Once villainized, butter has had a resurgence as a component in a wholesome diet in recent years. In 2014, the New York Times ran a widely read story with the catchy headline "Butter Is Back." Now a new study has spun the catchy phrase in research titled "Is Butter Back?, a meta-review of studies published in the journal PLOS ONE. And increasingly, nutritional wisdom is urging us to eat more fat. So is this study another excuse to slip more butter into your next round of scrambled eggs?
Sadly, parsing the results isn’t as easy as, well, a hot knife through butter: “Our findings suggest that either eating butter, or avoiding it, will not have much effect on your health," says study author Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian. "Many foods are better choices — such as extra-virgin olive oil, vegetable margarines, nuts, fish, fruits, yogurt — and many are worse: white bread, white potatoes, soda, sugars, processed meats, fast foods.” In other words, a little butter isn't going to enhance your longevity, but it's also not likely to impact your health in a negative way, as previous judgment held. But thanks to studies like this, among others, scientists can clearly say that butter and other foods with saturated fats were wrongly demonized for causing heart disease.
It is important to pay attention to the kind of butter you buy, experts emphasize. "From a nutrient standpoint, I would recommend opting for grass-fed butter when available," says Lisa Hayim, a New York City–based nutritionist. Most cows are fed corn and soy, whereas grass-fed cows graze on a natural diet of grass — what nature intended them to eat. Most cows are fed corn and soy, but grass-fed cows graze only on the green stuff. “Grass-fed butter is also high in vitamin K, which is important for optimal heart health, because it keeps calcium from building up in the arteries," adds Hayim. That makes it worth the extra buck or two you'll pay at the check-out counter."