Butter: Is It Healthy?

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By: , – Dana Angelo White, Food Network’s Healthy Eats
6/27/2012 2:00 PM   :  52 comments   :  16,332 Views

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One of the most controversial debates in the nutrition world – can butter be part of a healthy diet?

Yes

There’s something deliciously simple about good old butter. It’s made from nothing but cream and salt, not the laundry list of ingredients you’ll find in tubs of butter alternatives. One tablespoon has 7-percent of your daily needs for vitamin A and even a hint (45 milligrams) of omega-3 fats.

The flavor and velvety smooth texture is second to none. Lobster rolls, croissants, fettuccini Alfredo and chocolate cake just wouldn’t be the same without at least a little. 

No?

Butter is pure fat – one has tablespoon has 11 grams of fat and 100 calories. The majority of the fat (7 grams) is the artery clogging saturated kind. That same pat of butter also has 30 milligrams of cholesterol, 10% of the daily recommendation.

The Verdict
Butter can absolutely be part of your healthy eating plan. For everyday spreads, a pat of nut butters or non-trans fat butter alternatives can do the trick — spread those on your toast as an alternative to butter. But for some recipes, like baked goods and sauces, only butter will do the trick — savor these in moderation.

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Comments

  • SHININGDRAGON
    52
    Got back unto butter after years of using Becel. I finally figured out that something natural, and oh so tasty, has to be good for me because my body can recognize it! I have a teaspoon on my toast in the morning and will mix with EVOO on a pound or more of vegetables. Yum! - 10/22/2013   4:52:36 PM
  • 51
    I use only butter. However, I cut my butter in half with olive oil. I buy my butter from Costco because it is cheaper than the supermarkets. I then take 1 lb softened and mix with 2 cups olive oil and mix in the food processor. You can add a pinch of salt if you like. I then pour the butter mix into 4-1cup containers. Putting one in the fridge and the other 3 in the freezer for later use. If left out for a short time, it has the consistency of margarine. I have added flax oil in as well but use that batch for non-cooking purposes. My kids like my butter better than just plain butter. You can use EVOO but expect an olivey taste. - 8/8/2012   8:45:18 PM
  • 50
    Somehow, my mind translates butter to natural, and I can't imagine that the spreads that are 1 molecule away from plastic can be a healthful alternative. When appropriate, I choose to use canola oil instead, but for table use, it's butter for me. - 7/6/2012   7:18:10 AM
  • 49
    I am with Michael Pollan on this one. Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants. So not too much butter, and I eat it mostly as a condiment on plant foods (asparagus sauteed in butter OMG!) But this is one of the foods my ancestors evolved eating. My cholesterol is healthy, my weight is healthy, and the taste of butter is one of the things that makes life worth living and prolonging. - 7/1/2012   7:49:04 AM
  • 48
    A little butter now and then doesn't hurt, but I don't eat it often or very much. I use olive oil much more these days. - 7/1/2012   1:19:35 AM
  • 47
    I love butter. It's tastier, and healthier, than margarine, so I use it all the time. I prefer to have foods that don't have artificial additives in them - I find artificial additives are worse, health-wise, than fat. - 6/30/2012   9:44:21 PM
  • 46
    I use a little butter every day since I don't get enough fat in my diet. I use the kind with olive oil so I get the good fats too. - 6/30/2012   6:57:14 PM
  • RCUFF2012
    45
    I use butter just about everyday. It is way better than artificially manufactured spreads. - 6/30/2012   12:46:17 PM
  • 44
    I grew up on a dairy farm. My dad did not allow margarine in the house. I still use butter, in moderation. Butter never advertises that it tastes like margarine!! - 6/29/2012   8:35:36 PM
  • 43
    I totally agree.. something that is clean and whole and natural is much healthier than something that is totally manufactured and has 40 ingredients. Can you make butter at home? Yes. Margarine? Not so much. - 6/29/2012   2:31:47 PM
  • 42
    Personally, I find eating something more natural like butter than something totally artificial like margarine to be not only healthier but just plain more enjoyable. Like everything else we choose to put into our mouths, moderation is the key. JMHO - 6/29/2012   11:51:03 AM
  • 41
    I use butter in moderation. - 6/28/2012   6:51:06 PM
  • 40
    So happy to read this, I love butter and use it in moderation. - 6/28/2012   5:25:02 PM
  • 39
    I absolutely love butter! I only use butter, no fake stuff here. Moderation is definitely it. I only use a little. It's good stuff! - 6/28/2012   3:31:55 PM
  • 38
    Hope4the best30 - is right on! REAL FOOD all the way! - 6/28/2012   2:20:50 PM
  • HOPE4THEBEST30
    37
    I agree with you all, butter is the way to go. When I decided to make a go and lose weight 2 years ago, I decided to do it with whole, real food. Eat real sugar and butter. Lost 50 lbs. I'm a firm believer in not restricting any food, moderation is key. - 6/28/2012   1:34:52 PM
  • 36
    You will only find butter or olive oil in my house. I use a pat - just for the flavor - rice for one - with just a pat of butter as well as my herbs is so much tastier. Corn on the cob just wouldn't be the same if I didn't run my ear over the stick quickly! - 6/28/2012   1:26:47 PM
  • 35
    I also allow for butter in my diet. Like many others have said, it's real food, not processed chemicals. Otherwise, I use olive or grapeseed oil. - 6/28/2012   12:44:29 PM
  • 34
    I agree with CLSYLADY! All the way! Most people aren't aware of what makes Margorine.. and the fact that its molecular structure is VERY close to Plastic... Yikes & yuck! We are a butter family all the way!
    - 6/28/2012   10:39:59 AM
  • 33
    Yes, I use butter and I never use any types of margarine, because the majority of them have a preservative in them to which I am severely allergic and besides that, they taste terrible, in my opinion. I also use canola oil for some things. All of it though needs to be in moderation. Depending on what I am cooking, sometimes I don't use any fat at all. - 6/28/2012   10:33:01 AM
  • 32
    I haven't used margarine or any of those fake products in years. I use butter or canola oil in baking and spreadable butter on toast (same flavor, less saturated fat, salt, and cholesterol). To make spreadable butter, which is lower in saturated fats and cholesterol, you just let butter soften to room temperature, whip it with beaters, then beat in an equal amount of canola oil (I use cold pressed oil from the health food store). Refrigerate. As it cools and hardens, I will whip it a few more times. The flavor tastes the same. - 6/28/2012   10:29:28 AM
  • 31
    I definitely prefer butter, in small amounts, to margarine. There is much better flavor in just a small smear of butter than there is in a whole tablespoon of the fake stuff, and I feel better knowing I'm not putting chemicals into my body. I want real food, not something artificial. - 6/28/2012   9:42:06 AM
  • 30
    tap tap tap... Is this thing on ? I'll admit it. Recently, I've been on something of a butter kick. I LOVE a piece of bread with butter. I'm trying to watch my portions and not go too overboard. But yeah, nothing beats butter ! Although, making a nod towards better health, I do eat a canola oil/butter combo. That's how I indulge without over indulging a wee too much.
    - 6/28/2012   9:40:56 AM
  • 29
    I only eat butter once a week - usually Sunday breakfast. I only use whipped butter and I do not cook with it.

    - 6/28/2012   9:27:56 AM
  • 28
    Whipped butter more air less calories taste great nothing artificial - 6/28/2012   8:41:44 AM
  • CIRANDELLA
    27
    Butter's always healthiest when endorsed by Paula Deen and deep-fried. - 6/28/2012   8:40:59 AM
  • 26
    Have always used butter; won't use margarine. Just watch the amount. Everything in moderation. - 6/28/2012   8:29:33 AM
  • TSANC01
    25
    Yes, I use butter, but only a small amount. I'm trying to stay away from processed foods. - 6/28/2012   8:18:43 AM
  • 24
    Absolutely - I've gone back to butter and whole dairy products, and I'm losing weight! Moderation is certainly the key. - 6/28/2012   7:17:27 AM
  • 23
    Yes, I make room for butter. Moderation is key! - 6/28/2012   5:53:55 AM
  • GIGISINGS68
    22
    Good info - 6/28/2012   5:53:51 AM
  • 21
    I sure do!! I don't eat anything that is one molecule away from plastic! Give me natural butter any day of the week. - 6/28/2012   3:59:16 AM
  • LJGALLO
    20
    Most of the "healthy" non-transfat spreads are awful. They're awful for you and they taste awful. Give me real food. - 6/28/2012   2:35:42 AM
  • 19
    I've always preferred butter to margarine. It tastes butter and I can pronounce all of it's ingredients. My daughter has realized that it also tastes better than margarine.
    - 6/28/2012   2:26:23 AM
  • 18
    Real foods, such as organic butter (from pastured, grass-fed cows), is an appropriate and flavorful fat for a healthy diet. We avoid all margarines and other "substitute" or "diet" foods as they are filled with additives, chemicals, and extremely processed. Moderation. And real food. Makes Good Sense - and Good Eating. -- Maryjean - 6/28/2012   12:53:45 AM
  • 17
    In my case butter is bad for me, cause I overeat it because it is so delious! - 6/28/2012   12:52:08 AM
  • 16
    I agree... Butter in moderation. Fake food is out. - 6/28/2012   12:48:46 AM
  • 15
    I prefer butter to anything artificial. But I do limit myself to once a day. - 6/28/2012   12:28:44 AM
  • 14
    Many physicians believe there is no such thing as a healthy dairy product, and that goes for fake buttery spreads as well. That's certainly something everyone should think about along with consumption of any animal product. We all need to eat more veggies, whole grains, and fruit. Whatever room is left on the plate after that, fill with your choice of healthy ingredients if you really want to eat a healthy diet. - 6/27/2012   11:47:21 PM
  • 13
    Even though its higher in calories than faux butter in the tubs, I'll stick to the real deal! I also don't use faux sweeteners...scary! When I indulge, I do it the right way :) - 6/27/2012   10:30:57 PM
  • 12
    Nutritionist Marion Nestle said it best: "I eat butter, REAL BUTTER, in moderation." One time I measured how much butter I put on a piece of toast and it came to 6grams. I use that as my standard measure. - 6/27/2012   10:03:47 PM
  • 11
    I use butter in moderation. Margarine tastes horrible, plus it's full of chemicals. Butter packs a wallop of a punch for flavor. In cooking, I use a 50/50 mix of unsalted butter and EVOO.No sacrifice in flavor or health. . . - 6/27/2012   9:19:35 PM
  • 10
    Its better for you than BECEL- that stuff killed my Dad. - 6/27/2012   9:04:56 PM
  • 9
    I love butter. Not going to cut it out of my diet, no way, no how, nu-UH! And fake subsitutes simply don't exist for me. But like anything dairy, I do try to get organic, from grass-fed, non-antibiotic-treated, happy critters. And I do try to cut back from the super-slathering days of the past - by doing things like the half-and-half with olive oil trick. - 6/27/2012   8:22:19 PM
  • 8
    I'd rather have butter than anything artifical. Just tastes better to me. - 6/27/2012   6:41:24 PM
  • 7
    I consider a healthy diet one that is balanced to include both "junk" and "health-nut" food. I choose not to be obsessive about every gram that passes my lips, but rather the averages over time.

    Butter (in moderate / small amounts) is definitely a part of my food choices when it is the appropriate choice. For example, cooking some chopped green peppers in butter, then adding an egg mixture for an omelet - the butter makes a flavor difference. But I use something like half of a very thin slice; nowhere near a full pat. - 6/27/2012   6:35:48 PM
  • 6
    I love butter! I'd rather have it than the chemical filled "healthy" alternatives. - 6/27/2012   4:55:48 PM
  • 5
    There is literally not one. single. food. that can't be part of a healthy diet. Whether as a staple or an indulgence, you can eat anything and everything... just not gallons or pounds of it. Be reasonable. Go back to how they ate in the 50's. Portions were really based on what people NEED - meat was more of a side dish! -, and made of real ingredients. - 6/27/2012   4:25:41 PM
  • 4
    For everyday use, we make a butter/olive oil blend (50/50 plus a small amount of salt to bring the flavor out). It's soft and spreadable, reduces the saturated fat and adds monosaturated fat. "Real" food is infinitely better than the fake stuff. - 6/27/2012   3:43:39 PM
  • 3
    Each man made food adds more chemicals to your body.Together they add up. - 6/27/2012   3:40:19 PM

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