Building a Butter Body

If you celebrated Easter you probably have an assortment of pastel colored eggs you’re not sure what to do with.  After all eggs, along with butter and steak, are full of saturated fat and bad for your arteries, right?

Despite this being generally accepted thinking since the 1950’s no studies have ever proven this and in fact, several large recent studies show no effect and perhaps even a detrimental effect of cutting saturates, especially when replaced with carbs including bread and pasta.

A March report published in the Annals of Internal Medicine analyzed 72 studies of dietary fat with over 600,000 participants. They found no correlation between saturated fats and heart disease nor did they find health benefits with consumption of polyunsaturated fats.  In over a half million people, the authors report “null associations” between saturated fats and heart disease or stroke.

Given studies like this would never have chosen grass fed meats or dairy as the saturated fat source, this surprises even me.  Remember grass fed animal products are rich in disease-righting omega 3 fats and lower in inflammatory fats.

This comes not long after another meta-analysis published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in March 2010  summarized results of 21 studies on fats, with authors concluding: “There is no significant evidence for concluding that dietary saturated fat is associated with an increased risk of coronary heart disease or cardiovascular disease.”

In still another analysis of 16 studies, authors found no role between saturated fat intake and cardiovascular disease and when saturates were replaced with carbohydrates (bread, pasta, low fat muffins….), risk of heart disease went up.

Saturated fat is essential to health.  Saturates give our cell walls integrity. They enable us to produce hormones.  The brain is primarily saturated fat and cholesterol and requires a steady diet of these nutrients to thrive.

Fats in general slow absorption of food so we aren’t hungry soon after meals.   Fats carry nutrients into the blood stream, including calcium, magnesium and vitamins A and D.  We can’t build strong bones without fat.

If you enjoy wine or cocktails, saturated fats protect your liver from alcohol damage, and can even reverse the effects of overindulgence.

Certain saturated fats are antifungal; some fight dental caries.  Palmitic and stearic acids, fatty acids found in palm oil, butter, pork, lard and chocolate, actually help to lower cholesterol levels.

Still unconvinced? read this.

The Women’s Health Initiative, a study of 49,000 women, reported in 2006 that low-fat diets do nothing for weight loss nor do they prevent heart attacks, breast or colon cancers, or stroke.  In fact, women with heart disease who switched to low-fat diets experienced a 26 percent increase in heart disease deaths.  According to Harvard’s web site, this is “the final nail in the coffin” for low-fat diets.

For many this means a huge change in thinking.  It was for me, and it took me several years to inch my way back to a fat-rich diet of my childhood.  The added fat improved every area of my health, from my expanding belly to my mood to my blood pressure.

The fat-is-bad message has been repeated so many times we have accept it as truth.  Now we repeat it like a mantra.

“The moment we want to believe something, we suddenly see all the arguments for it, and become blind to the arguments against it.” George Bernard Shaw



Building a Butter Body — 13 Comments

  1. Linda,
    Too much dairy makes me feel heavy. If this is the case, is butter still okay to consume? Thank you very much.

    • If something leaves you feeling heavy, it’s not the best choice. Butter is usually OK even for those with dairy issues, but if it leaves you feeling poorly, try ghee.

  2. Hi Linda
    There are various types of coconut oil in the market:
    – Extra virgin
    – Virgin
    – Neutral (no coconut smell)
    Are we able to use all of these for cooking?

    What is the temperature for deep frying? Is coconut oil suitable for this as well?


    • All versions of coconut oil are fine for use. The less refined, the more health benefits but if you do not like the flavor of coconut oils, then refined types work as they are more neutral tasting. I do not deep fry and feel this is damaging to foods and fats. That said, probably lard or palm oil are best for deep frying. If you do use coconut oil for frying, it should be refined.

  3. I’m planning To make some of the delicious soups you gave me during our month of email support. After a weekend of heavier carbohydrate eating than normal, which of your your soups/ingredients would help really take away the fluid retention? I plan on making a few soups and stews this week. I just want to see which ones I should start with:)
    Thank you!!!!

    • This is Spring, the leafy green season. Greens help the liver detox now. Greens are energizing, Leafy greens also help us say no to sugar and chocolate. Many are natural diuretics. Try making watercress or nettles soup, “cream” of broccoli or sorrel soup. Having a soup immersion blender is ideal. Bon appetit!

  4. I thought you’d have more comments to this article by now Linda. I think people are in shock! So now the question is, if saturates don’t contribute to heart disease and stroke, what does?

    • I wrote an article about the health benefits of a high fat diet for the Eugene Register Guard and was inundated with calls, emails and letters to the editors. Many of my readers have heard a lot of this. One of the bigger contributions to heart disease and stroke is inflammation, which damages the arteries. We drive up inflammation with stress, sugars and refined carbs, smoking and bad oils. We can reduce inflammation by increasing veggies and fruits, certain herbs herbs and good fats, especially omega 3 fats. We also need to exercise and relax more. Oh, and have more fun!

  5. Hi Linda
    Thanks for an insightful post. I simply love butter!
    I have 2 questions and would appreciate if you could share with us your views:
    (1) What do you think of coconut oil for daily consumption and cooking?
    (2) What oils do you cook with? For sauteing, frying and deep frying.
    Thank you!

    • Hi BK,
      Coconut oil is a great fat for higher temp cooking as it does not break down like less saturated fats. Palm oil, ghee, butter, duck fat and schmaltz are all good cooking fats. Sesame oil OK for cooking, not as stable as coconut but it contains natural antioxidants that enable it to hold up to moderate heat. Coconut oil has other health benefits, such as its antimicrobial properties and thyroid benefits. I would not choose “light” in any oil – too processed. Rice bran oil is one of those newer processed oils I am not sure about yet. Still on the fence. I would go with traditional fats when possible. Also your constitution dictates what your own best fats are. I occasionally work with someone who cannot tolerate coconut oil.

  6. Thanks for this! I lived in Switzerland for about 5 years–and experienced weight loss without even trying when I was eating butter every day! My question is–just to make sure that I don’t go overboard with fats in general (now that I’m not limiting myself to the meager 2 teaspoons of fat allowed by a popular weight loss program)–what’s a healthy limit? When you’ve been thinking low-fat for as long as I have–you can worry about going a little too crazy at the freedom of being able to use butter and other healthy fats. Can you give us a guideline? Thanks again!

    • Thanks for the feedback Myra. If everyone had the same need, this would not be so controversial. The most accurate way to look at fat intake is in terms of percent of calories from fat. The outdated government guidelines are 30% of calories or less, which we now realize lead to soaring obesity rates. I have clients who need anywhere form 45% to 70% of calories. Depends a bit on ancestry, constitution and health issues. Also, total calories and quantity of fatty food you are eating (nuts, fatty cuts of meat, avocados, eggs….) also matters. You could need anywhere form one to four added tablespoons per meal. Sorry to be vague. See if you can get a sense of where you feel your best.

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