This is a follow-up to the series on refined oils. For some reason, its seems like saturated fat, and really butter in particular, has taken on the role of a health food in the Paleo community. This is in spite of the fact that there is no evidence for this.
In efforts to fight the conception that “saturated fat is bad”, I think people have become brainwashed that saturated fat is good. But again, where is the evidence that this is so? (I’m concerned here with cardiovascular health.)
Well, butter tastes good. And butter has been around for a while. But so what! Sugar tastes good and also has been around for a while, but that doesn’t make it a health food.
So let’s look at the evidence…
Here’s a 10-year study with over 120,000 people. The conclusion:
“The role of dairy product consumption in mortality generally appeared to be neutral in men. In women, dairy fat intake was associated with slightly increased all-cause and IHD mortality”.
Here’s a study from 2012 on the subject:
“No associations were observed between plant or butter SF and CVD risk, but ranges of intakes were narrow.”
Here’s a study published in 2013:
“Cross-sectional analyses indicated that across increasing quartiles of butter intake, insulin (P trend=0.011), triacylglycerol (P trend=0.023), total cholesterol (P trend=0.002), and diastolic blood pressure (P trend=0.027) were higher. The present results confirm that consumption of milk predicts prospective blood pressure, whereas dairy product consumption, excluding butter, is not detrimental to arterial stiffness and metabolic markers”.
And there are a number of other studies. So let’s start with the premise that there is no association between butter intake and cardiovascular disease, or in other words, the relationship is neutral. How has a neutral relationship been transformed into a beneficial relationship?
If reducing heart disease is the goal, then why are some people advocating butter even though there is no evidence that it will lessen heart disease? Fruit and vegetable consumption has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease, so if people are substituting butter for fruits and vegetables then they are statistically worse off.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death among men and women. As such, the goal should be to reduce heart disease, not have a neutral effect on it.
Butter consumption does not reduce the risk of heart disease. Making vague references to “short-chain fatty acids”, “medium-chain triglycerides”, or “Weston Price” does not change any of this.
Neutral is not the same as beneficial!