natural nutritional value. Conventional butter could contain preservatives, which is great for shelf life but bad for your digestion. Preservatives inhibit food, or in this case fat or oil, from going bad but also inhibit your body’s ability to break it down in order to obtain energy from it and to run or work adequately. Or, so that your kids can grow up healthy and strong.
- Butter is good for cooking, and your body doesn’t "pay for it" as butter digests well.
- On the other hand, margarine can go rancid because of the heat in cooking, thus again causing trouble with your digestion.
You tell me! Is organic butter good for your health? And: butter or margarine — which one would you choose?
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