Skip to Main Content
1440_405-1116_628-768_432

Is Butter Bad for Your Heart?


July 20, 2017 Posted in: Heart Health , Article

If you're watching your heart health, you probably can't remember the last time you enjoyed a little butter on your bread without feeling guilty. Now, butter seems to be making a comeback in the debate on how diet affects cardiovascular health, and many of us are wondering, "Is butter bad for your heart or is the occasional pat OK?" Here's what you need to know.

Putting Butter in Perspective

Doctors frequently advise their heart patients to steer clear of butter. Why? More than half the fat in butter is saturated fat, which is a kind of fat that can increase total and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol. Just a tablespoon of butter packs 7 grams of saturated fat. That's twice as much as a small, 4-ounce portion of lean flank steak.

On the surface, that might sound fairly alarming. However, saturated fat isn't one single kind of fat. There are actually several kinds of saturated fats. Some of them are more harmful to your heart and cholesterol levels, and others are more benign. Because foods contain these fats in varying amounts, the saturated fat in butter is different from the saturated fat in, say, beef.

Butter is More than the Sum of Its Fats

As it turns out, some of the saturated fat in butter is made up of a unique saturated fat that doesn't seem to influence a person's chances of developing heart disease at all. What's more, butter isn't only made of fat. It also contains other nutrients that may offset its cholesterol-raising action. Perhaps that's why a recent study found that eating a tablespoon of butter a day had no significant impact on a person's risk of heart disease or stroke. Even more surprising, it ever so slightly reduced their odds of developing Type 2 diabetes.

Of course, it's also helpful to keep in mind that the recent butter study looked at the impact of eating only a tablespoon of butter a day, so it's entirely possible that people who eat small amounts of butter practice moderation in their eating overall.

Rethinking Old Advice

So, is butter bad for your heart? For now, the latest research hints that it's neither bad nor good. What we do know is that, when it comes to your heart, there are far more beneficial fats. Unsaturated fats from nuts, avocados, and olive and canola oils are linked to a reduced risk of heart disease. In fact, a recent study found that simply by replacing five percent of the saturated fat in a person's diet with healthier monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, their risk of dying an early death from any cause is reduced by 27 percent. Experts are also learning that the quality of a person's diet as a whole is far more important than the effect of any one nutrient or food.

To keep your heart at its healthiest, focus on eating more fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, and fish. Then, if you still want to spread a little butter on your whole-grain toast or baked sweet potato, go right ahead and enjoy it -- guilt free.

Breastfeeding for Working Moms: 5 Tips to Guide You

SEP 12, 2022

It's often said that breastfeeding is a full-time job. And in those first few weeks of motherhood, when it feels like you're feeding constantly, it certainly can be. But what happens a few months later when you have to go back to work?

Read More Additional information about Dignity Health | How to Make Breastfeeding for Working Moms Easy

The Importance of Prenatal Vitamins

SEP 12, 2022

It's important to remember that vitamins and supplements cannot take the place of a healthy diet. For example, pregnant women should eat multiple servings of fresh green vegetables and foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Higher doses of certain vitami...

Read More Additional information about Dignity Health | *

How to Know When a Child Injury Requires Medical Attention

SEP 11, 2022

Scrapes, bumps, and bruises from outdoor play are a child's rite of passage, but sometimes a fall or a tumble results in a more serious injury. For many parents, the problem is to know when a twisted ankle is just a minor sprain or something worse — ...

Read More Additional information about Dignity Health | How to Know When a Child Injury Requires Medical Attention