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Why Butter Is Better PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sally Fallon and Mary G. Enig, PhD   
Saturday, 01 January 2000 17:00

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When the fabricated food folks and apologists for the corporate farm realized that they couldn't block America's growing interest in diet and nutrition, a movement that would ultimately put an end to America's biggest and most monopolistic industries, they infiltrated the movement and put a few sinister twists on information going out to the public. Item number one in the disinformation campaign was the assertion that naturally saturated fats from animal sources are the root cause of the current heart disease and cancer plague. Butter bore the brunt of the attack, and was accused of terrible crimes. The Diet Dictocrats told us that it was better to switch to polyunsaturated margarine and most Americans did. Butter all but disappeared from our tables, shunned as a miscreant.

This would come as a surprise to many people around the globe who have valued butter for its life-sustaining properties for millennia. When Dr. Weston Price studied native diets in the 1930's he found that butter was a staple in the diets of many supremely healthy peoples.1 Isolated Swiss villagers placed a bowl of butter on their church altars, set a wick in it, and let it burn throughout the year as a sign of divinity in the butter. Arab groups also put a high value on butter, especially deep yellow-orange butter from livestock feeding on green grass in the spring and fall. American folk wisdom recognized that children raised on butter were robust and sturdy; but that children given skim milk during their growing years were pale and thin, with "pinched" faces.2

Does butter cause disease? On the contrary, butter protects us against many diseases.

Butter & Heart Disease

Heart disease was rare in America at the turn of the century. Between 1920 and 1960, the incidence of heart disease rose precipitously to become America's number one killer. During the same period butter consumption plummeted from eighteen pounds per person per year to four. It doesn't take a Ph.D. in statistics to conclude that butter is not a cause. Actually butter contains many nutrients that protect us from heart disease. First among these is vitamin A which is needed for the health of the thyroid and adrenal glands, both of which play a role in maintaining the proper functioning of the heart and cardiovascular system. Abnormalities of the heart and larger blood vessels occur in babies born to vitamin A deficient mothers. Butter is America's best and most easily absorbed source of vitamin A.

Butter contains lecithin, a substance that assists in the proper assimilation and metabolism of cholesterol and other fat constituents.

Butter also contains a number of anti-oxidants that protect against the kind of free radical damage that weakens the arteries. Vitamin A and vitamin E found in butter both play a strong anti-oxidant role. Butter is a very rich source of selenium, a vital anti-oxidant--containing more per gram than herring or wheat germ.

Butter is also a good dietary source cholesterol. What?? Cholesterol an anti-oxidant?? Yes indeed, cholesterol is a potent anti-oxidant that is flooded into the blood when we take in too many harmful free-radicals--usually from damaged and rancid fats in margarine and highly processed vegetable oils.3 A Medical Research Council survey showed that men eating butter ran half the risk of developing heart disease as those using margarine.4

Butter & Cancer

In the 1940's research indicated that increased fat intake caused cancer.5 The abandonment of butter accelerated; margarine--formerly a poor man's food-- was accepted by the well-to-do. But there was a small problem with the way this research was presented to the public. The popular press neglected to stress that fact that the "saturated" fats used in these experiments were not naturally saturated fats but partially hydrogenated or hardened fats--the kind found mostly in margarine but not in butter. Researchers stated--they may have even believed it--that there was no difference between naturally saturated fats in butter and artificially hardened fats in margarine and shortening. So butter was tarred with the black brush of the fabricated fats, and in such a way that the villains got passed off as heroes.

Actually many of the saturated fats in butter have strong anti-cancer properties. Butter is rich in short and medium chain fatty acid chains that have strong anti-tumor effects.6 Butter also contains conjugated linoleic acid which gives excellent protection against cancer.7

Vitamin A and the anti-oxidants in butter--vitamin E, selenium and cholesterol--protect against cancer as well as heart disease.

Butter & the Immune System

Vitamin A found in butter is essential to a healthy immune system; short and medium chain fatty acids also have immune system strengthening properties. But hydrogenated fats and an excess of long chain fatty acids found in polyunsaturated oils and many butter substitutes both have a deleterious effect on the immune system.8

Butter & Arthritis

The Wulzen or "anti-stiffness" factor is a nutrient unique to butter. Dutch researcher Wulzen found that it protects against calcification of the joints--degenerative arthritis--as well as hardening of the arteries, cataracts and calcification of the pineal gland.9 Unfortunately this vital substance is destroyed during pasteurization. Calves fed pasteurized milk or skim milk develop joint stiffness and do not thrive. Their symptoms are reversed when raw butterfat is added to the diet.

Butter & Osteoporosis

Vitamins A and D in butter are essential to the proper absorption of calcium and hence necessary for strong bones and teeth. The plague of osteoporosis in milk-drinking western nations may be due to the fact that most people choose skim milk over whole, thinking it is good for them. Butter also has anti-cariogenic effects, that is, it protects against tooth decay.10

Butter & the Thyroid Gland

Butter is a good source of iodine, in highly absorbable form. Butter consumption prevents goiter in mountainous areas where seafood is not available. In addition, vitamin A in butter is essential for proper functioning of the thyroid gland.11

Butter & Gastrointestinal Health

Butterfat contains glycospingolipids, a special category of fatty acids that protect against gastro-intestinal infection, especially in the very young and the elderly. For this reason, children who drink skim milk have diarrhea at rates three to five times greater than children who drink whole milk.12 Cholesterol in butterfat promotes health of the intestinal wall and protects against cancer of the colon.13 Short and medium chain fatty acids protect against pathogens and have strong anti-fungal effects.14 Butter thus has an important role to play in the treatment of candida overgrowth.

Butter & Weight Gain

The notion that butter causes weight gain is a sad misconception. The short and medium chain fatty acids in butter are not stored in the adipose tissue, but are used for quick energy. Fat tissue in humans is composed mainly of longer chain fatty acids.15 These come from olive oil and polyunsaturated oils as well as from refined carbohydrates. Because butter is rich in nutrients, it confers a feeling of satisfaction when consumed. Can it be that consumption of margarine and other butter substitutes results in cravings and bingeing because these highly fabricated products don't give the body what it needs?.

Butter for Growth & Development

Many factors in butter ensure optimal growth of children. Chief among them is vitamin A. Individuals who have been deprived of sufficient vitamin A during gestation tend to have narrow faces and skeletal structure, small palates and crowded teeth.16 Extreme vitamin A deprivation results in blindness, skeletal problems and other birth defects.17 Individuals receiving optimal vitamin A from the time of conception have broad handsome faces, strong straight teeth, and excellent bone structure. Vitamin A also plays an important role in the development of the sex characteristics. Calves fed butter substitutes sicken and die before reaching maturity.18

The X factor, discovered by Dr. Weston Price (and now believed to be vitamin K2), is also essential for optimum growth. It is only present in butterfat from cows on green pasture.19 Cholesterol found in butterfat plays an important role in the development of the brain and nervous system.20 Mother's milk is high in cholesterol and contains over 50 percent of its calories as butterfat. Low fat diets have been linked to failure to thrive in children21--yet low-fat diets are often recommended for youngsters! Children need the many factors in butter and other animal fats for optimal development.

Beyond Margarine

It's no longer a secret that the margarine Americans have been spreading on their toast, and the hydrogenated fats they eat in commercial baked goods like cookies and crackers, is the chief culprit in our current plague of cancer and heart disease.22 But mainline nutrition writers continue to denigrate butter--recommending new fangled tub spreads instead.23 These may not contain hydrogenated fats but they are composed of highly processed rancid vegetable oils, soy protein isolate and a host of additives. A glitzy cookbook called Butter Busters promotes butter buds, made from maltodextrin, a carbohydrate derived from corn, along with dozens of other highly processed so-called low-fat commercial products.

Who benefits from the propaganda blitz against butter? The list is a long one and includes orthodox medicine, hospitals, the drug companies and food processors. But the chief beneficiary is the large corporate farm and the cartels that buy their products--chiefly cotton, corn and soy--America's three main crops, which are usually grown as monocultures on large farms, requiring extensive use of artificial fertilizers and pesticides. All three--soy, cotton and corn--can be used to make both margarine and the new designer spreads. In order to make these products acceptable to the up-scale consumer, food processors and agribusiness see to it that they are promoted as health foods. We are fools to believe them.

Butter & the Family Farm

A nation that consumes butterfat, on the other hand, is a nation that sustains the family farm. If Americans were willing to pay a good price for high quality butter and cream, from cows raised on natural pasturage--every owner of a small- or medium-sized farm could derive financial benefits from owning a few Jersey or Guernsey cows. In order to give them green pasture, he would naturally need to rotate crops, leaving different sections of his farm for his cows to graze and at the same time giving the earth the benefit of a period of fallow--not to mention the benefit of high quality manure. Fields tended in this way produce very high quality vegetables and grains in subsequent seasons, without the addition of nitrogen fertilizers and with minimal use of pesticides. Chickens running around his barnyard, and feeding off bugs that gather under cowpaddies, would produce eggs with superb nutritional qualities--absolutely bursting with vitamin A and highly beneficial fatty acids.

If you wish to reestablish America as a nation of prosperous farmers in the best Jeffersonian tradition, buy organic butter, cream, whole milk, whole yoghurt, and barn-free eggs. These bring good and fair profits to the yeoman producer without concentrating power in the hands of conglomerates.

Ethnic groups that do not use butter obtain the same nutrients from things like insects, organ meats, fish eggs and the fat of marine animals, food items most of us find repulsive. For Americans--who do not eat bugs or blubber--butter is not just better, it is essential.


  1. Price, Weston, DDS Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, 1945, Price Pottenger Nutrition Foundation, Inc., La Mesa, California
  2. Representative of American folk traditions about butterfat is this passage from "Neighbor Rosicky", by American author Willa Cather: [The Rosickys] had been at one accord not to hurry through life, not to be always skimping and saving. They saw their neighbours buy more land and feed more stock than they did, without discontent. Once when the creamery agent came to the Rosickys to persuade them to sell him their cream, he told them how much the Fasslers, their nearest neighbours, had made on their cream last year. "Yes," said Mary, "and look at them Fassler children! Pale, pinched little things, they look like skimmed milk. I'd rather put some colour into my children's faces than put money into the bank."
  3. Cranton, EM, MD and JP Frackelton, MD, Journal of Holistic Medicine, Spring/Summer 1984
  4. Nutrition Week Mar 22, 1991 21:12:2-3
  5. Enig, Mary G, PhD, Nutrition Quarterly, 1993 Vol 17, No 4
  6. Cohen, L A et al, J Natl Cancer Inst 1986 77:43
  7. Belury, MA Nutrition Reviews, April 1995 53:(4) 83-89
  8. Cohen, op cit
  9. American Journal of Physical Medicine, 1941, 133; Physiological Zoology, 1935 8:457
  10. Kabara, J J, The Pharmacological Effects of Lipids, J J Kabara, ed, The American Oil Chemists Society, Champaign, IL 1978 pp 1-14
  11. Jennings, IW Vitamins in Endocrine Metabolism, Charles C. Thomas Publisher, Springfield, Ill, pp 41-57
  12. Koopman, JS, et al American Journal of Public Health 1984 74(12):1371-1373
  13. Addis, Paul, Food and Nutrition News, March/April 1990 62:2:7-10
  14. Prasad, KN, Life Science, 1980, 27:1351-8; Gershon, Herman and Larry Shanks, Symposium on the Pharmacological Effect of Lipids, Jon J Kabara Ed, American Oil Chemists Society, Champaign, Illinois 1978 51-62
  15. Levels of linoleic acid in adipose tissues reflect the amount of linoleic acid in the diet. Valero, et al Annals of Nutritional Metabolism, Nov/Dec 1990 34:6:323-327; Felton, CV et al, Lancet 1994 344:1195-96
  16. Price, op cit
  17. Jennings, op cit
  18. DeCava, Judith Journal of the National Academy of Research Biochemists, September 1988 1053-1059
  19. Price, op cit
  20. Alfin-Slater, R B and L Aftergood, "Lipids", Modern Nutrition in Health and Disease, Chapter 5, 6th ed, R S Goodhart and M E Shils, eds, Lea and Febiger, Philadelphia 1980, p 131
  21. Smith, MM, MNS RD and F Lifshitz, MD Pediatrics, Mar 1994 93:3:438-443
  22. Enig, op cit
  23. "Diet Roulette", The New York Times, May 20, 1994.

About the Authors



Comments (36)Add Comment
M.D. (Internal Medicine), Ph.D. (Organic Chemistry)
written by Jose Campana, Nov 13 2013
A couple of comments: 1) A very informative and well-written article; not only about butter, but about Big Agro and how much damage they are doing to our environment. I've been spreading (pun intended) the good news about real butter since I learned the truth circa 1985. I still cringe when I think of all the margarine garbage my mom fed us while I was growing up. She bought the propaganda. 2) The last chemical compound in ones body anyone should want acting as an anti-oxidant is cholesterol. An "anti-oxidant" is simply a chemical reducing agent, which is oxidized when it reacts just as oxidizing agents are reduced. Only oxidized cholesterol/lipoprotein particles penetrate the arterial wall, thus beginning a cascade of events which ultimately end in an arterial plaque. Vitamin E will act as an anti-oxidant, but it is not a particularly strong one, therefore, I strongly recommend taking at least 2 x 500 mg of vitamin C and 2 x 200 mg of lipoic acid every day to protect ones LDL from oxidation. 3) Please, NEVER eat cottonseed oil unless it's organic. I worked in the agro business until I quit in disgust. At least in the US, and this may be hard to believe, the crop dosed with the largest variety and the highest mass of agricultural chemicals is cotton. Although we already knew the answers, my lab tested the entire cotton plant for each chemical to locate and document the plant parts with the highest concentrations of the [C-14 labeled] ag chemicals. The cottonseed oil always contained >90% of each chemical since the chemicals and nearly all their metabolites are highly soluble in oils and fats rather than aqueous media.
Kerrygold butter vs. organic butter
written by Tiffany, Oct 26 2013
I don’t have access to raw grass fed dairy where I live so the best I can find is certified organic butter that is mostly grass fed depending on weather and fed certified organic grains including corn and soy. I could however cross the borders to the States and stock up on some Kerrygold butter. Is this better than the butter I have now? I’ve heard that Kerrygold cannot guarantee that their grain feed is GMO free so i’m quite worried there as I avoid all GMOs.
written by Becky, Oct 03 2013
Is there a brand of REAL butter that can be found in a grocery store? We purchase our butter at SAMs Club but how can I be sure it is the real thing? Thanks for any help.
Reply to "Butter Benefits" by Sarah May below
written by Joyce, Aug 01 2013
Butter can be made from either pasteurized milk or raw milk. Some nutrients are destroyed by pasteurization while others are not, or not totally destroyed. For example, the Wulzen "anti-stiffness" factor is destroyed by pasteurization; I believe the "x-factor" is not, although I'd have to check to be sure. Raw butter made from cows on pasture is much preferable to pasteurized butter, but pasteurized butter is better than consuming butter "spreads", margarine, or vegetable oils.
written by some dairy farmer, Feb 24 2013
Old article I know, but I'm a NZ dairy farmer and the way this guy preaches is basically the way we farm here. He's right you know. We fertilise with effluent, chicken shit, waste whey from milk plants, and anything else full of protein and minerals. It costs next to nothing, hurts noone, and makes you filty rich come payout season. The world needs to pay attention to that.
butter benefits
written by Sarah May, Jan 17 2013
Is butter made from pasteurised milk? If so, does it have the same benefits as what is described above? I thought that pasteurisation destroyed enzymes and rendered vitamins void . Not sure though . Mind, I live in Australia and all raw dairy products are labelled "not for human consumption" , as it is illegal to sell them as food :/
Butter IS better
written by Anna, Jan 14 2013
Love the taste of butter and my "gut" just knew that it wasn't a "bad" thing. I leave a stick at a time out in a butter dish to easily slather on whenever. Been doing this for many years and never a problem with it going bad. It doesn't sit out too long because it's used regularly.
Satisfies those night time cravings....Wheat toast or english muffins with organic butter and a small glass of cold raw milk) then to bed.
I'm 60 and people think I'm 50 and I arely get sick. Moderation, common sense, and listen to what the body tells you.(Mine wants butter!)I'm not a big meat eater at all, so that's how I justify it.
written by Marie E Gadbois Williams, Jul 31 2012
I grew up on a 3/4 acre farm with a cow, chickens, ducks, sheep, goats and a garden. We always had fresh milk, butter, cheese, eggs, meat and veggies. I try to eat as much natural food as possable. As for anything artificial or manufactured that is passed for food can't be good for you much less healthy. It
would make me happy to not have to buy food of any kind in town.
Butter, natures food
written by James, Jul 08 2012
Doctor just told me to go back to eating butter. I laughed and he said he'd had it with all this food nonsense and recommended just eating natural foods ie. food from my farm! Ha, smilies/grin.gifsmilies/wink.gif
All Butters are not the same
written by Judy, Mar 29 2012
Common grocery-store butter is not the same as butter made from the milk of grass-fed cows. And, regardless of how healthful a fat is, it should be consumed in limited amounts.
written by Lauren, Mar 12 2012
Butter & cream
written by Kris Johnson, Aug 24 2011
Comment to 'Cream' - by all means, cream has the nutrients of butter. It takes the cream from about 2 to 2 1/2 gallons of milk to make one pound of butter.

I should add another reason for using butter - the nutrients in butter are essential for absorbing and utilizing the nutrients in vegetables, so butter those veggies!
written by Jonathan, Jun 30 2011
Butter from cows is naturally deep yellow or orange when they are eating rapidly growing grass - usually during the spring. Other times it will be naturally yellow. No annatto involved.
written by olivia, Mar 01 2011
Since butter is made from cream would you get the same properties of butter in the cream just in less concentrated amounts? I can't get raw butter and don't really have time to make butter enough for our needs but we do have a lot of raw cream.
written by James Speed, Feb 05 2011
Thank you for the great information on butter. Years ago my wife and I got off margarine and started using butter. We had heard the bad things about margarine and found them to be true. Now, years later we make our own butter from Heavy Cream - there's nothing like it!
written by Misty, Feb 05 2011
For the record, butter is not a deep yellow/orange color. That is a coloring they add into butter which is called usually annatto. I raise dairy goats and our butter is white just like the milk.
Mmm Butter!
written by Crystal - Prenatal Coach, Feb 05 2011
Thanks for writing such an informative post about the benefits of butter! Organic, grass-fed butter is an important component of my preconception and soon-to-be pregnancy diet!
Butter Bell
written by Barb Bailey, Dec 31 2010
Butter Bells are used to keep butter at room temperature. Butter is placed in the "bell" part and turned upside down and placed in the crock part that has enough water to make a seal when the bell is placed inside it. Love butter! Have been using it for years now.
written by Dona LaDoux-Renner, Aug 21 2010
Much to learn. Have eaten butter life long - but compromised my diet in other ways, e.g. drinking soda pop, few vegetables, and low volume of skim milk. I very much enjoy whipped butter and keep it in the cupboard safely for a week at a time without rancidity.
written by Ron Fonteine, Jul 31 2010
Thanks for your hard work to get the truth out....
always thought it was better
written by Max, May 22 2010
Hah! I always thought it was better. Been buying butter for 5yrs now. I need a bull then I can get me some real milk from the 2 cows out the back.
written by John, May 03 2010
I absolutely believe that "Butter is Better" but here in Australia I find that the battle is often lost to turn friends and family away from margarine mainly because of price. 250grams of pasteurized butter can cost $1.97 up to $5 if it is "Organic" whilst 1kg margarine is just $1.25 and the very few outlets for 'natural organic butter' charge around $12 a kilo.
However, we must keep on pointing out the truth, in the end the Truth will indeed set us free.

Doctors are the other problem smilies/cry.gif
written by Jobert, Apr 23 2010
Thanks for all the work of the WAPF staff to share this info with us! I finally decided to order raw milk and butter from a local farm. I am looking forward to trying it, and knowing that I doing something good for my body, for the small farmer, and for the environment.
Pasturization and its effects...
written by Glenn, Mar 24 2010
After a great deal of research about the effects pasteurization has on milk, I found that once this process is done, the nutritional value is destroyed and all that is left is a delicious sanitized liquid of oxidized fat that causes more health problems than the miraculous elixir of raw milk ever did. Simply put, the reasons why pasteurization regulations were put into law was because, as the demand for milk consumption increased so did the proper cleanliness of the cows and the milking plants. Reckless care in cleanliness within those milking plants, the cows, as well as the employees were not regulated and inspected like say, a restaurant is today. Food establishments are required to have the proper permits, pass inspections and employees must go through a procedure, get the proper education, and obtain a food-handler health card. Smart, common sense cleanliness and strict guidelines would allow the elixir of raw milk to once again be served as the miraculous nourishment it is in its natural state. But you must understand that the huge milk producers love the pasteurization process because rather than having to deal with strict guidelines of cleanliness and proper food-handling it's just more convenient and more profitable and safer (yeah, whatever) to cook the nutritional life out of it.
Which is better
written by Liesbet Bickett, Mar 24 2010
Which is better? Raw grassfed butter or pasturized cultured early grass fed butter. The pasturized butter has better color which I take to mean it comes from a better quality grass in the diet, also it's cultured.

Thank you!
written by I love Butter!, Mar 09 2010
Thank you for telling people that butter is better!smilies/smiley.gif Hopefully people will start using butter instead of margarine!smilies/cheesy.gif We have been using butter for years now and we are glad of it!
Thanks for the Info!
written by Jessica, Mar 08 2010
I was just referred to this site by a blogger who does a regular post on "healthy breakfast" recipes. She basically harnesses this essay's mentality of butter and usually includes about a stick of butter in every recipe. I find this article both compelling and fascinating.

Personally, I buy Smart Balance 50/50 (50 u;tter, 50&#xOl;ive Oil), but I'm going to stick to regular butter from now on and organic butter if I can afford it!
Many thanks to the authors! =)
for the planet, Low-rated comment [Show]
Butter it's whats for dinner!!!
written by Sarah, Mar 02 2010
smilies/grin.gif I stopped buying plastic maybe 1 1/2 year ago. We use ONLY butter. I leave some in the fridge and some in a butter dish for toast and such. You don't need as much and it taste great it adds a richness to our foods that many times you don't need to add dessert b/c you have already satified that area and you don't even realize it.

I'm lactose in tol. for milk any suggestions... should I try a local dairy and see if I can stomach that?
written by Zeke, Feb 26 2010
@Pam If you don't want hard butter don't put it in the fridge. There are ways to keep your butter fresh and spreadable without refrigeration.
Butter Yield
written by Will Quesnel, Feb 21 2010
I am a recent addition to the Nourishing Traditions family. Can anyone tell me how much cream I can expect to derive from a quart of milk? Or any yield measurements in general? I want to know how much milk I need to buy in order to yield a quart's worth of cream (so that I can make my own cultured butter).

I'm so excited eating raw dairy, having been unable to digest dairy for the last 5 years!

: )
This information was a Godsend
written by Twana Hatter, Feb 20 2010
Thank you so much for this informative and in-depth article on butter. I knew that better contained many things in it for my health and could never understand why the food and drug administration insisted that margarine (something artificial) is actually better than something all natural? hmmmmm? I never believed it, Thanks so much!
written by Brigitte, Feb 20 2010
I just recently purchased this book: Nourishing Traditions, and I love it. All the information is so self explanitory and I love butter. Bought a scone and a hard roll today at a local bakery which bakes with butter only! Yummy :o)
..., Low-rated comment [Show]
I knew IT !!
written by Terry Evans, Feb 04 2010
I was raised milking the cows, waiting for cream then taking it to the guy that pasturized it - it was far better tating milk and butter and some of the fondest memories of childhood include taking the cream by finger when no one was looking - I refuse to let ANY tub of fake lard soy crap in my house, Thank for the info.
Terry Evans
written by Pam, Feb 03 2010
I use Nuttlex which I thought was an excellent alternative. It is non dairy and spreadable! How do you get around hard butter?

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Last Updated on Tuesday, 17 May 2011 15:23