For all of you who have given up eating butter thinking 1. it is bad for you and 2. eating it will make you fat, take note: we, the American people , have been fed(pun intended) a whole lot of misinformation about what is good for us and what is unhealthy since around the 1970’s, maybe even earlier. As we have discussed in previous posts, it is just so confusing to know what is fact and what is fiction when it comes to healthy eating. What is someone who needs to , and perhaps loves to , eat to do????
I guess it always comes back to basics, like most things in life. Personally, I have often been quite skeptical that food that comes from a NATURAL source and that is close to that natural state could possibly be bad for us when eaten in moderation. Honestly, how did eggs become so demonized for so long? For a long time, all we heard about in the media was that eating eggs leads to high cholesterol and heart disease. That just never made sense to me. Eggs are loaded with nutrients: one egg contains 75 calories, 5 grams of fat(1.6 grams saturated fat: the good kind, by the way), iron, vitamins, minerals and carotenoids(believed to prevent macular degeneration). It also contains disease-fighting nutrients and choline, which enhances brain development and memory. Hmmm, now how are eggs bad for you, unless you perhaps are allergic to them? Of course, we always recommend that you consume products that are organically raised and locally produced whenever possible for optimal wellness and a smaller environmental footprint.
So getting back to the butter controversy. I grew up in the 1950’s and 1960’s when margarine was all the rage. I never liked it personally and couldn’t wait to go to my Ukrainian grandmother’s apartment in Brooklyn where she kept unsalted butter on a plate in her kitchen: soft to spread and yummy to eat on her freshly baked loaves of Challah: a little slice of heaven. A far cry from margarine spread on a piece of Wonder bread or a Thomas’s English muffin(delicious but devoid of any real nutritional value). Funny thing is, my grandmother also had Velveeta in her apartment: what is that ‘cheese food product’ even made of that it can sit on a shelf unrefrigerated for years??? I did love it though as a kid: there was something almost magical about it, probably because my mom, who did stock margarine and TV dinners , would never allow us to have it at home. A little bit of parental wisdom here: if you want your kids to eat something, make it a forbidden food: that will almost always guarantee that they will want it: the old reverse psychology trick.
As soon as I moved out on my own, I was able to make my own choices in terms of food purchases and I made the permanent switch to butter: usually unsalted because I love the flavor that comes through. And I have never given it up, despite all of the so-called research warning us of its link to cardiac disease. Again, I just didn’t buy it: it comes from milk, milk comes from a cow: and cows are animals, real live creatures, not products that are processed, wrapped up tightly and put on a shelf.
Mark Bittman, one of my favorite food writers, published a recent article in the NY Times : “Butter is Back” which does a terrific job of explaining why this is so:
So this is great news for all of you foodies out there and those of you need help making healthy eating choices. Of course, as the article states, eat butter in moderation, especially if you are trying to achieve or maintain a healthy weight. Always buy the best quality of food that you can afford, because quality really does matter. I always like to use Michael Pollan’s quote about who to eat in a health manner as a simple reminder: “Eat food(whole food), not too much, mostly plants”. If you follow this simple rule, not only will you achieve your optimal weight but you will feel fantastic AND know that you are enhancing your health overall.
Oh, and before I forget: another piece of wonderful news came out this week: Salt is also okay: more about that later. So I am going to feel really good when I eat my favorite TV watching snack: Freshly popped, on the stove of course, popcorn with butter and salt: I always called it my guilty pleasure but I guess I don’t need to feel so guilty about it after all.