The interest in butter has really been a roller-coaster ride for consumers. First, butter was perfectly fine. Then, butter was looked down upon for being “too fatty” and not good for you. Now people are adding butter to their coffee and swearing by it for a low-carb diet. So what’s the deal? Is butter really that bad for you, and what happens to your body when you eat butter?
In order to finally determine an answer, we talked with Vanessa Rissetto MS, RD, CDN and co-founder of Culina Health, about the benefits and risks of having butter in your diet—and how much is a good amount of butter to actually consume.
Here’s what happens to your body when you eat butter.
It gives your body key vitamins.
Yes—really! Butter actually has a lot of great health benefits that you can easily take advantage of when you cook with it.
“Butter does of course have some healthy qualities,” says Risetto. “It is super rich in vitamin A, and contains lauric acid—which is important for treating infections and candida.”
According to Healthline, one tablespoon of butter will actually provide you with 11% of your recommended daily intake, and it’s only 100 calories. It also contains some Vitamin E, Vitamin B12, and Vitamin K.
It can help reduce body fat.
Butter contains conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) which is the type of fat you typically find in meat and dairy products. While this may seem like a bad thing, it’s actually great when it comes to reducing your body fat. One study shows when a tested group of people consumed at least 3.4 grams of CLA in a day, their body fat decreased overall and they saw less inflammation.
It can possibly fight cancer.
CLA can also be a cancer-fighting property! Studies show that CLA products can also potentially help in reducing the growth of breath, colon, colorectal, stomach, prostate, and liver cancer.
It can improve digestive health.
Healthline also says that butter is rich in butyrate, which is a short-chain fatty acid that can help with the bacteria in your gut. Studies show that butyrate can also reduce intestinal inflammation and even aid in treating irritable bowel syndrome. It can even help boost your metabolism and support weight control!
It quickly adds up your daily saturated fat.
While there clearly are health benefits to having butter as a part of your diet, if you’re not careful about your portion sizes, it can also cause some risks. According to Rissetto, butter is high in saturated fat (about 7 grams per 1 tablespoon) which is a lot compared to your daily recommended amount, which is about 20-22 grams of saturated fat.
“This means that just one tablespoon of butter contains about 35% of your daily suggested intake of saturated fat,” says Rissetto. “The amount of saturated fat in butter can increase LDL cholesterol (‘bad’ cholesterol), and increase the risk of heart disease.”
Here’s how much to have
Based on these studies, and the points Rissetto brings to the table, we conclude with the following: Butter is perfectly fine in moderation.
“Here’s my take, I eat butter. I use it in my cooking from time to time. And I don’t stress about it,” says Rissetto. “But, I also eat a very healthy and varied diet most of the time. So the amount of butter in my diet isn’t enough to have adverse health effects or cause me stress.”
“If you use a tablespoon of butter here or there, you’re going to be just fine,” says Risetto. “And if you think you’re consuming too much butter, try and replace it once or twice a day with a healthier source of fat—like avocado, olive oil, or avocado oil.”
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