Butter is almost a bad word in today's fat and calorie-concerned society, but did you know that the health benefits of butter far outweigh the risks? Did you know that "healthy" margarine you are slathering on your children's toast has little to offer nutritionally?
According to the Weston A.Price Foundation, real butter is chock-full of key nutrients necessary for optimal health:
1. Vitamin A--needed for the health of the thyroid and adrenal glands, both playing a crucial role in heart and cardiovascular wellness. Butter is an easibly absorbed source of vitamin A.
2. Lecithin--helps metabolize cholesterol.
3. Anti-Oxidants--protects from free-radical damage to the arteries, it's found in butter in the form of vitamins A and E, as well as selenium.
4. Cholesterol--What? Cholesterol? What could be good about that? Turns out that some dietary cholesterol is necessary in actually preventing free-radical damage to the body. Butter is a pure and natural source of dietary cholesterol, unlike margarine, which is man-made and contains rancid fats and highly-processed vegetable oils.
5. Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA)--provides excellant protection against cancer.
It's interesting to note that many think butter is harmful due to it's ammount of saturated fat; however, what has been found to be more harmful is partially hydrogenated fats and hardened fats like those found in margarine. Fat is a necessary component to anyone's diet, as it helps to absorb various vitamins and minerals. We have been taught to fear fat, but it's more important to be aware of the type of fats you are consuming. Butter is, in a sense, a perfectly natural fat while margarines are man-made, genetically modified and lacking in key nutrients.
Of course, as with anything, moderation is the key here! No one should eat a stick of butter a day. Current recomendations for butter intake are about two pats per day, three if you are pregnant or nursing.
Children benefit greatly from butter in their diets. Research supports that the high concentration in Vitamin A is essential for a healthy immune system. Personally, I have found two pats of butter daily to be effective in the management of my son's exzema!
Food Renegade website--check out this great post on the importance of natural dietary fats www.foodrenegade.com/fat-is-where-its-at/ , and while you are there, check out some of the other posts! This is a great source of information on eating for optimum nutrition.
The Nourishing Gourmet--Kimi at the Nourishing Gourmet has written an excellent post on nourishing butter sources. Read it here at www.nourishinggourmet.com/2008/05/my-favorite-butter-sources.html.
Passionate Homemaking blog--Lindsay has written a great post on making your own butter, ensuring you know exactly what is going into the finished product! See it here at www.passionatehomemaking.com/2008/01/making-my-own-butter.html