The Untold Story of BUTTER

by Sarah healthy fatsComments: 54


Fifty years ago, a sea change began to occur in the perception of nutrition in America, and hence, the entire Western World. It started shortly after World War II when butter and other saturated fats became public enemy #1 through the apparent link between their consumption and heart disease.

Cholesterol rich foods such as egg yolks and liver joined the list of vilified foods during the 1970’s as the public was told by doctors, nutritionists, and the limited media outlets at the time (network TV and radio) that these foods were clearly linked to the epidemic of heart disease. The discovery that artery clogging plaques – the main cause of heart attacks – were found to primarily contain cholesterol sealed the deal. Nevermind that the oxidized cholesterol found in processed foods (particularly skim milk) was the real culprit in the heart disease war.

Common sense seemed to dictate that avoiding all cholesterol rich foods such as butter, liver, and egg yolks would somehow reduce one’s chance of a heart attack. Foods rich in saturated fat and cholesterol, oxidized or not, became inextricably linked to bad health, clogged arteries, and heart attacks in the psyche of most Westerners.

The Big Butter Mistake

About the same time the war against eggs heated up, a young scientist named Mary Enig discovered during her research that a serious mistake had occurred with regard to the studies linking saturated fat to heart disease. She discovered that the analysis had incorrectly grouped saturated fat along with trans fat (partially hydrogenated fats). How had this happened? The mistake evidently occurred because factory synthesized trans fats are very similar in chemical structure to saturated fats. So similar in fact, that researchers had grouped them together for analytical purposes.

Problem is, the seemingly insignificant, minor chemical difference between saturated fat and factory fat (trans fats) made all the difference in the world to the conclusion of the research. Dr. Enig found that when saturated fats and trans fats are separated into different groups, saturated fats were found to have NO LINK to heart disease while trans fats were found to have a very strong link!

Mortified, Dr. Enig tried her best to rectify this mistake by notifying her superiors and others in the industry, but found that the freight train against saturated fat had already left the station. Dr. Enig eventually paid for her forthrightness with her career. Blackballed by the edible oil industry who aggressively opposed her findings as a threat to their profits and bottom line, she found herself unable to get grants, funding, or even a job within the industry to continue her work on the effect of fats on the human body.

Butter Demonized to Pave Way for Edible Oil Industry

The highly successful campaign to demonize butter as a food loaded with saturated fat and therefore, a contributor to the heart disease epidemic, paved the way for the edible oil industry to create an entirely new line of products: margarine and other fake butter spreads. “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter” and products like it began to line the supermarket shelves and Americans scooped them up in the name of better health. Butter substitutes are very cheap to produce – much cheaper than real butter. Replacing butter with margarine in the American diet proved to be a very smart marketing move for the edible oil industry and they rode this wave of profits for many years all the while falsely touting the certain improvements in public health that would result.

Even with the abandonment of butter in the modern diet, Americans continued to get fatter and fatter and the epidemic of heart disease showed no signs of abating. Ironically, the very margarines the public so willingly purchased instead of butter were loaded with trans fats, the very fats that ARE strongly linked with heart disease. How the edible oil industry managed to successfully demonize butter and all saturated fats all the while slowly and purposefully integrating trans fats into every nook and cranny of the entire processed foods industry is certainly an amazing marketing feat! Peppridge Farms changed its wonderful line of cookies from using coconut oil to trans fats. McDonald’s changed the oil it used for making french fries from beef tallow to trans fats. It seemed the entire world had bought into the story that all saturated fats are bad for you.

Well, not everyone. Dr. Enig had quietly continued her pioneering work on fats and was now on the board of the Weston A. Price Foundation (WAPF) which was founded in 1999. Even after the dangers of trans fats to health finally started to be exposed in the late 1990’s through the work of the WAPF and others (reaching a crescendo with the addition of trans fats to product labels just a few years ago), the edible oil industry refused to stop the campaign against butter. A new line of products was introduced which have gradually, though not completely, replaced trans fat laden margarines. These products such as “Smart Balance” boast a so called “heart healthy” blend of vegetable oils which, though not hydrogenated, are still unsafe to consume. The new process used to produce these vegetable oil spreads is called “interesterification” which is arguably even more dangerous to health than trans fats. Read about this deadly form of processing at this link.

In 1999, Sally Fallon, President of the Weston A. Price Foundation and friend of Dr. Enig, produced a series of lectures on “Why Butter is Better” and the “Oiling of America” to start getting the word out about the duping of an entire generation against butter and saturated fats. The fact that the media is no longer monopoly controlled and the rise of the Internet have allowed the public to actively participate in the spreading of the real truths about fats and health. Companies are beginning to switch to palm oil from partially hydrogenated oils, in the production of their cookies and crackers. Butter is again a growth industry and even eggs, long demonized for their abundance of saturated fat and cholesterol, have finally received acknowledgement as a perfectly healthy food, one that should be consumed often if not daily.

If you are still unconvinced about the necessity of full fat butter in your diet to achieve your best health, I would recommend that you contact the Weston A. Price Foundation to get your copy of Ms. Fallon’s lectures on the subject.

This unbelievable saga would make a great movie, don’t you agree?

Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

Comments (54)

  • Rex

    Transfats isn’t illegal in the UK, however a few years ago, large supermarkets agreed to cut down and opt out of selling it in food.

    Only the other week, I found a “new product” of canned whipped cream in the supermarket, Tesco…

    Tesco is the worst supermarket in the UK.
    (no not just cause of this)
    Don’t buy from them. Let them fall. We have plenty of other better supermarkets.

    May 16th, 2016 3:01 am Reply
  • Nadia

    Wow! Thank you! I continuously wanted to write on my blog something like that.

    Can I implement a portion of your post to my website?

    May 7th, 2016 4:32 am Reply
    • Sarah

      Of course! Short excerpts with a link back to this original article for proper creditation is fine.

      May 7th, 2016 8:00 am Reply
  • Marie Brewer

    Just recently I have noticed a change in butter…it has a sticky texture, no longer has that nice creamy butter flavor and the package now says “cream(milk) salt. The calorie content is lower than it used to be, and it contains no calcium. Have they been secretly changing the butter. A few years ago 2tsp. of butter was 100 calories, on my butter it says, 70 calories. I smell a Butter Rat.

    January 13th, 2014 2:32 pm Reply
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  • James

    I grew up in Normandie, France. The “soul” of this place is its high quality raw nilk butter and numerous cheeses, including the famous Camembert. All based on raw milk from local cows that are grass fed all year long. I know about these cows, I was living near a field full of them and used to tease them. I can really say they ate grass and clovers and occasional bugs. I have been eating butter all my life, even when I left my childhood place and settled abroad. I never bought into this nonsense about the “evil of butter”, it fed me well my entire childhood and I couldn’t see any reason why I should stop eating it. The real diet issue for me, which I did not know then, was wheat, grains in general and refined sugars. Coming from a place where bread is the very staple of people (the French baguettes! croissants au beurre, etc), it was a complete turn from my childhood habits. But after reading tons of literature, I had to eliminate these thigsn from my diet. And what an effect! My health has improved in a spectacular way. And this has nothing to do with butter :)

    February 28th, 2013 5:32 am Reply
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  • Adam

    Hi Sarah I’m from England I am 46 years old and have been told I have slightly high Cholesterol 6.1 weigh 10.4 st enjoy full cream milk on breakfast eat anchor butter never drunk or smoked so how come the reading? been told to eat all the stuff that you advise not to eat! now very confused! but it makes sense my biggest vise has always been biscuits and chocolate

    September 17th, 2012 4:36 pm Reply
  • amber

    Where to buy real butter?

    September 5th, 2012 6:59 pm Reply
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  • Estee

    Been reading everyones comments. Wanted to add my own, if no one minds. The body was created to eat all natural foods, nothing synthetic (aka fake). The body cannot process fake. To eat margarine, is no different than melting tupperware in the microwave. Flies won’t even go to it. Processed foods are no better. Might as well eat the box they came in. Microwaves destroy vitamins and enzymes, etc. Making meals from scratch isn’t hard or time consuming, as some people would like to believe. They are tastier and more nutritious.(unlike processed that has ‘flavor’ added in the form of chemicals that the body wasn’t designed to take in either.) If we were designed to eat ‘fake’ foods, why was so many ‘food’ plants created? For looks? No, for our bodies to live on. I am a average women, housewife, (who does alot of reading) who has suffered from eating processed food. I have no tolerance to MSG, which is in ALL processed foods. This developed over time. I get a tremendous migraine, worse than normal migraines (normal?), and last from 1 to 2 days. (KFC is MSG factory, everything they have is loaded with it) Why MSG? To enhance the chemically flavored processed food, to get people to eat more of the ‘fake’ stuff and in the process stuffs the manufactors pockets.

    July 31st, 2012 2:48 pm Reply
  • Sunita Banerji (Hair Skin Doctor from Mumbai)

    For the information of your readers, I would like to bring to their attention clarified butter or ‘ghee’ as we call it here in India. Ghee is made by carefully simmering unsalted butter to eliminate the moisture, a process that lightly browns the natural oils giving it an almost nutlike flavor, then heat pasteurizing the purified and strained oil in a sealed can. This Ghee which is made in most Indian households is ideal for sautéing, braising, pan-frying and deep-frying whenever you want a rich butter-infused flavor. It is packed with flavor, and often 1 tablespoon of ghee will work just as well as four tablespoons of any other cooking oil. It is the healthy, all-natural, salt-free, lactose-free alternative to hydrogenated oils that clog arteries.

    As a nutritionist and a skin and anti aging doctor from Mumbai, I always advise pure ghee made from cow’s milk as a virtual elixir! it improves health, helps quick oxidation of negative elements in the body & promotes great looking skin and good health. Try looking for ‘Ghee’ it in your local high-end specialty / ethnic stores especially the Indian ones.

    March 26th, 2012 5:52 am Reply
  • Merina Alchemy

    I love that you are sharing real health information about food, when there is so much nonsense and mis-information on the web. I would like to share with you, that the whole high Cholesterol thing from Big Pharma is utterly a SCAM. The statistics were altered by 100%, as actually no one has high Cholesterol. Just the numbers were altered, as to what “high” Cholesterol is. Furthermore, heart disease is caused not by “high Cholesterol,” but by a Homocysteine buildup in the blood from a lack of B Vitamins. Cholesterol is actually GOOD and neccessary for a calm nervous system, and the ability to make the biochemistry of happiness. Thanks, and Keep up the good work!

    March 5th, 2012 7:04 pm Reply
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  • Jean

    Hi Sarah,

    Me and my wife only use Lurpak. Is that any good?

    Thanks for the informative article and your good intentions of bettering the health of the people by education (the nature of which is NOT determined by profits).

    Jean Knox

    November 17th, 2011 10:18 am Reply
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  • omg

    Those food manufacturing companies are committing genocide!!!

    July 27th, 2011 1:29 pm Reply
  • Jennifer

    Hi there, I love fats. If we could just wrap our head around how could it is and get on with life, like every other country does about butter, we would be one heck of a stronger healthier country.

    June 10th, 2011 11:31 am Reply
  • Kirameku

    Super interesting article ! Thank you so much for sharing ! 😀
    In any cases, butter and olive oil make food taste so much better, why even change ?

    April 12th, 2011 6:19 pm Reply
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  • Gary

    We love the Amish Roll Butter from Alcam Creamery. They do not pump the butter through machines, but instead hand process it, so the fat molecules are larger, which makes for an amazing butter. You can buy it online at

    February 25th, 2011 11:54 am Reply
  • Jon

    Correction, the smokepoint of virgin coconut oil is 350 F; and refined 450 F so it could be safe for deep frying and the oven cooking. Ghee (indian clarified butter) according to wiki says a smoke point of 485 F (it could be a mistake as other sources say just higher than butter). I do not know if the ghee has a taste or not. I just remember seeing buckets of the stuff packed on shelves at my the local indian shop so it struck me.

    December 24th, 2010 5:15 am Reply
    • D.

      @Jon: Do not use Wikipedia for your source of information. Go straight to the WAPF web site or the web site for any information. Wikipedia is a joke. Anyone can change things and it has been found (especially if you’re looking for nutrition/health information) they have people who “sit” on those subjects and change information the minute it’s posted. Not my idea of a reliable source.

      August 2nd, 2011 1:00 pm Reply
  • Jon

    This is more out of interest Sarah. I purchased some expellar coconut oil and I am experiment with it; superb price! I am doing a oil rethink. On further research you will decover the smoke point (point when it begins to break down) of coconut oil IS at 350 to 400 degrees F (similar to butter and lard) ; and not that high in relation to other oils. ( So I am thinking its good as long as you do not go above those temps (?). For high temp cooking it seems to make sense to use oils like ie ghee ( with a smokepoint of 485 F, not behind the avocardo oil with the highest at 520F. Try some deep fried chips with ghee for a non animal oil and see how they turn out. Regards

    December 24th, 2010 4:23 am Reply
  • Jon

    Hi Sarah. Thanks for your response. I for got to mention that I live in the UK, so I do not know we use the same terminology as you lot. I will do a search on on ‘expeller’ coconut oil. So far from what I understand about the refined oil is that it is heat treated and bleached (to reduce taste) . Bleached is a bit of a scary word. I’ll try find a WAPS forum for the UK and see if the members are using a specific brand … to get the best value for money. Regards

    December 15th, 2010 11:38 pm Reply
    • Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

      Hi Jon, I do know that my coconut oil is expeller pressed but definitely NOT bleached.

      December 16th, 2010 9:06 am Reply
    • John

      I use biona raw coconut oil in the uk, perhaps you can try that.

      May 30th, 2012 11:05 am Reply
  • Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

    Hi Jon, expeller pressed coconut oil (refined) does not have a coconut flavor. This is what I used for most cooking and baking. Refined coconut oil is heated but is not damaged like more fragile oils. I keep a 5 gallon bucket of it in my garage and it keeps perfectly even through a hot, humid FL summer. It is the very best high heat oil.

    December 14th, 2010 10:13 pm Reply
    • Michelle

      Yes, coconut oil is great for higher-heat cooking Another oil to try is cold-pressed Grapeseed oil. Ghee, lard and tallow are also good choices for high-heat cooking (and tasty too).

      July 31st, 2012 7:12 pm Reply
  • Jon

    Hallelujah ! Well said Sarah. I changed all my dairy to raw a few weeks back; and I am educating myself futher.

    I am still in various minds as to what to use as a general cooking fat. I use butter where I can. Sometime I use virgin coconut oil (ie for stir fry) – but it does have an coconut flavour which may interfears with taste (as with butter). I am considering palm oil, or refined coconut oil. Matt Stone on 180 degree health advocated refined coconut oil … as its cheaper and lacks odour; and should not be damaged due to the resilience of the saturated fat (who knows?). Have you any thoughts on this Sarah?

    December 14th, 2010 9:09 pm Reply
  • Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

    Amen Sista!

    December 3rd, 2010 11:20 pm Reply
  • Cindy

    I have never understood why people would pick margarine, a product full of chemicals over butter. Plus butter tastes so much better!

    December 3rd, 2010 9:50 pm Reply
  • Sarah, the Healthy Home Economist

    Hi Dale, raw butter is best, but if you aren't able to find this, get the best quality butter you can even if it is pasteurized. Raw butter continues to get stronger in flavor over time, so freeze what you will not use up in a few weeks. You can leave on the counter in a butter bell but know that the longer it is out, the stronger the flavor.

    August 18th, 2010 9:59 pm Reply
    • Michelle

      As a child my father would bring home raw butter from a family friend who had a cow-share program with local residents. We ALWAYS kept the butter in the freezer, and only removed it when we used it. I live in Washington state now, and even though we can buy raw milk and aged raw cheese off the shelf in a store, we do not have access to raw butter. It may be difficult to find, but research if your state allows cow share programs. You might be able to find a farm that will make the butter, or you can learn to make it yourself.

      July 31st, 2012 7:07 pm Reply
  • Dale

    Hi Sarah,

    I'm assuming you recommend butter made from raw milk since butter from the grocery store is presumably made from pasteurized milk? That being the case, what kind of shelf life can I expect from it A) In the fridge, and B) on the counter top?

    As a kid, I remember butter going "rancid." I'd hate to have to throw out any.


    August 18th, 2010 1:49 pm Reply
  • Sarah, the Healthy Home Economist

    Audrey, I would be honored and delighted if you linked to this post. I wish you the best with your series on moving toward real food.

    April 9th, 2010 12:16 pm Reply
  • Audrey

    Hi Sarah! I’m starting a series in the next couple weeks on making baby steps toward real food. My first post is going to be on butter. Mind if I link to this post?

    April 9th, 2010 3:50 am Reply
    • Heather

      Hi Audrey! I am a wife and mother of 2 who can see the benefits of eating a more natural and healthy diet and who wouldLOVE to learn how to make baby steps tword real food! I find it so overwhelming! How can I find out more about this series? Thanks!

      May 10th, 2012 5:17 pm Reply
  • Sarah, the Healthy Home Economist

    The good news is that all you have to do is start eating traditionally and your body will heal itself naturally. Your body knows how to be healthy .. you just have to feed it the right fuel and the right fuel does not include anything made or processed in a factory.

    February 7th, 2010 5:23 pm Reply
    • Sherry Troutman

      I beg to differ that butter is better for you. Nutritionalists are still saying it isn’t.

      Just because butter has saturated fat in it-I found a spread that the claims they make are the real truth–and it is way better than butter! Called Smart Balance-with less saturated fat than butter per serving and added vitamin D and OMEGA 3 Fatty acids that help reduce strokes, heart attacks and protect the heart’s rhythm-this is way better than butter–

      So all you people who are in the butter is better camp! Butter’s got nothin on smart balance

      because butter has no omega 3’s more saturated fat and is FAR worse for you!

      When I told my nutritionalist I only butter the smart balance way–she was impressed I switched before I even signed up for a nutritionalist!

      So people in the butter camp–all I have left to say to you is GO BIG, or go home!

      April 29th, 2011 2:23 pm Reply
      • D.

        @Sherry Troutman: You are woefully misinformed. Smart Balance is terrible for humans (I would think you would have been able to “know” this if you are so well informed, not to mention your “nutritionist” friend should certainly know better). Butter is always better than any “substitute”. Always.

        But you, and people like you, seem to think you have all the answers because it’s a fake food product, which certainly must be better than something nature herself has given to us for centuries. Go ahead and eat your Smart Balance. I don’t think it’s a very smart thing to do and others here likely don’t stand with you on that, either.

        I’ll take my butter any day of the week. Yes, Sherry, go big or go home should read go REAL or go home.

        August 2nd, 2011 12:55 pm Reply
      • Michelle

        @SherryTroutman Do you know that the added Vitamin D and Omega-3 are both synthetic? I am a microbiologist and worked in the Dairy Manufacturing industry for many years. The added Vitamin A and D in milk are definitely synthetic, as well as your favorite Smart Balance. Butter on the other hand is one of the best sources of natural VitaminA and D, as well as fatty acids, including butyric acid, which is an anti-carcinogen; lauric acid, and of course the essentials omega-3 and omega-6. And if you buy butter that is made from the milk of grass-fed, humanely and organically raised cows, then you will have more omega-3’s and -6’s than a serving of salmon! And it’s all natural … not synthesized (or chemically manipulated) in a lab.

        July 31st, 2012 7:01 pm Reply
      • Kim Froman

        Look at your label. Look at butter’s label. Which can you pronounce? Which is sold in plastic?

        December 22nd, 2012 7:36 am Reply
      • Graham

        Can anyone else tell that Sherry is clearly a smart balance shill?

        February 5th, 2013 2:06 pm Reply
      • Shilly Foolman

        Just go home. You are either a marketing liar or arrogant fool.

        January 26th, 2014 11:14 am Reply
  • Diane

    So, what does it take to clear out all the cholesterol and trans fats from my arteries that I ate when I (and my mother) didn't know better?

    February 7th, 2010 6:59 am Reply
    • Merina Alchemy

      Your arteries are clogged not by “high Cholesterol,” but by a Homocysteine buildup in the blood from a lack of B Vitamins. Cholesterol is actually GOOD and neccessary for a calm nervous system, and the ability to make the biochemistry of happiness.
      The whole Cholesterol thing is a lie created by Big Pharma to make a killing, killing people.
      Shiitake Mushrooms are high in B Vitamins and also remove toxins from all cells in the body, including Heavy Metals lodged in Brain Receptor sites!

      March 5th, 2012 7:13 pm Reply
  • Anonymous

    So I want to let you all know about coconut water, I just started on a project for Vita Coco and they gave me this discount to share. Go to Facebook and become a fan at and share the $2 off coupon code from ( Code:2BUCKVIT). Enjoy!

    February 5th, 2010 2:40 am Reply
  • Sarah, the Healthy Home Economist

    I just love the "Butter Was Framed" T-shirt from Kelly the Kitchen Kop!

    January 31st, 2010 10:09 pm Reply

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