Why do we keep doing this to ourselves – replacing naturally delicious foods like butter with synthetic, inferior alternatives in the misguided belief that they can enhance our health?
Spreads and margarines are highly refined industrial products, originally created to provide a cheap alternative to butter for the masses. Once butter became cheaper, the marketing angle changed, and these alternatives were promoted on a health ticket instead.
Pure butter is an entirely natural product (even more so when made from organically produced milk). Made from soured, churned cream, butter contains health-promoting fatty acids, including butyric acid. In fact butter takes its name from this noble fatty acid. Butyric acid is known to block colon tumour cells and at the same time promote healthy colon cells. It helps the friendly bacteria L. acidophilus and B. bifidum to stick to the digestive tract and resist harmful bugs that might attempt to take up residence in your gut.
Can’t Believe Butter Does All This
Butter is a rich source of another fatty acid called conjugated linoleic acid (CLA). CLA is known to slow down and even prevent tumour development, and is the only fatty acid acknowledged by the National Academy of Sciences in the US to show consistent anti-tumour properties, even at very low levels. It even helps prevent heart disease.
Butter is the gift that keeps on giving, clearly. As if the fatty acids weren’t enough, it is also naturally rich in vitamin A, unlike spreads and margarine, which have to be artificially fortified with this vitamin.
CLA decreases body fat storage in animal models and promotes cardiovascular protection against atherosclerosis.
But, you’re thinking, surely butter is a saturated fat, and saturated fat kills people off in droves? That was the thinking for decades. Consequently we were advised to avoid saturated fat at all costs if we wanted to stay alive. Never mind that hunter-gatherer, pre-agricultural humans had survived on a diet of vast quantities of saturated fat for over 2.5 million years. Or that there has never been a single piece of evidence to demonstrate that saturated fat causes cardiovascular disease, or any other disease.
Hold the Margarine and Spreads
Margarine is a different matter altogether. It is neither natural nor wholesome. It doesn’t taste so great either. Margarine is usually produced from refined omega-6 polyunsaturated oils from various sources, including sunflower seeds, soya beans and corn oil. These industrial oils are processed to within an inch of their lives, in a series of high temperature refinement, degumming, bleaching and deodorising procedures. Almost all of the original nutrients are lost, and you are left with trans fatty acids and free radicals. As it happens, there is plenty evidence that both of these can seriously damage your health.
Trans fatty acids have no nutritional value, but plenty of serious implications for human health. They are associated with cardiovascular disease, mainly because of the way they increase platelet aggregation (clumping of proteins in blood). This can lead to clots. Although some natural foods, including butter, also contain trans fats, they are structurally different to those found in margarine. The body recognises and is able to process them.
A spread is a margarine spin-off, containing less fat and more water. It’s a watery vegetable oil, for which people happily pay a premium.
What about spreadable butter?
You may ask. It’s a crime, is the answer. Vegetable oil is added to butter to make it spreadable. This product can contain 25 or even 30 per cent vegetable oil. It’s a vile debasement that offers more advantages to the manufacturer than it does to you. The only suitable alternative AYCE recommends is Président, which is butter with cream added. It really is rather good.
If you know of any other brands of spreadable butter that do not contain vegetable oil, let us know!
In the meantime I recommend that you purchase a stoneware butter dish. Then you can dispense with the fridge on summer days and enjoy your own spreadable, heavenly-tasting, health-giving butter.
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