Butter isn't all bad, research finds
Butter has an undeservedly poor reputation when it comes to healthy eating, according to new research.
Nutritional scientists at Tufts University in Boston found butter consumption was only “weakly associated” with total mortality, not linked to cardiovascular disease and even slightly inversely associated with the risk of developing diabetes.
They conducted an epidemiological study combining nine research studies covering 636,151 people in 15 countries and 6.5 million person-years of follow-up.
In that time, there were 28,271 deaths, 9,783 cases of cardiovascular disease and 23,954 cases of new-onset Type 2 diabetes.
Researchers standardized butter consumption across all nine studies to 14 grams per day, or roughly one tablespoon. The average butter consumption in the studies ranged from about one-third of a tablespoon per day to more than three tablespoons.
The meta-study, published in scientific journal Plos One, found mostly small or insignificant associations of each daily serving of butter with total mortality, heart disease and diabetes.
“Even though people who eat more butter generally have worse diets and lifestyles, it seemed to be pretty neutral overall,” said Laura Pimpin, one of the report’s authors.
Butter may be a “middle-of-the-road food,” say the researchers; a better choice than sugar or starch (the white bread or potato on which butter is spread) but a worse choice than many margarines or cooking oils that are rich in healthy fats, such as soybean, canola, flaxseed and extra virgin olive oils.
“Overall, our results suggest that butter should neither be demonized nor considered ‘back’ as a route to good health,” said Darisuh Mozaffarian, dean of the Friedman School of Nutritional Science and Policy at Tufts and co-author of the study.
He said more research is needed to understand the potential lower risk of diabetes through eating butter.