It seems unfair that most food items that we cherish so dearly are not really the best for our health. Take butter for instance, or even meat. The flavour of a steak done in butter or even a hot toast slathered with a generous spread of the fat makes it taste so good. But then again, health experts would always advise you against indulging in too much of it. While the debate seem to continue on whether saturated fats – such as butter – is good or bad for health, one thing is certain that too much of it can definitely lead to heart diseases, causing blockage of arteries. Butter is said to contain 51% of saturated fats. Portion control is the health mantra. You can savour different kinds of food provided you have them in little portions. The times we live in today, with chemicals, additives and what not in our food, it is imperative that we are mindful of what we are eating.
Since butter is a fat source, too much of it is bound to cause various ailments. According to a study done by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in the US, they found that people who consumed 12 grams per day of butter had a two-fold higher risk of developing diabetes.
What Makes Butter Harmful?
While the debate on saturated fats being good or bad for health continues, it is important to note that more than anything, what makes butter harmful is that it is a processed food product. Unlike the desi white butter which is made at home by churning malai or milk cream, the store-brought butter is prepared by emulsifying milk fat in water with milk proteins acting as emulsifying agents, and salt is added in the later stages. It contains transfats which is the worst kind.
According to Marta Guasch-Ferre, lead author of the study, saturated and animal fat such as cheese and butter that are rich in saturated fatty acids and trans fats, their intake creates greater risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, whereas whole-fat yogurt intake is associated with a lower risk. Consumption of dietary fat has been previously associated with cardiovascular disease. For the study, the team analysed data from 3,349 participants who were free of diabetes at baseline but at high cardiovascular risk. After four-and-half years of follow-up, 266 participants developed diabetes
Benefits of Plant-Based Diets
With numerous reports on the harmful effects of animal-based food products , the switch to plant-based diet was only inevitable. Health experts have always advised to include more plant-based foods in one’s regular diet as compared to including red meat, butter, cheese, etc. The findings in the study showed that plant-based diets – rich in legumes, whole-grain cereals, fruits, vegetables and nuts – were more beneficial for health than animal-based foods such as red meat and processed meat, and also have less impact on the environment.
In addition, a Mediterranean diet – rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, high on healthy fats like olive oil and low in refined sugars and saturated fats — may be useful for preventing chronic diseases, particularly Type 2 diabetes, the researchers stated in the paper, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
It is not without reason that the Mediterranean diet is considered to be the healthiest of all. It typically includes unsaturated fats found in olive oil, nuts and avocados, along with vegetables like spinach, celery and carrots that are rich in nitrites and nitrates. The protective effect of the Mediterranean diet comes at least in part from the nitro fatty acids generated which inhibit soluble Epoxide Hydrolase to lower blood pressure. Plus these ingredients are also known to maintain blood sugar.