10 Amazing Benefits of Butter

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

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Butter is a very beneficial part of our diet that can improve our immune system, regulate hormones, protect vision, boost metabolism, increase brain function, reduce chances of heart disease and blood pressure, and protect us from cancer. Furthermore, it can protect against gastrointestinal conditions, while ensuring proper development of the brain and nervous system development.

What is Butter?

Butter is a dairy product that forms when milk or cream is churned, either from a fermented or a fresh source. This physical manipulation of the liquid changes it from an oil-in-water emulsion to a water-in-oil emulsion, because the membranes of fats are broken down and they join together to increase thickness and create the consistency that butter requires. When this chunkier, thicker emulsion if put in the refrigerator, the different variations of fat begin to solidify and mix, resulting in the apparent solid of butter, which softens at room temperature to the spreadable dairy product we all know and love. It is traditionally derived from animal milk, most commonly cows, so butter, as with most dairy products, is produced mainly in areas with cows. However, other kinds of butter can also be derived from milk animals like sheep, buffalo, goats, and yaks.

There is evidence that butter has been used in various cultural cuisines for more than 4,000 years, and in-depth studies of Indian culture, as well as the Bible, tell us that it has been around for millennia, has long been considered sacred, and has long been respected for its nutritious potential. However, in recent decades, a shift in opinion has given butter something of a bad name, and people are turning towards margarine, or other overly processed and chemically altered substitutes, rather than butter. Not only is this decreasing the amount of organic food that is in the diet, but also eliminating all of the health benefits that butter can bring to your life.

Nutritional Value of butter

These positive qualities of butter are mainly due to the impressive amounts of vitamins and minerals that are found in it. According to the USDA National Nutrient Database, it has vitamins A, D, E, and K, as well as essential minerals like manganese, chromium, iodine, zinc, copper, and selenium. This is only a partial list of the most notable and important benefits, but with the wide array of nutrients in butter, more potential benefits are being discovered all the time. Butter is mainly composed of fats, not all of which are harmful, and many of which are essential to human health!

Sliced butter with a knife on a wooden plate

Early breakfast Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Health Benefits of Butter

The benefits of butter are mentioned below.

Powerful Antioxidant

Nutrition Facts

Butter, without salt
Serving Size :
Water [g]16.17
Energy [kcal]717
Energy [kJ]2999
Protein [g]0.85
Total lipid (fat) [g]81.11
Ash [g]0.09
Carbohydrate, by difference [g]0.06
Sugars, total including NLEA [g]0.06
Calcium, Ca [mg]24
Iron, Fe [mg]0.02
Magnesium, Mg [mg]2
Phosphorus, P [mg]24
Potassium, K [mg]24
Sodium, Na [mg]11
Zinc, Zn [mg]0.09
Copper, Cu [mg]0.02
Manganese, Mn [mg]0
Selenium, Se [µg]1
Fluoride, F [µg]2.8
Thiamin [mg]0.01
Riboflavin [mg]0.03
Niacin [mg]0.04
Pantothenic acid [mg]0.11
Vitamin B-6 [mg]0
Folate, total [µg]3
Folate, food [µg]3
Folate, DFE [µg]3
Choline, total [mg]18.8
Vitamin B-12 [µg]0.17
Vitamin A, RAE [µg]684
Retinol [µg]671
Carotene, beta [µg]158
Vitamin A, IU [IU]2499
Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) [mg]2.32
Vitamin K (phylloquinone) [µg]7
Fatty acids, total saturated [g]50.49
4:0 [g]3.23
6:0 [g]2.01
8:0 [g]1.19
10:0 [g]2.53
12:0 [g]2.59
14:0 [g]7.44
16:0 [g]21.7
17:0 [g]0.56
18:0 [g]10
20:0 [g]0.14
Fatty acids, total monounsaturated [g]23.43
16:1 [g]1.82
16:1 c [g]0.96
18:1 [g]20.4
18:1 c [g]16.98
20:1 [g]0.1
Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated [g]3.01
18:2 [g]1.83
18:2 n-6 c,c [g]2.17
18:2 CLAs [g]0.27
18:2 i [g]0.3
18:3 [g]1.18
18:3 n-3 c,c,c (ALA) [g]0.32
18:1 t [g]2.98
Cholesterol [mg]215
Beta-sitosterol [mg]4
Tryptophan [g]0.01
Threonine [g]0.04
Isoleucine [g]0.05
Leucine [g]0.08
Lysine [g]0.07
Methionine [g]0.02
Cystine [g]0.01
Phenylalanine [g]0.04
Tyrosine [g]0.04
Valine [g]0.06
Arginine [g]0.03
Histidine [g]0.02
Alanine [g]0.03
Aspartic acid [g]0.06
Glutamic acid [g]0.18
Glycine [g]0.02
Proline [g]0.08
Serine [g]0.05
Sources include : USDA
Natural butter contains high levels of carotene, an unusual and essential nutrient for human beings. Carotene contributes to human health in two ways, either turning into antioxidants or converting into vitamin A. In terms of antioxidants, about 60% of carotene taken in by the body is changed into these disease-fighting compounds in the body. These antioxidants are anti-infectious and can provide a boost to your immune system. Since vitamin A is fat-soluble, it can benefit those parts of the body that have fat-soluble membranes, like the skin, eyes, mouth, throat, as well as the urinary and digestive tracts. There, it can promote cell regrowth and repair, protecting it from vulnerability to infectious substances.

Furthermore, vitamin A boosts the immune system by stimulating the production of lymphocytes, the immune system’s defensive cells that protect against viruses, and various diseases. High levels of vitamin A can improve your defenses against respiratory infections, as well as autoimmune diseases like AIDS.

Anti-cancer Properties

High levels of vitamin A and beta-carotene have also been widely studied, and positive connections between these two nutrients and lower chances of colorectal and prostate cancer have been found. More research is still being done on vitamin A’s impact on breast cancer, but studies so far have been promising. The benefit comes from the antioxidant capabilities of vitamin A because they actively defend against cancerous growth and promote apoptosis (spontaneous cell death) within tumors, slowing down the metastasis of cancerous cells.

Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) has also been found in significant levels in butter and has been connected in studies as a cancer prevention method, according to published reports in The Journal of Nutrition. All in all, butter, when consumed in moderate quantities, can reduce your chances of developing cancer! However, a higher intake of vitamin A when combined with smoking has been shown to increase the chances of lung cancer, so smokers should turn towards vitamin C for their antioxidant needs, rather than vitamin A.

Reduced Intestinal Conditions

Among the many components of butter, it also contains glycosphingolipids. This special type of fatty acid can protect your body against several gastrointestinal issues and conditions, by contributing to the mucus layers along the membrane and making it more difficult for bacterial infections to bind to functioning receptors. Butter has a high level of glycosphingolipids within it, primarily because it is derived from another animal, so adding butter to your diet can increase your defenses in your stomach and digestive tracts.

Improved Cardiovascular Health

Many people are shocked to hear that natural butter can work to improve the health of your heart, rather than reduce it! Butter contains HDL cholesterol, also considered “good” cholesterol. This omega-3 fatty acid reduces the presence of omega-6 fatty acid (“bad” cholesterol) which can clog up arteries and lead to atherosclerosis, heart attack, and stroke. William E. Connor from Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Clinical Nutrition, Oregon Health Sciences University, Portland, in a detailed research study, stated the importance of omega-3 on overall health. However, the reason that butter gets a bad name is due to the presence of both types of cholesterol. That being said, organic butter does have good cholesterol, and also higher levels of good cholesterol than what is found in processed butter and margarine.

Better Thyroid Health

Our thyroid gland is arguably the most important part of our endocrine system and one of the essential relationships that it has is with vitamin A. Most people that have hypothyroidism or other thyroid-related diseases are also deficient in vitamin A. This helps the proper functioning and regulating of hormones to be created and secreted throughout the body. Butter has more vitamin A than any other type of vitamin, so if you have thyroid issues, or want to prevent them from occurring, be sure to include butter in moderate amounts in your diet.

Healthy Sexual Performance

Many of the fat-soluble vitamins that can be found in butter are essential to human health because they are necessary to take nutrients out of water-soluble vitamins. Studies have shown that many of these fat-soluble vitamins can even improve sexual performance. Both vitamin A and D are important for proper brain and nervous system developments, but they are also needed for sexual development. Without those fats, as well as vitamin E, all men and women can experience a type of nutritional sterility, where their sexual characteristics don’t appear properly. It is no surprise that rates of sexual dysfunction and sterility have increased dramatically in recent decades since butter consumption has declined. Butterfat is the best source of fat-soluble vitamins we have, yet many people are completely losing that part of their nutritive intake.

Eye Care

Beta-carotene, which is found in such high levels in butter, has long been known as a booster for eye health. It contributes to the protection of the eyes, as well as in stimulating additional cellular growth, retarding the onset of cataracts, and reducing the chances of macular degeneration. It also decreases the risk of angina pectoris and other eye-related conditions.

Arthritis Prevention

Butter contains a rare hormone-like substance that can only be found in butter and cream. It is called the Wulzen Factor, and it protects people from calcification of the joints, which leads to arthritis. This same factor can also protect humans from the hardening of the arteries, calcification of the pineal gland, and as mentioned above, cataracts. This is only found in animal fats like cream or milk, but pasteurization eliminates the Wulzen Factor, so butter substitutes and margarine lose that vital benefit. Studies have shown that baby calves that are given substitute formula without the Wulzen factor do not survive until it is replaced with organic butterfat.

Improved Bone Health

Aside from the anti-stiffness factor explained above, butter is also rich in essential minerals, like manganese, zinc, copper, and selenium. These are all important elements in maintaining bone health and stimulating bone repair and regrowth. Without a steady intake of these minerals, both essential and trace, you will develop osteoporosis, arthritis, and suffer from other symptoms of premature aging.

Some of those minerals, like selenium and manganese, also have other functions. Selenium is integral to proper thyroid and immune system function, while manganese is necessary to create blood, just like iron, though in smaller quantities.

Nutritional Absorption

As if all of these benefits are not good enough, butter also gives us something called Activator X, a mysterious vitamin and catalyst found in animals with specific diets, like grazing cows. It has an amazing ability to increase the efficiency of the body when taking in nutrients from food sources, making the most use out of every nutrient that passes through our systems.

Word of Caution: Despite the health benefits of butter, it is important not to forget that it is still composed mainly of fats, which can wreak havoc on certain people, particularly those with poor diets, who are obese, or are trying to lose weight. Butter does contain unhealthy cholesterol, and if too much is consumed, it can lead to many health problems, like heart disease, cancer, obesity, and all the other related health conditions that accompany those. All good things should be taken in moderation, and never above the required amounts. Consult your doctor to get a reading on your overall cholesterol health and risk of heart disease before switching back to butter for its other health benefits.

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About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, publisher and photographer with English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana (USA). He co-founded the literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and now serves as the Content Director for Stain’d Arts, a non-profit based in Denver, Colorado. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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