Thursday, July 24, 2014

Americans Are Buttering Up More
March 6, 2014 by John Parker | No Comments

People sometimes hear the expression that someone is being "buttered up." Usually it means being nice to someone for some reason. What is happening is…

People sometimes hear the expression that someone is being “buttered up.” Usually it means being nice to someone for some reason. What is happening is that Americans as a nation are “buttering up” again. They are realizing the healthful and good tasting qualities of butter and are increasing their use of this excellent dairy product.

Recent information from the American Butter Institute says Americans have increased their use of butter to 5.6 pounds per person each year, a 40-year high. Anuja Miner, executive director of the Institute, says this trend is resulting from the desire to eat fewer processed foods.

Other factors are also a part of the decision to eat more butter. Evidence reported recently in the well-respected British Medical Journal indicates that saturated fats found in butter and other animal products provide anti-cancer benefits and a significantly lower risk of heart attacks.

Dairy products do contain saturated fats but they also contain ingredients that help reduce the risk of heart diseases. According to the publication “Feedstuffs,” Dr. Aseem Malhotra, a cardiology specialist from Croydon Hospital in London, reviewed 21 studies concerning saturated fats. He concluded that there is no convincing evidence that connects saturated fats with heart disease.

A 2002 study by the National Academy of Science Institute of Medicine found that trans fats have a greater effect on the risk of heart attacks than saturated fats. Butter substitutes and other highly processed foods can have various amounts of trans fats.

While the term “all natural” is over used and does not mean much in talking about foods, take a look at butter compared to the substitutes. Get a pound of butter and read the label. Ingredients are usually pasteurized sweet cream, natural flavors and salt, if it is salted. People buy the unsalted because they don’t like the extra salt in their foods.

Then, read the label on a package of the butter substitutes. It may read like a chemists list of laboratory ingredients. So, if natural is a term that interests an individual, butter fills the bill.

Some nutrition researchers speculate that removing fats from people’s diets over the last 40 or 50 years has led to the obesity problem. Fats are a major source of food flavoring. When they were eliminated, food companies used more sugar to improve taste. This extra sugar has increased our waistlines, caused more high blood pressure and other issues related to diabetes and heart disease.

Butter promotion from chefs and a few media food experts, who have checked the research, have also helped increase use of the spread. It has long been preferred by bakers for its better flavor and baking qualities.

While the trans versus saturated fat story is getting more publicity, not all doctors have agreed that one is better than the other. One may want to ask the doctor for his or her opinion on the two fats.

If one goes back 60 or 70 years, one finds much more butter was eaten in the 1930s and ’40s than is eaten today, even with increased use. Grandma and Mom recognized the better flavor of butter over substitutes. Also, many families used the cream from their own milk cows and made their own butter. Substitutes couldn’t compete.

So, it is a good trend that people are realizing the healthful qualities of butter and eating more of it. It can’t be beat on a piece of warm toast.

Parker is an independent agricultural writer.

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