Food Spotlight: Butter

Butter is a dairy product from milk which consists fats. It is mostly made from cow milk, but can also be made from sheep, goat and buffalo milk. Because of its rich flavor and creamy texture butter is used as a bread spread worldwide, but is also essential in cooking and baking, especially in cakes, cookies and waffles.

Is Butter Good or Bad?

Butter is high in calories and in saturated fats. One tablespoon or 14 grams of butter has approximately 100 calories and 12 grams of fat – most of which saturated. Butter contains more than 400 different fatty acids. The majority of them are saturated (70%), monounsaturated (25%) and polyunsaturated (2.3%). The rest is cholesterol, phospholipids and water. It is also a good source of vitamins A, D, E, B12 and K2, as well as calcium.

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Health Benefits

Butter is a good source of saturated fats. As it does not contain carbohydrates, it can be consumed in low-carbohydrate diets. Butter also contains some amount of beta-carotene that is converted to vitamin A, and also helps in slowing down age-related loss of vision. Because of the presence of vitamin E butter has a protective role over the skin. It can also help strengthen the bones and reduce the chances for developing osteoporosis as it contains the fat-soluble vitamins D and K2, and calcium.

Health Risks

However, eating butter in large amounts can lead to weight gain and other health problems correlated to high-fat diets. As it originates from milk, people with milk allergies or lactose intolerance should be careful with consumption. Historically, butter has been associated with increased risk of cardiovascular diseases, but there is no solid evidence to prove this. Indeed, the authors of a study found that consumption of dairy products and butter is associated with lower blood pressure and arterial stiffness.

Non-Dairy Butters

There are also some butter alternatives available like coconut, nut and apple, that are not real butters, but have similar consistency. Another healthier option is to use avocado that is also rich in fats and has a similar creamy structure. If you are looking for a bread spread, try using hummus instead.

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Butter has a high caloric value, but when consumed in moderation as part of a balanced diet it is not unsafe. In general, the intake of saturated fats should be limited to 10% of the daily calorie input. However, it should be combined or replaced with healthy foods like nuts, seeds, avocado and olive oil. Still, overeating butter can lead to weight gain so be careful of the amount you consume.


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