Butter: Just because it's low-carb doesn't mean it's good

The diet I advocate in the Track Your Plaque program to gain control over the factors that lead us to coronary plaque and heart attack is a low-carbohydrate diet. We begin with elimination of wheat, cornstarch, oats, and sugars in the context of an overall carbohydrate-reduced diet. We refine the program by monitoring postprandial (after-meal) glucoses.

But not everything low-carb is good for you. Fried sausages, for instance, are exceptionally unhealthy, despite having little to no carbohydrates.

An emerging but potentially very powerful issue is that of Advanced Glycation End-products, or AGEs. There are two general varieties of AGEs: endogenous (formed within the body) and exogenous (formed in food that is consumed).

Endogenous AGEs form in the body as a result of high blood glucose, i.e., glycation. When exposed to any blood glucose level of 100 mg/dl or greater, some measure of glycation will develop due to a reaction between glucose and various proteins, e.g., proteins in the lens of the eye, forming cataracts over time.

Exogenous AGEs form in food, generally as a result of heating to high-temperature. (AGEs is really a catch-all term; there are actually a number of reactions that occur in foods, not all of them involving sugars. However, the "AGE" label is used to signify all the various related compounds. The values quoted here are from Dr. Helen Vlassara's Mt. Sinai Hospital laboratory; reference below.)

Beef cooked to high-temperature yields plentiful AGEs. One gram of roast beef, for instance, contains 306,238 units. This means that an 8-oz serving yields 13.8 million units AGEs. Compare this to a boiled egg with 573 units per gram, raw tomato with 234 units per gram.

Butter contains an impressive 264,873 units AGEs per gram, the highest content per gram in the entire list of 250 foods tested in the Mt. Sinai study. A couple pats of butter (10 g) therefore contains 2.64 million units. A stick of butter that you might add to cake batter to make a cake therefore yields 30 million units of AGEs.

So there's nothing wrong with the fat of butter. It's AGEs that appear to be responsible for the endothelial dysfunction/artery-constricting, insulin-blocking, oxidation and inflammation reactions that are triggered. Among all of our food choices, butter is among the worst from this viewpoint.

Throw in the peculiar "insulinotrophic" effect of butter, and you have potent distortion of metabolic pathways, courtesy of the butter on your lobster.

(AGE data from Goldberg 2004. In this analysis, carboxymethyllysine was the marker used for AGE content.)

Incidentally, the new Track Your Plaque diet will soon be released as chapter 9 of the new Track Your Plaque book on the website.

Comments (59) -

  • rhc

    10/20/2010 10:15:00 PM |

    Are you talking about cold butter consumed without heating?

  • GK

    10/20/2010 10:20:53 PM |

    And do exogenous AGEs make it into systemic circulation, or are they broken down into simpler forms on digestion?  That would be the crucial thing to know.

  • Anonymous

    10/20/2010 10:28:55 PM |

    food gone and water gone... we are to survive on air? no wait thats polluted too..

  • Anonymous

    10/20/2010 10:34:19 PM |

    Is there a way to mitigate potential damage caused by exogenous AGEs?

  • Tuck

    10/20/2010 11:20:34 PM |

    "The results indicate that diet can be a significant environmental source of AGEs, which may constitute a chronic risk factor for cardiovascular and kidney damage."

    I'll start worrying when they can do a little better than "may".

    We're back to the "Eating fat makes you fat" mindset here...

  • Cameron

    10/20/2010 11:29:46 PM |

    I'd echo the question about whether or not this issue is limited to over-heated butter or butter in general.

    Also, is there enough information in the source data to indicate whether or not clarifying the butter into ghee would offer any improvement?

  • Bill

    10/20/2010 11:50:56 PM |

    You promote soy, which is known to be bad for you, but dump on butter which is known to be good for you....

  • Anonymous

    10/21/2010 12:22:02 AM |

    From the article:
    "...(AGEs), the derivatives of glucose-protein or glucose-lipid interactions"

    Can anyone explain the glucose-lipid interactions in ...butter?! Sheesh! Talk about bad science, those people did not follow the DEFINITION, never mind the protocols!

  • Daniel

    10/21/2010 12:55:44 AM |

    Exogenous AGEs are handily dealt with my people with healthy metabolims.  

    I know that's not many of your patients, so if you consider this a patient blog, ignore my comment.  

    Many people think of this blog as a "paleo blog" or a "low-carb blog" but in recent months, you've been basing many of your posts (and thinking) on the metabolically impaired.

    I can eat a plain mashed potato for breafast without seeing my blood glucose go over 100.  Are potatoes bad for me?  I really don't think so.  2 million years of evolution suggests otherwise.  Are potatoes bad for your patients that have been poisoned by years of fructose and PUFA induced metabolic carnage?  Yes.

    Same for butter.  It's a convenient and healthy source of good quality fat.  It has a lot of AGEs, but you have presented ZERO evidence that dietary AGES are unhealthy for otherwise healthy PEOPLE.    In fact, such evidence doesn't exist.  

    So, Doctor, are you treating sick patients or trying to remain a figure in the world of the super healthy?

  • Jared M Johnson

    10/21/2010 1:25:41 AM |

    Is the high level of AGEs in butter due to pasteurization?

  • Anonymous

    10/21/2010 3:15:43 AM |

    not buyin' it

  • Robin

    10/21/2010 4:02:41 AM |

    You are slowly hacking away at all I hold dear. Sausages! Butter! Sigh.

  • Joel

    10/21/2010 4:30:49 AM |

    Dr. Eades addressed this issue in 2008 and came to a different conclusion:


    He specifically addresses the Goldberg 2004 study in the first comment:

    "I agree that there are vastly more AGEs in cooked foods, especially meats. What I’m not so sure about is whether or not the AGEs we eat end up as AGEs in us. The transit through the extreme acidity of the stomach would, I imagine, reduce the AGEs to their components, which we would absorb. The healthy human GI tract doesn’t have the ability to absorb large molecules. Even diglycerides (sugars composed of two other sugars, sucrose, for example) must be broken down to monoglycerides before being absorbed, so I seriously doubt that complex molecules such as AGEs could be absorbed in there native state. As a consequence, I’m not particularly worried about the AGEs I eat – I much more worried about the AGEs I create within."

    He also cites studies indicating that ketogenic diets reduce oxidative stress, despite butter and fried sausage being very common components of a ketogenic diet.

  • Joel

    10/21/2010 4:41:56 AM |

    Another one showing how vegetarians have higher levels of AGEs than omnivores:


    Most likely due to a high fructose intake.

  • Anonymous

    10/21/2010 6:20:16 AM |

    What about butter from grass-few cows, ghee, goat's butter, or high vitamin butter oil? Do you relate to them in the same way?

  • Hans Keer

    10/21/2010 7:17:02 AM |

    Are we talking about heated butter here? Dietary AGEs should not be a problem; unless you have a leaky gut, they don't make it into the bloodstream. The problem with butter is that it, like all dairy, raises insulin and it still contains growth hormones and dangerous proteins.

  • D.M.

    10/21/2010 7:53:04 AM |

    Couple of points.
    First, that very paper says that only about 10% of exogenous AGEs actually make it into circulation, so that automatically takes butter down to 26.5KU/g. Of course if a patient has advanced kidney failure then worry about exogenous AGEs should be a concern, but so should protein, potassium etc etc.

    Secondly, the focus on exogenous AGEs in this table is obviously one-sided. Saying that butter contains more AGEs than a bowl of fructose, ignores the fact that once inside the body, the carbohydrate will cause immeasurably more glycation than the fat. These researchers are quite obviously pushing an lipophobic agenda here and I wouldn't fall for it.

    Third, it's not just butter apparently, but olive oil is also 120KU/ml or about 900 times more than an apple. But it would surely be absurb to think that apples will glycate less then olive oil?

    Fourtly, there something extremely suspect about the fact that whole milk contains 5300 times less AGE than butter. This should make us think twice before thinking that there's something uniquely bad about dairy fat that this study has discovered.

  • medeldist

    10/21/2010 8:03:21 AM |

    I find it hard to believe that butter (you do mean butter made from cow-milk, not margarine?) and red meat, two natural products, could be unhealthy for you. Anecdotal evidence says otherwise.

  • JLL

    10/21/2010 9:20:08 AM |

    The studies on AGEs are most often done on animals that have problems to begin with (e.g. diabetes). It's not clear at all whether consuming (a reasonable amount of) AGEs is harmful for healthy individuals.

    I've also reported about the AGE content of butter (see the list of AGEs in various foods) and I don't quite understand how they got such a high reading for butter. Did they heat it up? The processing of butter doesn't seem like it should result in much AGEs since milk is pretty low in AGEs.

    Like most commenters, I'm more worried about AGEs produced inside the body than AGEs from foods. And I'm even more worried about ALEs (Advanced Lipid peroxidation End-products) than AGEs.

    See my blog for more posts on glycation and lipid peroxidation (and how to avoid them).

  • Greensmu

    10/21/2010 12:05:28 PM |

    With the combination of A1 beta casein and AGEs in typical butter I think clarified butter/ghee with the cholesterol, lactose, and casein removed should be an improvement.

    But I second D.M. on the milk/butter thing, even though (like everyone else apparently =p) I have not checked the study referenced. It would follow that if they are both pasteurized they should be similarly high in AGEs.

  • Peter

    10/21/2010 12:06:22 PM |

    How do we know that eating more AGE's damages our cardiovascular system?

  • Stephen

    10/21/2010 1:08:00 PM |

    This sounds rather similar to "eating cholesterol results in an increase in cholesterol in the blood which causes heart disease and thus death."

    And butter is bad while soy is good? I'm not buying it.

    As others have mentioned - what population are we talking about here?

  • Alfredo E.

    10/21/2010 1:39:40 PM |

    Very illuminating post. I had no idea that butter had all those AGEs, I use it liberally in my cooking. I wonder what to use now instead of butter, lard?

    It would be very illustrative to educate us in ways to cook meat at low temperature.

    Thanks for the wonderful information.

  • Anna Delin

    10/21/2010 2:02:45 PM |

    Would a measurement of CRP reveal the inflammation potentially caused by the AGEs i eat? If I maintain an ideal CRP for years on a butter-rich diet, should I still worry?

  • Anand Srivastava

    10/21/2010 2:54:41 PM |

    I wonder why we love the taste of roasted meat when it is supposedly so unhealthy.

    It makes sense that the AGEs will not reach the blood stream if you have a good digestive system. If not well everything is a poison.

    Still Meat and Fat would be less of a poison than lectins from grains and legumes or even vegetables.

  • Martin Levac

    10/21/2010 3:34:39 PM |

    Dr. Davis, I'm confused. It's all your fault. If I just stick to low carb, it's all fine. But as soon as you start blaming butter, this low carb idea stops making any sense. Why would a low carb diet return me to good health when this very same low carb diet is blamed for disease?

    Clean slate. Start over. Fact, a  low carb diet returns me, and pretty much everybody else, to good health. Fact, a low carb diet contains lots of fat especially saturated animal fat. Fact, butter is one such fat and now we find that it contains lots of AGEs. Fact, in spite of this butter returns me to good health because it's part of a low carb diet. Logical conclusion, whatever I find in butter must be why I am now in good health.

    So why are you saying that butter is now bad for me?

  • Diana

    10/21/2010 4:41:17 PM |

    WoW great blog good to know since i love butter... but i totaly dont understand the whole Can anyone explain the glucose-lipid interaction thing.... thanks!

  • zach

    10/21/2010 6:13:00 PM |

    Butter is better for normal humans under normal circumstances than any plant food in existence. Butter: Food of the gods.

  • Eric

    10/21/2010 8:13:50 PM |

    I would also wonder if it's due to pasteurization.

  • Jack

    10/21/2010 8:38:18 PM |

    well dr davis, clearly you are ruffling the feathers of your readers with this one. nothing wrong with that in particular, except for when, as in this case, the information presented ruffles feathers because we all know it's just not possible. people have been eating (and studying the effects of) butter for a reaaallly long time. pretty much all whole food health gurus (meaning the awesome new wave of nutrionist/doctor bloggers that has sprung up this past decade) agree that full fat butter is very healthy to consume even in fairly substantial amounts. in fact, they ARE consuming it, and living very well while doing so. grass fed butter in particular, as you are well aware, has been tested and studied extensively, and the fat soluable vitamins and nutrients are so rich its astounding.

    just because something is found to have high AGEs before consumption, doesn't mean that particular item is causing the problems that you blame butter for here. be careful not to attack one of the most hallowed health foods unless you have have absolutely rock solid information that people can stand on.

    i only say this because i know you run a well articulated blog here and your name gets around on many other similar minded blog sites. i have read many of your articles, but reading articles like this make me (and many of your other 'faithfuls') cringe, because we really cannot agree with this.

  • Dr. William Davis

    10/21/2010 10:37:41 PM |

    Unfortunately, the data do not specify how or what was done to the butter, if anything. I suspect it was just off-the-shelf butter.

  • Dr. William Davis

    10/21/2010 10:44:27 PM |

    There seems to be a lot of misunderstandings here about what Vlassara et al's data are showing. This one perspective reported here does not do justice to this fascinating topic, which is clearly worth pursuing further.

    It's not my role to indulge anyone's low-carb fantasies. I am trying to interpret observations and data to employ in as effective a diet approach as possible.

    The data stand: Butter has some problems, despite fitting into most people's conception of low-carb.

  • Anonymous

    10/21/2010 11:31:39 PM |

    This can be interesting news, apparently not all paleo people had a paleodiet

  • Joel

    10/22/2010 12:56:48 AM |

    Somebody correct me if I'm wrong, but every study on AGEs I've managed to dig up involves feeding humans or rats a lab "preparation" of AGEs, rather than actual real food.

    Some of the earliest arguments against a high protein diet came from  experiments with feedings of pure casein or liquid protein powders. When these experiments are repeated with whole food, the results are markedly different.

    "It's not my role to indulge anyone's low-carb fantasies."

    You're shunning of butter seems to follow this chain of association:

    1) Certain AGEs in the body are  bad.
    2) Butter contains significant AGEs (type of butter? type of AGEs?).
    3) Feeding pure AGE solutions to humans increases AGEs in the body.
    4) Ergo, eating butter increases AGEs in the body.

    However, certain AGEs such as pyrraline (commonly found in milk products) have been shown NOT to be metabolized in the body:


    Are we getting the full picture here? Until a study shows that feeding butter significantly increases AGEs in the body, I think we're in the land of speculation.

  • Martin Levac

    10/22/2010 2:09:15 AM |

    Dr. Davis, the kind of data you presented in your "case against butter" is merely the sort that explains how it works and what it's made of, not the sort that tells us whether butter is good or bad. We can figure out if something's good or bad without knowing how it works, we just feed it to somebody and wait for a result. We can also learn how it works without knowing if it's good or bad. We just feed it to somebody and draw some blood.

    The data you rely on here is the latter kind. It doesn't tell us whether butter is good or bad, it merely tells us how butter works and what it's made of. Now you believe that some of what it's made of, and some ways it works, is bad for us and you conclude that because of this butter is also bad for us. But in order to fully believe this you must also ignore the data that says that butter is good for us.

    Dr. Davis, you of all people should know health is not merely a measure of what's in the blood, let alone the measure of a single blood parameter.

    What we should conclude instead is that our understanding of the data regarding butter has problems.

  • Anonymous

    10/22/2010 3:20:12 AM |

    diglycerides (sugars composed of two other sugars, sucrose, for example)

    Eades really wrote that??? LOL. He should go back and study some Biochem 101 to find out the difference between diglycerides and disaccharides.

  • escee

    10/22/2010 3:30:15 AM |

    I might have seen this article referenced at this site previously, but I think it is worth revisiting in view of the topic.

    Food Choices and Coronary Heart Disease: A Population Based Cohort Study of Rural Swedish Men with 12 Years of Follow-up

    Abstract: Coronary heart disease is associated with diet. Nutritional recommendations are frequently provided, but few long term studies on the effect of food choices on heart disease are available. We followed coronary heart disease morbidity and mortality in a cohort of rural men (N = 1,752) participating in a prospective observational study. Dietary choices were assessed at baseline with a 15-item food questionnaire. 138 men were hospitalized or deceased owing to coronary heart disease during the 12 year follow-up. Daily intake of fruit and vegetables was associated with a lower risk of coronary heart disease when combined with a high dairy fat consumption (odds ratio 0.39, 95% CI 0.21-0.73), but not when combined with a low dairy fat consumption (odds ratio 1.70, 95% CI 0.97-2.98). Choosing wholemeal bread or eating fish at least twice a week showed no association with the outcome.
    Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2009, 6, 2626-2638;

  • greensmu

    10/22/2010 2:11:29 PM |

    @Martin levac

    It doesn't tell us what butter is made of because we don't know if it was pasteurized or heated/cooked. My guess would be heated since that's what the study in question is looking at, heated foods. It's also known that butter has a very low smoking point.

  • Anonymous

    10/22/2010 3:46:00 PM |

    This is very interseting about butter. I have avoided butter because it is a non paleo food. It always seems that there are problems with these "new foods"

    Some things that I wonder though, are has this AGE content be measured accurately? Are there other studies that confirm this high level of AGEs in butter? Could butter from  pasteurized milk be higher in AGEs? Also could the level of freshness and the time it was frozen have some impact? These are some of the questions to consider.

    So far as the contention by some here that these chemicals don't pass into your system through your digestive system. The literature that I have seen clearly shows that they do pass through into your system.

  • Chuck

    10/22/2010 6:00:48 PM |

    questions about butter.  first as many have asked, was the butter heated for patuerization? my guess is yes.  second, what were the cows feed?  standard grain feed would probably lead to ore endogenous AGE in cows compared to a diet of grass.  as for now, i am sticking with my grass fed, non pasteurized butter.

  • Anonymous

    10/24/2010 7:21:18 AM |

    Nothing wrong with saying "Whoops.  My bad.  Thanks for correcting me with your comments guys and gals".

  • Anonymous

    10/24/2010 6:10:30 PM |

    Sorry Doc,

    This has been one of your least helpful, and nearly destructive blogs, I've ever seen. If you truly believe butter is not good, why not research how it could be 'better', such as clarifying it into ghee, or buying only grass-fed butter.

    So then what do YOU suggest instead as the best possible source of dietary fat???

    You must realize that the majority of people buy that horrible slow-poison known as margarine, because it has been billed as 'healthier', and your blog will only strengthen that perception.

    It seems like occasionally you go on vacation, and let the TYP committee post an article for you. This one stunk.

    The 6-year old study you quoted sounds like it was paid for by the vegetable oil industry.
    Anything we swallow gets nearly destroyed by our stomach acids, and who says that carboxymethyllysine (prior to digestion) is a proper marker for eventual AGE cell damage? Wouldn't Uric Acid have an even greater role? OR Hydrogen Peroxide induced in the blood or tissues? Doesn't Glucose, by far, cause the greatest destruction? Remind me what the G in AGE stands for?

    Weakly researched or justified blogs like this one make us lose faith in you as an expert.

  • Dr. William Davis

    10/25/2010 2:45:23 AM |

    No apologies from me.

    Just because you wish it weren't true, or that the data should be better sorted out, doesn't make it so.

    Until we obtain more clarification, butter remains on my list of "watch out."

    Wheat is unquestionably bad. Some foods, like spinach and kale, are unquestionably good. Other foods, like butter and other dairy products, have mixed effects.

    I'm talking butter here. I'm not insulting your aunt.

  • Anonymous

    10/25/2010 7:54:06 AM |

    I'm not that much of a fan of butter since I've got an autoimmune disorder which seems to get slightly worse with dairy, but, wouldn't ghee/clarified butter remove all/most of the AGEs throught seperation and physical removal of the sugars and proteins, leaving only the pure fat?
    Even AGEs from super-heated pasturized butter would be removed...
    Unless the fat itself gets glycated
    (this is the first time I've heard of this but it seems plausible, and ghee won't get rid of oxidized unsaturated fats from pasturized butter)

    Here's something else I don't understand: what makes butter so special in regard to external A.G.E.s as opposed to other low-carb, high-fat foods that it would warrant special attention?
    If butter can be filled with A.G.E.s, wouldn't a bunch of other low-carb foods considered healthy now become suspect?
    Or is the heating process itself that makes the pasteurized butter they likely tested on the culprit?
    (In the same way canola and soybean oils are hot-pressed to reduce toxins and therefore are highly oxidized)

  • Stephen

    10/25/2010 7:51:35 PM |

    I thought that the butter used in that study was whipped butter. If so, the measured AGE content might be drastically different from normal butter.

  • travis t

    10/26/2010 7:37:57 PM |

    Am I missing something, I thought AGEs were a combination of sugars and proteins. The label of my butter says zero carbs and zero protein. So what is glycated ?

  • Jack

    10/27/2010 4:59:46 PM |

    "No apologies from me."

    “It's not my role to indulge anyone's low-carb fantasies.”

    “I'm not insulting your aunt.”

    interesting attitude. i'm not real certain that an apology is in order specifically for your article, but perhaps a more in depth look at the 'data' is. the type of people who come here have a veracious appetite to find the real truth, and you are ignoring a host of excellent replies that directly negate the 'data' and 'facts' that you are standing on.

    i am not seeing "i love justifying my high fat foods because i am hopelessly addicted to butter" kind of replies here. i am seeing well researched, well articulated points about why the 'data' you presented here (and in your other previous article where you do state as a fact that "butter makes you fat") are not holding up well. And therefore, the quotes from you that I point out above do actually seem to be a bit insulting to your readers. your reply is quite pompous as well.

    please keep in mind that we (meaning the collective group of caring folk who frequent your blog) are only making noise on this one for everyone’s good. you may not want to be so hasty in shunning good responses that question your findings, but, uh, it's your call doc, and your reputation.

    as always, i appreciate the work you do. even with my disagreement about an article like this, i believe you do a great service to the health community and i sincerely thank you for it.

  • Sebastien

    10/28/2010 9:34:50 AM |

    It's funny you mentioned that spinach and kale are unquestionably good. I can easily find plenty of bad in those two vegetables. High levels of oxalates is one. Kale is also highly goitrogenic. Those two vegetables are also some the most pesticide laden. On top of the pesticides, spinach is often irradiated.

    I'll stick with occasional greens and frequent butter consumption.

  • Olga

    10/28/2010 5:32:11 PM |

    Hi Dr. Davis:

    Please take a look at the daily lipid's post from today, on AGE's.  Here is the link:

  • blogblog

    10/31/2010 12:59:32 AM |

    To paraphrase Henry Ford "nutrition is bunk". No statistically valid long term dietary clinical trial has ever been performed on humans. So we have no statistically valid evidence-based science on what constitutes a healthy diet. In particular the recommendations for eating fruit and vegetables is totally irrational. All vegetables are full of toxins and contain large quantities of known carcinogens. In fact the EPA would be required by law to ban the consumption and sale all vegetables if they were man made.

    Nutrition 'science' consists entirely of extremely dubious experiments on rats, meaningless population studies and irrelevant test tube experiments.

  • Anonymous

    11/3/2010 9:23:11 PM |


    What you say is ridicolous.
    Consumption of vegetables has always been found to have nothing but extremely positive effects and not even one negative effect, except for people with Chrons.

    Not even one evidence of cangerous or toxic effect.

  • Ed

    11/16/2010 5:23:50 AM |

    The source of the butter data is this paper: "Advanced Glycoxidation End Products in Commonly Consumed Foods" (2004, Journal of the American Dietetic Association, via Google Scholar cache).

    Here are some numbers from Table 1:

    Milk, cow, whole .... 0.05 kU/mL
    Butter .............. 265 kU/g

    The table caption refers to "foods prepared by standard cooking methods" (these include frying). Expecting high AGEs in uncooked butter -- over 5000 times the level in milk! -- would make little sense. There's every reason to think that this butter had been exposed to high temperatures.

  • Jack

    11/17/2010 6:27:41 PM |

    @anonymous (Nov 3 comment)
    Actually, what you say is ridiculous too. I'd be careful not to make blanket statements like that. Built-in defense mechanisms are not reserved for Venus Fly-traps only. Vegetables, like many other plants, have them too.


  • Joe

    12/7/2010 1:22:29 PM |

    What do you think about this from Dr Mercola?

    Good-old-fashioned butter, when made from grass-fed cows, is a rich in a substance called conjugated linoleic acid (CLA). CLA is not only known to help fight cancer and diabetes, it may even help you to lose weight, which cannot be said for its trans-fat substitutes.


  • Anonymous

    12/7/2010 6:32:42 PM |

    According to the chart, a frankfurter or a serving of roast beef is quite a bit worse than a serving of butter.

  • jpatti

    6/18/2011 9:42:06 PM |

    Butter is not good because it's low carb.  Butter is good because it's butter.  

    Before I ever heard of low-carb, or vitamins or minerals or any of that, when ALL I knew about nutrition was that sugar was bad and veggies good cause mom said so, butter was good.  Butter made me WANT to eat an artichoke.  And... it still works today!

    If there were no other benefit to butter than it made vegetables palatable, butter would be an unqualified good.  I would not eat 1/10th the veggies I do if not for butter.  

    Since I am stubbornly of the opinion that eating at least half the diet (by volume) as nonstarchy vegetables is the main thing anyone can do for health, butter is an unqualified good in my world.  

    If it makes people voluntarily eat their veggies, it's good.  


    While just the veggie intake with butter in the diet is a HUGE good; butter is better than just the vegetables that go with it.  

    Butter is the number one source of butyric acid, a fatty acid that is a major constituent of the GI tract and often deficient in folks with GI disturbances like celiac and Chron's and systemic Candida.  IMO, the number one thing anyone with GI issues can do is eat lots of butter.  If you want to heal even faster, don't just eat it, but take it in both ends, so to speak.  

    Butyric acid also counteracts inflammation, the main underlying issue with heart disease as I understand, and the apparent underlying issue with the epidemic of autoimmune disorders we're seeing.

    My grandmother's generation ate GOBS of bread, wheat was a mainstay of their diet.  But they didn't have all the gluten-intolerance this generation has.  IMO, the reason is cause they slathered butter on their bread.  

    Anyways, she lived to 102, so must've done SOMeTHING right.  And she never believed the hype about margarine, always overate butter like crazy.

    Butyric acid has other interesting effects... it lowers total cholesterol 25%, serum triglycerides 50%, fasting insulin 25%, and increases insulin sensitivity 300% - there's a bunch of pubmed references listed here: http://wholehealthsource.blogspot.com/2009/12/butyric-acid-ancient-controller-of.html

    Note that "metabolic syndrome," the precursor to T2 diabetes, is pretty much insulin resistance and high triglycerides.  When metabolic syndrome is the question, apparently, butter is the answer.


    Butter is particularly good from pasture-raised animals, which maximizes the vitamins A, D3 and K2 in it.  

    Very few of us get enough vitamin A.  Many of us, diabetics being an example I'm terrifically familair with, do not convert beta-carotene to vitamin A well at all.  In general, omnivores and carnivores don't do this efficiently, even the healthy ones with good genes.  

    Herbivores do it wonderfully.  All the gorgeous colors of the pasture convert into lots of real vitamin A for us to eat.  You can take nasty cod liver oil, or you can just melt yummy butter on your veggies.

    I do not spend 16 hours in the sun in summer.  But I rent a small house on a farm and am surrounded by cattle, and they do.  They walk about, eating pasture, chewing cud and the calves frolicking across the fields, in the sunshine all day, where they also are making loads of vitamin D3 - the real stuff, not the crappy D2 they "fortify" factory farmed milk with.

    Butter from cows eating rapidly growing grass is also the best known source of K2 other than natto.  Just like Vitamin A, we are not good at making K2, but cows are.


    IMO, butter is a near-miraculous food, one of the true health foods.  

    I buy from a farm that makes butter from cream from cows on pasture, with no ingredients except cream.  When the beta-carotene content is highest, it turns darker, which is also when the vitamin A, D3 and K2 is highest.  When it gets like that, I buy 40 lbs and stick it in my freezer for consumption over the next year.  When I run out, I just buy it weekly again until it gets dark again.

    I eat between 1/2 - 1 lb butter every week. It's yummy.  As noted, it's wonderful on vegetables.  But it's also nice just melted over some over-easy eggs, or a pat melted on a burger or steak.  

    Also, pasture-raised butter tastes better.  The stuff I buy comes in tubs, not sticks, but hubby being a truck driver finds sticks more convenient.  He buttered a dish with his butter recently before he served it to me and... well, I added the real butter.  His butter just wasn't... buttery enough.  

    Butter is... just awesome stuff.  And for those who REALLY disagree, my advice is to heed Julia Child who said, "If you're afraid of butter, use cream."

  • Florent Berthet

    2/7/2012 6:04:57 PM |

    Like Olga, I''d be very interested to hear your opinion on this daily lipid''s post:

    Also, what about ghee?

  • Alex Tahti

    11/5/2012 7:21:42 PM |

    Apparently the AGEs in the study cited by Dr. Davis were measured using anti-body immunoassay which is an indirect method that is susceptible to distortions.   A mass spectrometer, a direct measurement, was used to analysis AGE in butter in this study http://biomedgerontology.oxfordjournals.org/content/65A/9/963.full and found: "The CML concentrations of various foods vary widely from about 0.35–0.37 mg CML/kg food for pasteurized skimmed milk and butter to about 11 mg CML/kg food for fried minced beef and 37 mg CML/kg food for white bread crust".

    So wheat in the form of white bread crust is a factor of 100 more than butter in CML AGE.