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Is Butter Really Back? Depends On Whom You Ask.

Dresden Bakery Prepares Christmas Stollen Loaves
Joern Haufe/Getty Images

This argument has been going on forever and more than likely will continue until the end of time, or until someone finds definitive proof one way or another. Is butter really better for you than margarine? I think you know what the answer currently is; yes and no.

Gastronomes and foodies everywhere have always sung the praises of the creamy emulsion, after all isn’t everything better with butter? Or is that bacon? Or both? In sheer terms of flavor, epicureans would scream, “yes!”. And yet for years, many of us, (me included) sauteed and baked with margarine.

It was certainly less expensive than butter, supposedly better for you than the artery-clogging dairy concoction of milk solids, protein, fat, water and sometimes salt. To be honest, when we were kids, a chocolate chip cookie made with margarine was just as good as one made with butter.

On the other hand our mom made homemade bread with lard, so whatever health gains may have been made in one area were reversed in another. We would also slather that warm, homemade lard bread with margarine, which (when you think about it) made absolutely no sense either!

Then came the 1980s, when concerns over trans fats (the result of adding hydrogen to vegetable oil) first emerged. Right around 1994 research indicated trans fats were actually responsible for killing thousands of people by causing coronary artery disease and they became the red-headed stepchildren of the culinary world.

That was also when saturated fats (butter, bacon, fatty proteins, etc.) began to be touted as a better choice. But are they? Again, the answer is yes–and no. A recent Tufts University study (June, 2016) as translated by a Times magazine health writer indicated that butter was most likely a “middle-of-the-road food”, “better than sugar, worse than olive oil”.

The study doesn’t say butter is good for you, nor does it say butter will kill you. But it has kicked open the door for butter lovers, pastry chefs, dairy farmers, people like Paula Deen and millionaire Dave Asprey. Asprey is a millionaire, former tech executive, who pursues a better mind and body by using science. He created a product he calls Bulletproof coffee, which he hopes to be hawking to the masses one day soon.

Bulletproof coffee, at the most elementary level, is coffee- with a big lump of butter melted in it. Asprey says he drinks it with his “smart drugs” in the morning and it has made him an even bigger, happier, healthier success than he was in the tech world. He got the idea while drinking yak-butter tea (ick!) in Tibet, which made him feel “superhuman”.

Butter coffee aside, restaurants, bars, bistros, bakeries, state & country fairs, food distributors, (you name it) across the country have added butter in, on, and around their offerings, in every form you can imagine; from deep-fried butter to fat-washed cocktails.

U.S. consumption of butter alone, is expected to rise 8 percent over last year and will be equal to “940,000 metric tons“, (that’s a whole lotta butta!). On the down side, (yeah, there is always at least one of those) butter prices are expected to rise and dietarily, butter is still a fat. So, if you’re aiming for a healthy diet, as your mother used to say, “moderation is (still) the key”.

Sources: Yahoo Finance, Time Magazine.com, Bloomberg.com, Tufts University, Harvard School of Public Health, News-Medical.net

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