It’s been an uphill battle, but after bearing a bad reputation for over half a century, it appears butter is back. According to The American Butter Institute, last year butter consumption reached its highest level in 40 years here in the U.S, and the shift is being attributed to a change in consumer preferences for simpler ingredient lists and fewer artificial ingredients.
There’s a simple food movement happening.
When it comes to food purchasing, health-conscious consumers are looking for simpler ingredient lists. In recent years, less has become more when it comes to ingredients and processing as they relate to our health. And with just cream, or cream and salt, butter’s ingredient list fits the definition of simple.
We’re turning our noses up to trans fat.
The invention of artificial trans fats (also known as partially hydrogenated oils) once made margarine a lower-calorie, and therefore “healthier,” alternative at the height of the war against saturated fats. But as it turns out, those trans fats in margarine actually do more harm to cholesterol levels than their saturated counterparts, by increasing “bad” LDL cholesterol and decreasing our “good” HDL cholesterol. Talk about a double whammy! The evidence to support this has been so strong the FDA recently declared trans fats as “potentially unsafe,” which has many consumers demanding they be banned altogether.
As trans fats take a tumble, the evidence suggesting we go back to butter is mounting. Just last month, a study published in the Annals of Medicine* found that people who ate more saturated fat did not, in fact, have more heart disease. Also worth noting, the study did not find less disease in people eating more amounts of unsaturated fat, like olive or corn oil. This analysis looked at nearly 80 different studies and included more than a half million people, making it one of the most comprehensive dietary fat studies to date.
The latest research suggests butter can be part of a healthy diet (I certainly include it in mine), but this shouldn’t be interpreted as an excuse to eat butter with abandon. It’s best to keep your sources of fats balanced and to consume it in moderation.
Regardless of whether you’re going to stick with margarine or move back to butter, butter has certainly made a comeback.
What do you think? Will you be putting butter back on your table?
*Association of Dietary, Circulating, and Supplement Fatty Acids With Coronary Risk: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. Annals of Internal Medicine. 2014 Mar;160(6):398-406.