It’s funny how Americans get off-track sometimes. Our marketing, our “fads”, and our corporate advertising seem to pave the way for consumers to keep buying unhealthy things. Once a product is approved by the FDA – healthy or not – it takes decades to reverse the trends.
This is happening with good ole’ butter.
But, butter late than never!
- Your immune system loves butter. Vitamin A found in butter is essential to a healthy immune system.Vitamin A found in butter is a critical nutrient for the health of the thyroid and adrenal glands, which both play a role in heart and cardiovascular health.
- Butter is America’s best and most easily absorbed source of vitamin A.
- Hydrogenated fats found in polyunsaturated oils, margarines, and many butter substitutes have been shown to have a toxic effect on the immune system.
- Butter is a good dietary source of healthy cholesterol, which is a potent anti-oxidant in your blood. A Medical Research Council survey showed that men eating butter ran half the risk of developing heart disease as those using margarine.
- Butter also contains a number of anti-oxidants that protect against free radical damage that weakens the arteries. Vitamins A and E found in butter both play a strong anti-oxidant role. Butter is a very rich source of selenium, a vital anti-oxidant, containing more selenium per gram than herring or wheat germ.
- Butter contains lecithin, a substance that assists in the proper assimilation and metabolism of cholesterol, and other fat components.
In comparison to margarine, butter contains many nutrients that protect people from heart disease.
A Little History
Around 1860, the transition began from making butter on the farm to creameries mass-producing butter using machinery. The factory system of butter-making gained tremendous momentum with the introduction of the centrifugal cream separator and the invention of a simple method by which the exact butter fat content of milk and cream could be determined by the creamery operator. Tightly-made oak barrels kept the butter fresh up to four months without refrigeration, and permitted shipment to distant markets.
As countries grew and communities evolved, many people didn’t have cows anymore, so they bought their milk and butter from local farmers. “Dairy butter” was collected as “pats,” “balls,” “rolls,” and “prints.” Butter stamps and molds, carved in various styles and patterns, were used in dairies to decorate blocks or rounds of butter.
Dairy was now a big deal.
Many products are born from war, and margarine was one of them. Margarine was discovered in 1869 by Hippolyte Mege Mouries, a French food research chemist, in response to Napoleon III’s request for a wholesome butter alternative. The primary aim was to supply food to the French army that would not spoil.
In his laboratory, Mouries solidified purified fat and pressed it in a thin cloth, which discharged oil. This oil formed the basis of the butter substitute.
For his new product, Mouries used margarine acid, a fatty acid component isolated in 1813 by the Frenchman Michel Eugene Chevreuil. Analyzing the fatty acids that are the building blocks of fats, he singled out one and named it margaric acid, because of the lustrous pearly drops that reminded him of the Greek word for pearls, margarites.
In the early days, margarine contained two types of fat – a large proportion of animal fat and a small proportion of vegetable fat. Over time, the small vegetable element increased, mostly due to availability and cost.
There were two stages in this process. First, by improving the refining of vegetable oils, manufacturers could use a greater variety of liquid oils and a higher proportion of solid vegetable fats. Secondly, through the increasing technology of turning liquid oils into solid fats on a commercial scale, manufacturers could use larger quantities of liquid vegetable oils.
This new discovery rapidly spread throughout Europe, especially during war time.
Butter got a bad rap in the United States after WWI when margarine was brought on the open market. Like so many products today (the chemical sweeteners, are another prime example), crafty marketing and advertising popularized this sub-standard product, and margarine pushed good-ole-natural-butter off American tabletops with the fear of heart disease.
As we are now figuring out, butter has always been better, any way you slice it.
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Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only, and is educational in nature. The FDA may not have evaluated some of the statements. This article is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Please discuss with your own, qualified health care provider before adding supplements or making any changes to your dietary program.