Butter has often been demonised and blamed for raising the risk of stroke and heart disease. But studies are now suggesting that eating one tablespoon of butter each day has little impact on overall mortality. The researchers also found that the misunderstood dairy product could even have a small effect in reducing the risk of diabetes.
How did these findings come about?
The researchers from Tufts University in Boston collected data on butter consumption and health risks from nine previous studies. These studies were compiled using the data from over 634,000 adults from 15 countries including the United States, the UK and Europe. The participants had an average age of between 44 and 71 years old. The scientists combined the data into a large meta-analysis to examine exactly how butter consumption was associated with heart disease, diabetes and mortality.
They noticed that each daily serving of one tablespoon of butter was associated with a 1% higher risk of death. In addition they found that butter consumption had no significant association with any type of cardiovascular disease including coronary heart disease or stroke.
Furthermore, there was a 4% lower risk of type 2 diabetes, although researchers said this needed more investigation.
What conclusions can we draw from this analysis?
Dr Aseem Malhotra, a cardiologist who advises the National Obesity Forum says: ” This high quality study clearly reveals that decades of demonising butter has been a huge mistake.
“I follow the advice I give to my patients which is, providing you cut the consumption of sugar and other refined carbohydrates, the regular consumption of butter can be very much part of a healthy diet.”
Tracy Parker of the British Heart Foundation says: ” While the findings of this review indicate a small or neutral association between butter consumption and increased cardiovascular risk, it does not give us the green light to start eating more butter. More investigations are needed into the effects of saturated fat.”
She goes on to say: ” What we do know is, fat is just one element of our diet. There are many factors which cause cardiovascular disease and no single food or nutrient is solely responsible for this.
” To protect your heart health we would recommend a balanced Mediterranean diet rich in fruit, vegetables and pulses.”
If you would like to read more about the benefits of a Mediterranean diet you can click on the link below to one of our earlier articles:
Laura Pimpkin, who co-authored the report at Tufts University and is now a data analyst for the UK Health Forum in London, summed up the findings by saying that butter was neither terribly bad nor incredibly good for us.
She went on to say: ” We know from recent studies that the effects of dairy fats on health are not as negative as saturated fat from other sources, so we were expecting butter to have a limited risk in causing disease.
” We were slightly surprised by the diabetes result: Butter intake appeared to have a very moderate protective effect.” But she did say that more studies were needed on the topic.
If you would like more advice about maintaining a healthy heart, please click on the link below to the British Heart Foundation website:
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