The Benefits of Eating Grass-Fed Butter

butter is really good for you

Butter has gotten a lot of flak because of its saturated fat content. Many people assume that because of its saturated fat content it could cause skyrocketing cholesterol levels, clogged arteries and heart attack. Heart disease is the world’s leading cause of death. Around the end of 1970’s, nutrition professionals decided that foods high in saturated fat like butter were to blame for heart disease. However scientific studies found that butter from grass-fed cows is good for your heart.

The Saturated Fat Myth and why It’s Not The Devil It Was Made Out to be

The reason butter was demonized by nutrition professionals is because it is high in saturated fat.

However, the saturated fat content in butter is really not a cause for concern.

Medical studies showed that there is no significant evidence for concluding that dietary saturated fat is associated with an increased risk of heart disease. (1)

A review of medical studies didn’t find any correlation between consumption of saturated fat (in general) and heart disease. (2)

In fact, consumption of saturated fats can increase levels of HDL (good cholesterol), which is associated with a lower risk of heart disease (3, 4).

Consumption of saturated fats can also change the LDL from small, dense (bad) to Large LDL – which is not associated with heart disease (5, 6).

As you can see the myth about saturated fat causing heart disease has been proven wrong by medical studies. There is no reason to avoid butter because of its saturated fat content.

Butter From Grass-Fed Cows Contains Heart-Healthy Nutrients

Butter is just milk fat, also known as butterfat. Scientists found that butter contains around 400 different fatty acids, and a good amount of fat-soluble vitamins (7).

One of the fatty acid in butter is called conjugated linoleic acid (CLA). Many people use CLA as weight loss supplement, and medical studies show that it can be extremely beneficial for your health (8, 9).

The Journal of Dietary Sciences reported that grass-fed butter contains 500% more CLA than butter from grain-fed cows (10).

Butter From Grass Fed Cows Contains Vitamin K2 that De-Calcifies Your Arteries

Vitamin K is an extremely important nutrient for optimal heart health.

There are two main forms of vitamin K:

  • Vitamin K1 (phylloquinone) – found in plant foods like leafy greens and broccoli
  • Vitamin K2 (menaquinone) – found in animal foods especially in organ meat and pastured dairy products

Vitamin K1 is important in blood clotting. Vitamin K2 helps to prevent vascular calcification. (11, 12).

Butter from grass-fed cows is one of the best sources of vitamin K2 in the diet. Egg yolks, beef liver and natto are also good sources of vitamin K2. (13, 14).

The Journal of Nutrition published a study about the effects of Vitamin K2 on heart disease. This study followed 4807 individuals for 7-10 years. At baseline, the group had no cases of heart attack. Participants in the study who consumed the largest amount of vitamin K2 had significant lower risk of death from heart disease, lower risk of death from all-causes, and lower incidence of severe calcification in the aorta. (15)

Another study involved 562 post-menopausal women. 62% of the women had evidence of coronary calcification. However women with the highest intake of vitamin K2 had significantly decreased calcification of the coronary arteries (16).

Another three-year, double-blind, placebo-controlled study of 244 post-menopausal women showed improvement in arterial stiffness with just a 180 mcg/day dose of vitamin K2 (17).

The above studies showed that vitamin K2 is an important nutrients for heart health, so the advice to avoid grass fed butter and eggs may actually increase your risk of heart disease.

Butter From Grass Fed Cows Contains Omega-3 Fatty Acids that Help Prevent Heart Attack

Butter from grass-fed cows is also much higher in Omega-3 fatty acids than butter from grain-fed cows (18).

Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to significantly reduce the risk for sudden death caused by cardiac arrhythmias irregular heart beat) and all-cause mortality in patients with known coronary heart disease. Omega-3 fatty acids are also used to treat high blood pressure and high lipid levels in the blood. (22)

As you can see, eating butter from grass-fed cows is good for your heart because of its omega-3 fatty acids.

Consumption of Grass-Fed Butter is Associated With a Dramatic Reduction in Heart Disease Risk

In countries where cows are mainly grass-fed, people who eat high fat dairy products tend to have a drastically reduced risk of heart disease.

One study looked at people who consumed high-fat dairy products in Australia. The cows in Australia are grass fed so these people consumed dairy products from grass-fed cows.

According to the study, participants who consumed the most high-fat dairy products had a 69% lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease, compared to those who ate the least (19).

Several studies in European countries, where cows are mainly grass-fed, have shown that consumption of high fat dairy products is linked to reduced risk of  heart disease and strokes (20, 21).

Related: Proven Heart Healthy Foods to Include in Your Diet

Grass-Fed Butter is Healthy in Small Amounts

Despite having a bad publicity in the past, the evidence shows that butter from grass fed cows can be beneficial.

But it does NOT mean that you should eat a LOT of butter. Butter is high in calories and over consumption of butter can cause weight gain.

Use butter from grass fed cows for baking or cooking in reasonable amount, but don’t use tons of butter just because you expect it will improve your health.

Related: 80% of Heart Attacks Could Be Avoided by Doing These 5 Easy Things

You also need to make sure you are aware of the signs of heart attack as this can save your life. Here are the most common sings of heart attack (some of them may appear a month before it happens).

Warning Signs Of Heart Attack May Appear a Month Before it Happens

Warning signs of a heart attack can be misdiagnosed as heartburn, muscle soreness, flu, and other non-cardiac causes. The higher your risk the more likely those signs mean something is going wrong with your heart. And you should take those signs very seriously. The quicker you end up in the hospital the more chance you have to pull through.

Risk factors include:

A Month Before Heart Attack You May Experience These Signs

It appears to be that the symptoms of heart attack in women can be quite different for women than men.

The journal Circulation published in 2003 a study that included 515 women who had a heart attack. The researchers found that the most frequent initial symptoms experienced more than 1 month before the heart attack were:

  1. unusual fatigue
  2. sleep disturbance
  3. shortness of breath

Only 29.7% of the women reported chest discomfort, a common symptom in men.

The most frequent acute symptoms were shortness of breath, weakness, and fatigue. Acute chest pain was absent in 43%.

10 Signs of a Heart Attack You Shouldn’t Ignore

1.      Anxiety

Just before having a heart attack many people experience feelings of anxiety and extreme nervousness.

2.      Chest Pain

This is the most classical symptom of a heart attack. The chest pain is centered, slightly to the left, under your breastbone.

Many describe this type of chest pain as “an elephant sitting on the chest”. So whenever you feel an uncomfortable pressure, burning or crushing sensation, squeezing or fullness on your chest and have other signs, don’t hesitate to call for help.

Note that not all chest pain is related to a heart disease. When the pain is sharp and stabbing it is generally not related to a heart attack. If you’re not sure, better call for help than to wait. Seconds can save lives here.

3.      Shortness of Breath

Another common sign of having a heart attack is shortness of breath. It’s like you just ran a marathon and find it difficult to take long, deep breathes due to a tight feeling in the chest.

4.      Cold Sweat

Another common sign is breaking out in a cold sweat while sitting still. This sign never stands on its own though. Most people who have a heart attack experience chest pressure or pain, shortness of breath and cold sweat all at the same time.

5.      Spreading Pain

Mostly the pain of a heart attack starts in the chest and spreads to the shoulders, shoulder blade, arms, elbow, back, neck, jaw and abdomen. The pain will mostly spread to the left side of your body.

In some cases there is no chest pain, just the pain in these body parts and therefore people often think they have sore muscles. The pain may come and go or it may be a constant pain.

6.      Fluid Accumulation

Heart failure can accumulate fluids, making your feet, legs, and abdomen swell. Abdominal swelling can lead to a loss of appetite. Those fluids can also accumulate in your lungs, causing a persistent cough or wheeze. Some people even cough up bloody phlegm.

7.      Irregular Heart Pulse

Irregular heart pulses or arrhythmia combined with dizziness, weakness and shortness of breath can be a sign of a heart attack.

8.      Light headed

Lightheadedness and loss of consciousness can occur while experiencing other heart attack symptoms.

9.      Fatigue And Weakness

Unusual fatigue and weakness can occur in the days or weeks before having a heart attack.

10.  Nausea and vomiting

Not the most common sign and especially women feel sick to their stomach when having a heart attack.

Heart Attack and CPK Levels

Another tool to diagnose a heart attack is checking levels of the enzyme creatine phosphokinase (or, CPK) in the blood. Doctors usually arrange for a CPK blood test in an emergency situation, for example after a suspected heart attack to identify the extent of muscle damage.

CPK levels can be excessively high if a person has suffered a heart attack which has resulted in muscle damage to the heart.

Not Everyone Having a Heart Attack will have the Typical Symptoms

Not everyone having a heart attack will have the typical symptoms of chest pain, sweat, and shortness of breath. Especially women experience more vomiting and dizziness and therefore they often think it’s the flu or a cold.

Symptoms can come in a matter of seconds or slowly build-up for days and even weeks. So at any time you may think there’s something wrong call for help.

Acting fast can save your life and when things turn really bad, don’t drive yourself but call 911 and try to stay calm and breathe slowly. Also if you’re not allergic to aspirin it is wise to crush or chew on one to limit the damage.

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