Is Butter Good Or Bad For You?

If you've ever thought twice about reaching for the butter to spread on your bagel, you're not alone. Most people know that butter is supposed to be bad for your health, but what if that isn't the whole story? As it turns out, butter is much more complex than simply being a source of artery-clogging saturated fat, and that fat is the key to understanding how butter impacts our diet.

According to Shape, the reputation of saturated fat as a major contributing factor in heart disease dates back to the 1948 Framingham Heart Study. Recently, however, researchers have discovered that this study, as well as others that called out saturated fat as unhealthy, were flawed. An analysis of internal documents from the sugar industry, done by the Journal of American Medical Association, revealed that the Sugar Research Foundation sponsored studies that pinpointed fat and cholesterol as the sources of heart disease.

Like everything else, though, saturated fat should be consumed in moderation. The most recent Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend limiting your calories from saturated fats to less than 10 percent of your daily intake.

The health benefits of butter

Butter also has some surprising benefits for the body. According to Healthline, it contains butyrate, a short-chain fatty acid that can help with digestive health. Butyrate has been shown to be helpful for things like irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn's disease, and insulin sensitivity. Butter is high in conjugated linoleic acid, which studies have shown may fight cancer and help with weight control. It also contains important vitamins like A, E, B12, and K.

All that being said, butter does come with 102 calories per serving (per tablespoon) and a whopping 11.5 grams of fat. Enjoying it in moderation is crucial to maintain a healthy diet. The average American eats about 5.6 pounds of butter each year, according to the Wall Street Journal, so most of us are getting more than enough. Mixing it up with other healthy fats like vegetable oil, nuts, and fatty fish is a good way to find the balance our bodies need.