Don't Bet on Better Butter?

Health Alert 207

Perhaps you cheered when Benacol and Take Control butter substitutes hit your supermarket a couple of years ago. Marketers told us these new wonder spreads would finally release you from your butter-deprived prison. So what if they were more expensive? At last, you could enjoy the taste of butter again and lower your cholesterol at the same time.

Scientists cheered too when they discovered how well the plant sterols used in these margarines knocked bad cholesterol down without affecting good cholesterol. That point certainly caught my attention.

Well, like so many other examples, these new experimental health foods turned out to be more experiment and less health than claimed. Today I’m going to talk to you about several serious problems with these wonder butters. You may be wise to save your money and buy real butter instead.

* New Worries with Wonder Butters *

The plant sterols in wonder butters supposedly reduce bad cholesterol. But when you scratch beneath the surface, you find a couple of big problems. For starters, the funding for the first glowing study came from none other than the Lipton Company – maker of Take Control butter substitute. And second, follow-up independent studies failed to show this benefit. And some suggest eating miracle spreads might make you more prone to have a stroke, particularly if you have high blood pressure.

Another big problem: They contain partially hydrogenated soybean oil. Partially hydrogenated oils contain trans fats. They are far more dangerous than cholesterol. Then, there’s the frightening long list of chemical additives. Further, we have no long-term studies to show that it is safe to consume these new miracle spreads.

* It’s Still Hard to Fool Mother Nature *

How do margarines stack up? More like plastic than food. Manufacturers heat assorted vegetable oils to extremely high temperatures to change their molecular structure. Then, they add nickel or aluminum and hydrogen atoms to make it a solid mass. Of course, then you need deodorants and dyes to mask the awful odor and ugly gray color. Plus some chemicals and preservatives to prevent this rancid oil from rotting.

When you want healthy butter, look no further than real butter. Avoid the industry’s polluting influence by getting butter from a grass-fed dairy cow. Real butter provides a rich source of vitamins A, E, K and D, and trace minerals such as selenium. Real butter also contains cancer-fighting essential fatty acids that may help reverse existing arteriosclerosis, decrease progression of osteoporosis, and aid in the management of glucose and insulin levels. .

Do yourself and your body a favor – throw out the miracle margarine and enjoy delicious real butter on your favorite heart healthy foods. No guilt and no compromises necessary.

Al Sears MD

Butter Substitutes: New Way to Lower Cholesterol?, Ag News and Public Affairs, Texas A & M

Why Butter is Better, Dr. Stephen Byrnes, ND, RNCP,