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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.

Reference

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Last Updated on February 21, 2019

Top 9 Foods for Incredible Brian Health And Brain Power

Top 9 Foods for Incredible Brian Health And Brain Power

Your brain is the most intricate and powerful organ in your entire body. It’s essentially a super-computer with brain power like a Ferrari.

If you have a Ferrari, would you put cheap gasoline in it? Of course not. You want to put in high-octane performance fuel to get the most out of your investment.

When it comes to the brain, many people are looking for the top foods that will supercharge the brainpower to help focus better, think more clearly and have better brain health.

In this article, we’ll look at the top 9 brain foods that will help create supercharge your brain with energy and health:

1. Salmon

Salmon has long been held as a healthy brain food, but what makes this fish so valuable for your brain health?

It’s important to understand that your brain is primarily made up of fat. Roughly 60% of your brain is fat. One of the most important fats that the brain uses as a building block for healthy brain cells is omega-3’s.

Omega-3’s are essential for building a healthy brain but one of the most important omega-3’s for your brain is DHA. DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) forms nearly two-thirds of the omega-3’s found in your brain.[1]

Omega-3’s and DHA in particular help form the protective coating around our neurons. The better quality this coating is, the more efficient and effective our brain cells can work, allowing our brain power to work at full capacity.

Studies have shown that being deficient in DHA can affect normal brain development in children, which is why so many infant formulas and children’s supplements are beginning to include DHA.

Being deficient in DHA as an adult can cause focus and attention problems, mood swings, irritability, fatigue and poor sleep.

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2. Blueberries

Blueberries top the list as one of the most beneficial fruits to maximize your brain health and performance.

Blueberries have some of the highest content of antioxidants, particularly anthocyanins, than any other fruit, which helps protect the brain from stress and promote healthy brain aging.

Blueberries antioxidant content also help reduce inflammation, which allows the brain to maintain healthy energy levels.

Blueberries have begun to receive attention for their connection to brain performance.[2] Studies have demonstrated that eating blueberries on a regular basis can not only improve brain health but also brain performance as well including working memory.[3]

Blueberries not only taste great but are low in calories, high in Vitamin C, Vitamin K and Manganese.

3. Turmeric

Turmeric is a very impressive spice that has well-researched and proven to have tremendous benefits for your brain. Turmeric’s main compound that benefits the brain is called curcumin, which is responsible for turmerics bright yellow appearance.

Curcumin has been shown to have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-cancer properties.[4]

Curcumin increases the production and availability of two important neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine, two important neurotransmitters involved with happiness, motivation, pleasure, and reward.

Curcumin has been well documented to have powerful anti-depressive effects. In one study, it was found to be as effective for depression as popular medications such as SSRI’s like Prozac.[5]

Curcumin has also been shown to:

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  • Increase blood flow to the brain.[6]
  • Increase BDNF production, a powerful stimulator of neuroplasticity.[7]
  • Increase DHA availability and synthesis in the brain.[8]
  • Increase antioxidant levels in the brain to prevent brain aging and inflammation.[9]

4. Coffee

Coffee is the wonderful elixir of energy that many people cherish every single morning. The biggest reason people drink coffee is to get a dose of caffeine.

Caffeine is a natural neurological stimulant that not only gives you energy but also prevents adenosine, a neurotransmitter involved with feeling tired, from binding in the brain.

Many people are surprised to find that coffee actually contains a large quantity of antioxidants called polyphenols, which are important for reducing inflammation in the brain and keep your brain energized. The antioxidants in coffee also provide a neuroprotective effect, protecting the brain from stress and damage. [R]

Coffee can also:

  • Improve alertness and concentration.[10]
  • Help with neurodegenerative disorders like Parkinson’s disease.[11]
  • Reduce your risk of depression.[12]
  • Improve your memory.
  • Provide short-term boost in athletic performance.[13]

5. Broccoli

What was your least favorite food as a kid growing up?

Most likely, broccoli was your answer.

Broccoli may not have been your top choice, but it might be the top choice for your brain.

Broccoli contains a compound called sulforaphane. Sulforaphane has been shown to promote the proliferation and survival of brain cells by reducing inflammation and boosting production of BDNF. It has also been shown to boost neurogenesis, the production of new brain cells.[14]

Broccoli is also loaded with important nutrients Vitamin K and Folate. Vitamin K plays a vital role in protecting brain cells.[15] Folate plays a crucial role in detoxification and reducing inflammation in the brain.

6. Bone broth

Bone broth wasn’t just created to combine with soups, you can actually drink bone broth by itself.

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Drinking bone broth has become one of the biggest trends in the health and wellness industry and for good reason. Bone broth isn’t actually a new thing. Bone broth has been used for centuries as a healing tonic to promote health and longevity.

Much of the nutritional benefits and value of bone broth comes from its substantial vitamin and mineral content. Primarily calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, and potassium.

Your gut is called your second brain for a reason. Research continually shows that there is a direct and indirect connection between your gut and your brain. Your gut also houses and stores many important brain compounds involved with optimal brain performance. Therefore the health of your gut is vitally important for your brain health and performance.

Bone broth has become a go-to tool for helping heal the gut and provide the gut with the vital nutrient and resources it needs to heal and perform optimally.

With the vast amounts of nutrients that bone broth contains, it makes the list as a go-to food for your brain health.

Look for high quality, organic bone broth for the best results.

7. Walnuts

Walnuts are one of the top choices of nuts for brain health. Walnuts also look similar to a brain.

Amongst the wide variety of nuts available, walnuts contain the highest amounts of the important omega-3 DHA. DHA, as seen above, is a critical building block for a healthy brain.

Walnuts also contain high amounts of antioxidants, folate, magnesium, potassium, and phosphorus, which help to lower inflammation.

Melatonin in walnuts is an important nutrient for regulating your sleep. Having low amounts of melatonin can make it challenging to get good quality sleep and getting poor quality sleep can dramatically impair brain health and performance.

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8. Eggs

For years, eggs were put on the nutritional naughty list; but now, eggs are finally getting the credit they deserve. Eggs can provide a tremendous boost to your brain health and longevity.

Eggs, particularly the yolks, contain a compound called choline. Choline is essential for building the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. Acetylcholine plays an important role in mood, memory, and intelligence.

Egg yolks contain some of the highest quantities of choline. This is very important because low levels of choline can lead to low levels of acetylcholine, which in turn can cause increased inflammation, brain fog, difficulty concentrating and fatigue.

9. Dark chocolate

You’re about to love chocolate even more because chocolate, particularly dark chocolate, is great for your brain.

Chocolate boosts levels of endorphins, your brains “feel good” chemicals. This is why you feel so good eating chocolate.[16]

Chocolate also increases blood flow to the brain which can help improve memory, attention, focus, and reaction time.[17]

Dark chocolate contains high levels of magnesium, which has been coined “natures valium” for its ability to calm and relax the brain.

Lastly, dark chocolate has one of the highest antioxidant profiles out of any other food, including popular superfoods like acai berries, blueberries, or pomegranates.[18]

Conclusion

Your brain is a high performing organ and it uses quite a lot of energy, roughly 20% of the bodies energy demands.

In order to maintain a healthy brain, you need the right fuel to ensure that your brain has all the nutrients it needs to perform as well as adapt to the stress of life.

If you want to keep your brain performing well for a lifetime, then you want to make sure you are including as many of these brain health foods as possible.

More Resources About Boosting Brain Power

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: DHA Effects in Brain Development and Function
[2] Canadian Science Publishing: Enhanced task-related brain activation and resting perfusion in healthy older adults after chronic blueberry supplementation
[3] US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Cognitive effects following acute wild blueberry supplementation in 7- to 10-year-old children.
[4] US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Curcumin: the Indian solid gold.
[5] Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects. 2nd edition.: Turmeric, the Golden Spice
[6] US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Effect of combined treatment with curcumin and candesartan on ischemic brain damage in mice.
[7] Science Direct: Curcumin reverses the effects of chronic stress on behavior, the HPA axis, BDNF expression and phosphorylation of CREB
[8] US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Curcumin boosts DHA in the brain: Implications for the prevention of anxiety disorders.
[9] PLOS: A Chemical Analog of Curcumin as an Improved Inhibitor of Amyloid Abeta Oligomerization
[10] US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Effects of Caffeine on Cognitive Performance, Mood, and Alertness in Sleep-Deprived Humans
[11] American Academy of Neurology: A Cup of Joe May Help Some Parkinson’s Disease Symptoms
[12] American Academy of Neurology: AAN 65th Annual Meeting Abstract
[13] US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Effects of caffeine on the metabolic and catecholamine responses to exercise in 5 and 28 degrees C.
[14] US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Hyperammonemia induces glial activation, neuroinflammation and alters neurotransmitter receptors in hippocampus, impairing spatial learning: reversal by sulforaphane
[15] Oxford Academic: Vitamin K and the Nervous System: An Overview of its Actions
[16] Diana L. Walcutt, Ph.D: Chocolate and Mood Disorders
[17] Health Magazine: Chocolate can do good things for your heart, skin and brain
[18] Chemistry Central Journal: Cacao seeds are a “Super Fruit”: A comparative analysis of various fruit powders and products

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