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hydrogen atoms
polyunsaturated fats
temperate climates
dietary fats
cows milk
room temperatures
harmful bacteria
free radicals
high temperatures
conventional wisdom
Why Butter Is Good For You
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Why Butter is Good for You

The field of nutrition is still young, and we still have much to learn about what foods are best for our health. A lot of the established opinions aren't necessarily based on scientific fact. One such area of opinion involves what dietary fats we should ingest. Other than lard, I'd say cows milk butter has been the most vilified dietary fat out there. Conventional wisdom praises the benefits of using vegetable oils like canola and soybean, but science doesn't prove this and can prove why butter is good for you.

Butter comes from the churning of cream or whole milk. It consist of butterfat, milk proteins, and water in different amounts depending upon if it is made from the cream or whole milk. All dietary oils contain a mixture of saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated fats in different amounts. Primarily saturated fat, butter is solid at room temperature, even in temperate climates.

More popular polyunsaturated vegetable oils like canola and soybean have replaced butter as the main cooking oil. Popular opinion makes a connection between polyunsaturated fats and heart health. Sadly, what the consumer does not know can indeed hurt them. Most commercial vegetable oils are heavily processed, changing the chemical structure in such a way making the oil harmful to the body. One process, hydrogenation, that bombards the empty carbon atoms in the structure with hydrogen atoms, takes place under extremely high temperatures, forcing the structure to solidify at room temperatures. This is a common practice when making margarine, promoting rancidity and releasing free radicals in the body when ingested.

Butter goes through only one harmful process before being packaged, that is pasteurization. Pasteurization involves heating the substance to a certain temperature for a set amount of time to destroy harmful bacteria and pathogens. Although this process also eliminates many beneficial enzymes, the chemical structure of the oil remains the same because of the fat content of milk and cream. The large proportion of saturated fat in butter keeps it stable chemically even when used for pan frying and baking. Because most vegetable oils consist primarily of polyunsaturated fat, you risk the oil becoming rancid anytime you heat it, even if the product isn't heavily processed and organic. Food is subject to processes that alter it in a fundamental way, being aware of these processes is important.

Saturated fats aid in a number of physiological processes, helping the body deal with stress, regulating hormone response and being the primary constituent of our cells and tissues. In addition to the free radicals released in the body, over consumption of polyunsaturated vegetable oils actually increases the risk of heart disease, cancer, and numerous health problems. The main reason we receive information to the contrary is because the food processing industry is huge and has a lot of money and power. Scientific research enables informed consumer decisions. So the next time you're in the grocery store, you'll head to the dairy aisle, confident butter is good for you!


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