How important is butter

Dr. Wewetzer's column : Everything in butter

Sometimes butter is irreplaceable. Melted on tender asparagus, blue trout or crispy toast, their warm aroma can unfold inimitably. Germans love butter. Although consumption is gradually falling, more than five kilograms are still consumed per person per year. And that although the reputation of butter is anything but unsullied. For a long time she was considered a health culprit and fattening food, even if the pro-butter faction has emerged strongly in recent years and extensively praises milk fat. In line with this debate, a study has now been published that deals with the health effects of butter. It bathes the food in a mild light.

Nutritionist Dariush Mozaffarian of Tufts University in Boston and his team scoured scientific databases for butter studies. The question was how fat affects the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and the likelihood of death. Nine studies with a total of more than 630,000 participants proved to be suitable and were analyzed. Result of the evaluation published in the journal “Plos One”: Butter consumption has hardly any effect. The probability of death increases slightly (measured during the duration of the studies), the risk of diabetes decreases slightly, and cardiovascular diseases are not affected.

Butter is not a "demon"

Study author Laura Pimpin comments on the result that butter is a “fairly neutral” food. It is “middle of the road”, healthier than white bread, sugar or potatoes, but the poorer choice compared to many types of margarine and oils, such as those made from soy, rapeseed, linseed and olives. "Our results suggest that butter shouldn't be demonized," says her colleague Mozaffarian. But there is no reason for a big comeback. However, the possible protection against diabetes should be explored.

Butter or margarine? On the crucial question of spreads, the former has now achieved a respectable success. "For healthy people it doesn't matter whether they eat butter or margarine," says Janine Kröger from the German Institute for Nutritional Research in Potsdam-Rehbrücke. “You can decide according to your taste.” If you have a heart condition, you should prefer margarine.

Saturated Fatty Acids - Good Against Diabetes?

Butter contains plenty of saturated fats and cholesterol, margarine more and, in principle, healthier unsaturated fats. But the matter is not black and white and a whole lot more complicated. Because some of the saturated fats in butter are probably even good against vascular problems and diabetes, namely pentadecanoic and heptadecanoic acids. Together with calcium, vitamin D and other ingredients, they could explain why butter does not fare so badly despite its fat and cholesterol content. Incidentally, as is often assumed, butter does not have more calories than margarine. If that's an argument.

Our columnist heads the science department of the Tagesspiegel. Do you have a question about his good news?

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