Believe it or not, butter and all the saturated fats we were told to avoid are back on “good for you” food list.
With a little PR and valid research, the previously hidden benefits to butter and other natural fats are back in the limelight and challenge some long held health beliefs.
With evidence mounting over the last two decades that dietary saturated fat and cholesterol do not directly lead to cardiovascular disease, the low fat/fat free diet may have met its demise and usher in a more reasonable way of eating – one that promotes a more natural appreciation for whole foods, and a respect for calories.
We’ve got to remind ourselves that fat is a nutrient, not a disease. Obesity is a disorder of the fat cell. Not just any fat cell but the ones that surround your organs (belly fat) and disrupt your metabolism, mind and mood.
This is the bad fat we want to avoid. It grows with an excess of calories and is promoted by a diet too high in carbohydrates (mostly sugars and starches) for a person’s level of activity. It is a viscious cycle that leads to more insulin need, more fat deposits, less insulin sensitivity and health problems like diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Just as not all dietary fats are created equal in health benefit, not all body fat is bad. Most body fat is stored under our skin (subcutaneous fat). In addition to insulation, it is home to hormones that help to control appetite and regulate metabolism.
What many may not also realize is the link between fat and mood. Our brains are 60% fat tissue. It is the most fatty organ in our body. We need fat to help in brain growth and development, insulate neurons and allow proper message signaling. Without this necessary nutrient the body runs amok.
While it’s true that eating fat will yield more calories, the effect on slowing stomach emptying can help you to reduce portion size and eat fewer calories. Natural dietary fats like butter have tremendous value. They have a complex chemical structure that can retard inflammation while they nourish and lubricate body cells. In fact, many types of fatty acids in saturated fats support the immune system, promote heart health and a healthy metabolism while keeping skin smooth and supple.
But, before you jump on the fat wagon, know that not all fats are created equal. Many of the long chain polyunsaturated fats that gained popularity during the low fat heyday are under scrutiny now for their potential to increase inflammation. These fats have a reactive potential due to their chemical structure which is prone to oxidation and free radical formation.
These popular oils (cottonseed, corn, soybean, canola) are in widespread use in processed foods, convenience foods and restaurant chains. Their use has been met with public and scientific concerns related to the environment, the use of pesticides, questions on genetic modification, refining, bleaching, and deodorizing techniques so keep your use of them in check.
Welcome back butter and choose the right fat for the job. Flavor and cooking methods can help you to decide. Know that the once taboo saturated fats like butter, duck and bacon fat, lard and coconut oil are back to claim their place in a healthy kitchen for a balanced meal.
Eat Healthy! Be Happy!