I grew up in the “Fat Fear” era when margarine and fat-free chocolate Snack-Well cookies were considered smart choices. It has taken me years recover from the “chemicals are better” brainwashing of my youth and embrace healthy fat as a friend. Healthy fats found in whole foods like fish oil, avocados, nuts and grass-fed butter are healing for PCOS. With all the good news about butter, I have overcome my childhood reflex to reject anything “fat,” and I’ve increased my butter consumption over the last 6 months. I am happy to say, my skin looks smoother and hydrated, my mind is clearer, I have more energy, and I am satiated longer after a meal.
Butter has long been the poster child for bad eating habits. No more! Countless studies show that the saturated fat found in grass-fed butter is not the villain it has long been considered to be. In fact, grass-fed butter delivers nutrients that our bodies desperately need.
Dairy is a common inflammatory for women with PCOS, so why is grass-fed butter ok? Grass-fed butter contains very few milk proteins (like casein and BCM-7). These irritants are enzymatically changed during the fermentation process. The result is a beneficial source of fat and nutrients without the dairy side effects.
Why “grass-fed” butter? Studies show that fresh grass in a cow’s diet improves the nutritional properties of the resulting butter. This is not shocking to those of us who try to be conscious about what we eat. It is the same principle at work when we choose organic fruits and vegetables: quality in=quality out. Factory-farmed animals consume cheap, nutrient-free GMO “feedstuffs,” grains and antibiotics. That is not what we want in our food or our bodies. Since fats (like butter) hold onto more toxins than proteins do, we have to be particularly careful about where these fats come from.
Need more convincing?
#1- Grass-fed butter contains the fat your body needs to function.
Fat is an integral part of the function of many systems of our bodies. We require fats (like Omega 3s), but we cannot make them ourselves. We are designed to get these fats from our foods, but we have to consume the right fats. Dietary fat contains more energy per gram than any other nutrient. That means that the right fats (like grass-fed butter) can give your cells efficient power.
If you have PCOS, there is even better news; full fat butter will have less effect on your insulin than a low fat substitute that has added sugar to make up for the loss of flavor. In addition, dietary fat is a basic component of hormones that regulate fertility.
Finally, fat stimulates your liver to produce bile, whose prime function it is to excrete toxins. In this way, fat helps flush out toxic elements. Again, grass-fed butter is the key to this detoxification since it introduces no toxins. It doesn’t help if your butter is introducing as many toxins as it helps to flush.
#2 Grass-fed butter contains butyric acid.
Butyric acid is a short chain fatty acid which is produced in a healthy gut. It can lower cholesterol and triglycerides and increase insulin sensitivity, reduce inflammation and keep toxins from penetrating gut lining. Most people’s production of butyric acid (and most gut flora) needs a boost. In a recent study, mice fed a butyric acid supplement had a 300% increase in their insulin sensitivity.
If you suffer from PCOS, you know about inflammation. It is the root cause of many of our most common symptoms. Studies show that butric acid is a powerful anti-inflammatory. Many scientists believe that the leading cause of heart disease is actually inflammation of the endothelium (lining of your arteries) which leads to the formation of plaque and heart attacks. It seems that by eliminating butter, we have been doing the exact wrong thing for our heart health.
#3 Grass-fed butter contains tons of CLA.
Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) is a healthy type of trans-fat found in the fat and butter of ruminants (like cows). It has anti-inflammatory and cancer fighting properties, encourages muscle growth and helps reduce belly fat. Grass-fed sources contain 300-500% more CLA than grain-fed cattle.
#4 Grass-fed butter is rich in vitamin K2.
If you eat a healthy diet (like PCOS Diva diet), you probably already get plenty of vitamin K1 from the vegetables you eat. K1 can be turned into K2 by our bodies, but not very efficiently; we are designed to get the bulk of our K2 from our food. Grass-fed butter, goose liver, pastured eggs, marrow and kidneys are all good sources of K2. In the case of butter, the greener and fresher the grass the cows consume, the more K2 will be present in the butter.
The function of vitamin K2 is to support bone density and possibly reverse arterial calcification. It activates proteins produced by vitamins A and D who then bind calcium and phosphorus for the building of teeth and bones. It also prevents calcium from being deposited in places we don’t want it such as in arteries, which can cause heart disease and atherosclerosis. Some studies indicate that lack of vitamin K2 may cause kidney stones. If that isn’t enough, K2 is critical for brain function, reproductive health and proper bone (particularly facial) development in nursing infants.
#5 Grass-fed butter contains saturated fat that can improve your blood lipids.
For decades, we have equated saturated fats with high cholesterol and heart disease. Several recent studies indicate that reducing the intake of saturated fat does not reduce the risk of heart disease. In fact, it may increase your risk if you replace the natural saturated fats with the processed fillers and additives (salt, etc.) that food manufacturers put in low-fat products to make up for the fat they removed. Dietary cholesterol has been proven to raise your levels of HDL (the “good” cholesterol) and to change LDL (the “bad” cholesterol) to a more benign form not associated with heart disease. The type of cholesterol present in grass-fed butter actually helps protect your body from heart disease.
#6 Grass-fed butter is loaded with antioxidants.
Vitamins A, D, E, glutathione (GT) and superoxide dismutase (SOD) are all key anti-oxidants that are essential to good health and are present in grass-fed butter. Vitamin A in particular helps maintain your immune system and vision as well as thyroid, adrenal, skin and cardiovascular health. Vitamin A also works together with D and K2 to properly deposit calcium in teeth and bones. Vitamins A, D and E all need the fat in grass-fed butter in order to be absorbed into your body.
#7 Grass-fed butter contains supportive nutrients.
That little yellow pat of grass-fed butter is loaded with important health supporting nutrients and minerals including lecithin, selenium, magnesium, zinc, copper, and iodine as compared to grain-fed butter. Many women with PCOS also have thyroid issues. Grass-fed butter contains iodine which is an important mineral for thyroid support. Finally, grass-fed butter contains Omega-3, which we all need for management of inflammation and insulin levels.
How to Choose:
So now that you understand the benefits of grass-fed butter, how do you choose the right one? If possible, choose raw, organic, grass-fed butter. This butter will be high in all of the nutrients discussed here, but also free of GMO “feed,” grains, antibiotics, dyes, and preservatives. If your grocery store doesn’t carry it, try the local farmer’s market. If you can’t find any in your area, go for pasteurized, organic grass-fed butter. It will lose some of its benefits, but it is still a good alternative. Remember, organic butter is not necessarily grass-fed. As always, read your labels, or even better, talk to the farmer.
Asprey, Dave. The Bulletproof Diet: Lose up to a Pound a Day, Reclaim Energy and Focus, and Upgrade Your Life. New York: Rodale, 2014. Print.
Courveur, S., C. Hurtaud, L. Delaby, and JL Peyraud. “The Linear Relationship between the Proportion of Fresh Grass in the Cow Diet, Milk Fatty Acid Composition, and Butter Properties.” National Center for Biotechnology Information. U.S. National Library of Medicine, 20 Dec. 2005. Web.
Daley, Cynthia A., Amber Abbott, Patrick S. Doyle, Glenn A. Nader, and Stephanie Larson. “A Review of Fatty Acid Profiles and Antioxidant Content in Grass-fed and Grain-fed Beef.” Nutrition Journal. BioMed Central, 10 Mar. 2010. Web.
Gunnars, Kris. “Why Grass-Fed Butter Is Good For You.” Authority Nutrition-An Evidence Based Approach. Authority Nutrition, 14 Nov. 2013. Web.
Lipman, Frank. “BUTTER ME UP! 4 Reasons to Put (Grass-Fed) Butter Back on Your Plate.” Dr. Frank Lipman. Dr. Frank Lipman, Sept. 2015. Web.
“The Many Virtues of Butter.” Paleo Leap. Paleo Leap, 07 Oct. 2010. Web.