The Health of It All....

Butter and Fat

Okay, butter is fat. Because butter comes from milk, it is animal fat thus is higher in saturated fat as well as containing cholesterol. In the last twenty years butter has gone from being good to bad and back to good. Why?

Well, the feeling in the 1970s was that fat was bad. Period. Any and all fat, but especially saturated fat (a.k.a. butter). We know better now. Fat is good. You have to have fat – just not too much. Saturated fat is not as healthy, but it is okay in balance with other fats.

A tablespoon of butter is pretty much like a tablespoon of any fat – it contains around 14 grams of fat and, of this, about 8 grams is saturated fat. There’s only 30 mg of cholesterol.

Because the recommendations for a healthy diet are to keep saturated fat to around 20 grams, using butter can add up the fat grams fast. The key is to use less butter. In most of the recipes on this site, butter is used carefully. I use butter as fat but I also use it for its flavor.

There was a time when the recommendation was to use margarine in place of butter, but this isn’t as true as it used to be. Margarine is made from vegetable oils and to get the oil to solidify, it must be hydrogenated. This involves adding extra hydrogen atoms to the chains of fatty acids to make the fats in the oil “stickier”.

The problem is that when the oil is hydrogenated, some of the fats created are of the “Trans” fatty acid type. Even though these are less “saturated” with hydrogen atoms than a saturated fat like butter, they have been shown to cause more health problems. Since there’s essentially an equivalent amount of fat in butter and margarine (even though there’s more saturated fat in the butter) I generally use butter. But as I will say over and over—use it carefully. Read More "The Health of It All..." Articles