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Is Butter The True Criminal or A Straw Man? How Unhealthy Is It?

Is Butter The True Criminal or A Straw Man? How Unhealthy Is It?

There is a famous myth in cooking:it is dairy that is fattening and is therefore, bad for you. Cheese is, milk is, and butter, being essentially pure fat, most definitely is.

This is so accepted that margarine (made from vegetable oil and water) fills supermarkets world wide and is just as, if not more popular than butter. Its popularity comes from people avoiding butter for its high fat content.

But if this is an undisputed fact, then why am I writing an article?

Well, as you may imagine, the truth is more complicated.

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Now, I’m not going to make the outlandish, and patently untrue claim that there isn’t fat in butter.

No, what I am going to claim, that fats by themselves, even unsaturated fat (as found in butter) are not totally bad for you.

A Myth Dispelled: Not All Fats Are Harmful

People are often quite scared of the word fat, and consider all forms of fat to be totally harmful. However, there is such a thing as healthy fat, monounsaturated fat and polyunsaturated fat have a range of health benefits.

Now, it is true that saturated fats increase cholesterol [1]. If these fats are built up in the body, they can lead to serious health issues such as coronary heart disease. Because of this, it is strictly and severely inadvisable to eat too much butter as butter contain only saturated fat.But cutting it out entirely is unnecessary.

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The Nutritional Component of Fat: Cholesterol

Whilst cholesterol in high levels can be severely harmful, however, in low levels it can aidimportant bodily functions [2] such as in the production of Vitamin D, helping cell health and functionality, and the development of bodily hormones.

Entering the blood carried on lipoproteins, cholesterol carried on high density lipoprotein has these beneficial effects, and can counteract the harmful effects of low density lipoprotein cholesterol.Basically there are two forms of cholesterol, one good, one bad [3].

Butter, which contains a lot of saturated fats, contains a quantity of both forms.The harm done by saturated fats, too has recently been called into question.

What is Saturated Fats?

This view that butter is not a purely harmful substance, as once thought comes from recent research [4] . This research from 2014 [5]even goes so far to cast doubt on the direct link between saturated fats and an increased risk of heart disease. This is the important part, it may mean that our stance on saturated fats, like the fats in butter, need re-evaluation.

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It should be stated, of course, that just because something is not so clearly bad for you is not [6]the same thing as being good for you. So though it seems that saturated fats may not be as harmful as once feared, they should still be consumed in moderation.

It may even one day be discovered that not all saturated fat is harmful, this is a lot like how once it was thought that all cholesterol was harmful, but, again, now we know that some forms are actually beneficial.

How much saturated fat should you consume has caused some significant debate among nutritionists? Some (such as the World Health Organisation[7]) recommend that no more than 10% of total calories taken in should come from saturated fats.

Meanwhile others [8]have suggested that not only might saturated fats not increase risk of heart disease, but the kinds of saturated fats found in dairy products, may actually decrease the risk.

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So who to believe?

It is not my intention to bamboozle you with contradictory information, but only to suggest something that goes against common understanding. That butter, instead of being an almost deadly, super unhealthy lump of fat, which should be avoided at all costs, is actually perfectly fine to eat in moderation. It might not be super bad for you, but like with a lot of things, eating a lot of it may have some bad consequences.

So, before you root through stores to find the perfect butter substitute to spread, you can be safe in the understanding that simply buying some good old fashioned butter is not something you should worry about.

5 Surprising Health Benefits of Butter

Though there is a debate about the risks of saturated fats. There are a number of other genuine benefits which have been accepted. Here are five ways butter can actually be good [9]for you.

  1. Bone health
    Butter is naturally rich in important minerals like Zinc, Manganese, Selenium, and Copper. These minerals are all essential for the body, and help in a large number of important bodily functions, such as blood production (Manganese) and maintaining good functionality of the immune system (Selenium), and they are all essential in maintaining healthy bones and aid in bone regrowth and repair. As such can help keep issues like Arthritis and Osteoporosis well away.
  2. Vitamin A
    Butter is a good source of Vitamin A which is an essential vitamin, used by the body for a number of important functions. Vitamin A [10] is maintaining healthy eyes and can even improve your eyesight in dimly lit areas.
    That’s not all, Vitamin A is vital for boosting and maintaining the immune system, improving your bodily defense against further illness and infection.
    Also, Vitamin A has been shown to help maintain healthy skin.
  3. Intestinal Health
    I’ve written already about how fatty butter is, however in that fat are glycospingolipids, which whilst being hard to say, is a very beneficial fatty acid, one key in promoting healthy intestines by making it much more difficult for harmful bacteria join and bind with parts of your intestines, which could cause a number of gastronomical issues.
  4. Anti Cancer properties
    Butter, particularly butter from grass fed cows [11]is a good source of the beneficial fatty acid Conjugated Linoleic Acid, (CLA) which, on animals have been shown to help reduce tumors. Of course, its no way near a treatment, and certainly not a cure, but CLA could prove to be a great ally in the fight against cancer.
  5. Combats sexual dysfunction
    It has been found that vitamin A and D, both found in butter are important for sexual performance and aid against sterility. Indeed vitamin deficiency has a known connection to sexual sterility in both men and women. Therefore sources of vitamins, like butter, are vital for maintaining sexual functionality.

So, with the above considered, its clear that butter both may not be as bad for you as previously thought, but also contains an impressive range of health benefits.

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Arthur Peirce

Lifestyle Writer

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Last Updated on August 12, 2019

12 Best Foods That Improve Memory and Brain Health

12 Best Foods That Improve Memory and Brain Health

Nutrition plays a vital role in brain function and staying sharp into the golden years. Personally, my husband is going through medical school, which is like a daily mental marathon. Like any good wife, I am always looking for things that will boost his memory fortitude so he does his best in school.

But you don’t have to be a med student to appreciate better brainiac brilliance. If you combine certain foods with good hydration, proper sleep and exercise, you may just rival Einstein and have a great memory in no time.

I’m going to reveal the list of foods coming out of the kitchen that can improve your memory and make you smarter.

Here are 12 best brain foods that improve memory and brain power:

1. Nuts

The American Journal of Epidemiology published a study linking higher intakes of vitamin E with the prevention on cognitive decline.[1]

Nuts like walnuts and almonds (along with other great foods like avocados) are a great source of vitamin E.

Cashews and sunflower seeds also contain an amino acid that reduces stress by boosting serotonin levels.

Walnuts even resemble the brain, just in case you forget the correlation, and are a great source of omega 3 fatty acids, which also improve your mental magnitude.

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2. Blueberries

Shown in studies at Tuffs University to benefit both short-term memory and coordination, blueberries pack quite a punch in a tiny blue package.[2]

When compared to other fruits and veggies, blueberries were found to have the highest amount of antioxidants (especially flavonoids), but strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries are also full of brain benefits.

3. Tomatoes

Tomatoes are packed full of the antioxidant lycopene, which has shown to help protect against free-radical damage most notably seen in dementia patients.

4. Broccoli

While all green veggies are important and rich in antioxidants and vitamin C, broccoli is a superfood even among these healthy choices.

Since your brain uses so much fuel (it’s only 3% of your body weight but uses up to 17% of your energy), it is more vulnerable to free-radical damage and antioxidants help eliminate this threat.

Broccoli is packed full of antioxidants, is well-known as a powerful cancer fighter and is also full of vitamin K, which is known to enhance cognitive function.

5. Foods Rich in Essential Fatty Acids

Your brain is the fattest organ (not counting the skin) in the human body, and is composed of 60% fat. That means that your brain needs essential fatty acids like DHA and EPA to repair and build up synapses associated with memory.

The body does not naturally produce essential fatty acids so we must get them in our diet.

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Eggs, flax, and oily fish like salmon, sardines, mackerel and herring are great natural sources of these powerful fatty acids. Eggs also contain choline, which is a necessary building block for the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, to help you recall information and concentrate.

6. Soy

Soy, along with many other whole foods mentioned here, are full of proteins that trigger neurotransmitters associated with memory.

Soy protein isolate is a concentrated form of the protein that can be found in powder, liquid, or supplement form.

Soy is valuable for improving memory and mental flexibility, so pour soy milk over your cereal and enjoy the benefits.

7. Dark Chocolate

When it comes to chocolate, the darker the better. Try to aim for at least 70% cocoa. This yummy desert is rich in flavanol antioxidants which increase blood flow to the brain and shield brain cells from aging.

Take a look at this article if you want to know more benefits of dark chocolate: 15 Surprising and Science-Backed Health Effects of Dark Chocolate

8. Foods Rich in Vitamins: B vitamins, Folic Acid, Iron

Some great foods to obtain brain-boosting B vitamins, folic acid and iron are kale, chard, spinach and other dark leafy greens.

B6, B12 and folic acid can reduce levels of homocysteine in the blood. Homocysteine increases are found in patients with cognitive impairment like Alzheimer’s, and high risk of stroke.

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Studies showed when a group of elderly patients with mild cognitive impairment were given high doses of B6, B12, and folic acid, there was significant reduction in brain shrinkage compared to a similar placebo group.[3]

Other sources of B vitamins are liver, eggs, soybeans, lentils and green beans. Iron also helps accelerate brain function by carrying oxygen. If your brain doesn’t get enough oxygen, it can slow down and people can experience difficulty concentrating, diminished intellect, and a shorter attention span.

To get more iron in your diet, eat lean meats, beans, and iron-fortified cereals. Vitamin C helps in iron absorption, so don’t forget the fruits!

9. Foods Rich in Zinc

Zinc has constantly demonstrated its importance as a powerful nutrient in memory building and thinking. This mineral regulates communications between neurons and the hippocampus.

Zinc is deposited within nerve cells, with the highest concentrations found in the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for higher learning function and memory.

Some great sources of zinc are pumpkin seeds, liver, nuts, and peas.

10. Gingko Biloba

This herb has been utilized for centuries in eastern culture and is best known for its memory boosting brawn.

It can increase blood flow in the brain by dilating vessels, increasing oxygen supply and removing free radicals.

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However, don’t expect results overnight: this may take a few weeks to build up in your system before you see improvements.

11. Green and Black Tea

Studies have shown that both green and black tea prevent the breakdown of acetylcholine—a key chemical involved in memory and lacking in Alzheimer’s patients.

Both teas appear to have the same affect on Alzheimer’s disease as many drugs utilized to combat the illness, but green tea wins out as its affects last a full week versus black tea which only lasts the day.

Find out more about green tea here: 11 Health Benefits of Green Tea (+ How to Drink It for Maximum Benefits)

12. Sage and Rosemary

Both of these powerful herbs have been shown to increase memory and mental clarity, and alleviate mental fatigue in studies.

Try to enjoy these savory herbs in your favorite dishes.

When it comes to mental magnitude, eating smart can really make you smarter. Try to implement more of these readily available nutrients and see just how brainy you can be!

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Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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