Monday, September 22, 2008

Butter is Good for You

Do you eat butter or a butter replacement product? If you are eating butter replacement products, you should be aware of the effect these have on your health.

Margarines and other similar products are processed foods. They are created chemically from refined, polyunsaturated oils. The process which changes normally liquid oils into a spreadable form is called hydrogenation (also known as a trans-fat). Ironically, there is great movement on the market today to eradicate hydrogenated oils and trans fats from many products, yet natural saturated fats continue to be blamed for health issues.

Butter replacement products contain vegetable oils that have been modified to give the oil the same properties of a fat. This process is used to make shortenings, margarines, and a variety of butter substitute items. The process of modifying vegetable oil in this manner is referred to as interesterification. According to Natural News, this process "involves taking a batch of vegetable oil, to which we add an enzyme that acts as a catalyst. The catalyst causes the separation of a triglyceride molecule into a glycerol and 3 fatty acids.

After breaking the triglycerides molecule apart, the factory can re-configure the fatty acid molecules – combining any three Omega 3, Omega 6, Omega 9, or Saturated molecules, in whatever combination they seek.

Depending on this combination, ie. the percentage of lighter Omega 3 or 6 versus the heavier Omega 9 and Saturated molecules, the hardness of the fat will be determined. The interesterification process can produce any type of fat or oil. This includes heavy fats suitable for deep-frying, semi-solid fats to make margarine, or liquid oils for bottling; the end result is a product that has an indefinite shelf life, targeted at the unsuspecting consumer."

Consuming these processed substances can actually cause the very health problems for which butter is criticized. In general, it is best to avoid any foods containing butter replacement products. The natural Omega 3s occurring in organic butter are essential to health and help regulate cardiovascular function. Butter also contains Vitamin A which is important for thyroid and adrenal glands, and has been associated with heart and blood vessel deformation of the heart in infants born from mothers with Vitamin A deficiencies. Vitamin E is also found in butter, and both Vitamin A and Vitamin E are critical in antioxidant power to keep the body from developing disease.

Use care in selecting good quality butter. Organic is best, and raw butter is a bonus. Try Organic Pastures or U.S. Wellness Meats.

To learn more about the health benefits of eating real butter, visit the Weston A. Price Foundation.

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