Want to dive deeper? Read more on the grass-fed vs grain-fed debate.
Here’s what's covered in this article:
Grass-Fed Butter 101I know this sounds silly because butter is so common, but have you ever wondered how it’s made? It starts with separating the cream from the fresh milk (usually cows, but you can use any milk, even buffalo, yak, or more traditional sheep, or goat). Then the cream is churned (i.e., shaken, stirred, or beaten) until it thickens into butterfat and buttermilk. The last step is to separate the remaining liquid (the buttermilk) from the butterfat and voila! You have butter (which is essentially pure fat and water). Grass-fed butter is made in the same way traditional butter is, except that it’s made using milk or cream from cows that have been fed grass their entire lives. And that’s a good thing because grasses are a more natural diet and help provide the cows (and the milk that comes from them) with the right balance of nutrients and vitamins.
Lactose intolerant? Try grass-fed ghee. Ghee is butterfat without the casein and lactose and has the same benefits as grass-fed butter (more on this in a second!).
Nutrition Information (for Grass-fed Butter)Approximately 14g of butter (0.93 tablespoons) contains[*]:
- 100 calories
- 11g of fat (with 0g of trans fat and 7g of saturated fat)
- 30mg of cholesterol
- 500 international units (IU) of Vitamin A
- 0.4mg of Vitamin E
- 0.8µg of Vitamin K
And what about fiber and protein...
Nope, butter doesn’t contain either fiber or protein; however, it also doesn’t contain harmful trans fats, carbohydrates, or sugar. Trans fats are a form of unsaturated fat that can increase your chances of developing certain health conditions, including type 2 diabetes and heart disease[*].
Why Grass-Fed Butter Is Better For You (And the Animals!)You know that saying, “you are what you eat”? Well it probably applies to animals too and means that animals that eat higher quality food will they themselves make higher quality food.
In other words, grass-fed cows (compared to grain-fed cows) will produce higher quality milk and butter. Grass-fed butter has more fat-soluble vitamins and omega-3 fats, leading to overall higher quality (read: healthier) dairy products[*][*]. Let’s look at some of the problems that arise when cows are fed grains.
Conventionally-raised cows are given feeds made from corn or soy. And to increase growth, farmers add growth hormones and antibiotics to their food[*][*]. A big problem is that grain-fed products often contain toxins from moldy grains used to feed cows[*]. Genetically modified grains can be extremely inflammatory to the animals that eat them [*], potentially leading to poorer wellbeing for the butter-producing animals.
The overall result is that cows that consume grains are deficient in certain nutrients, have altered hormone levels, and often have trace amounts of antibiotics in their bloodstream. Not to mention may have poorer wellbeing from being fed an artificially enhanced diet (so choose grass-fed butter instead).
Health Benefits of Grass-Fed Butter
1. CLAGrass-fed milk contains 500% more conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) than the typical grain-fed cow milk[*]. And that’s a good thing because CLA is a healthy fat that has been shown to help prevent bone loss, fight cancer, and reduce fat mass[*][*][*]. In addition, it has anti-inflammatory properties and offers protection against chronic diseases[*]. So chances are that upping CLA in your diet is a good thing.
2. Enhances Heart HealthGrass-fed butter is an excellent source of good (High-Density Lipid) HDL cholesterol, antioxidants, and saturated fats. Plus, it contains nutrients such as Vitamin D, Vitamin E, selenium, iodine, Vitamin A, and lecithin that offer protection against heart disease. According to research, inflammation and unsaturated fats cause clogged arteries[*]. Studies have shown that eating dairy fat can decrease your chances of heart attacks or strokes[*][*].
3. Protects Against InflammationGrass-fed butter has greater amounts of omega-3 fatty acids -- eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) than grain-fed[*][*]. Omega-3 fatty acids are well known for their health-promoting properties.
They are a vital component of cells throughout your body. Omega-3 fatty acids may also offer protection against cancer and heart disease. They may help control arthritis, eczema, and other inflammatory conditions[*]. Finally, omega-3 fats also play a significant role in the development of a fetus[*].
4. Helps Reduce WeightGrass-fed butter is a rich source of butyrate, a fatty acid that helps boost your metabolism. According to studies, butyrate enhanced mitochondrial activity and fat burning, maintained healthy blood sugar levels and cholesterol levels, and improved insulin sensitivity in mice[*]. Mitochondria provide energy that your body’s cells need to function. Butyrate has also been found to increase beneficial intestinal bacteria and decrease inflammation[*].
5. Enhances Eye HealthGrass-fed butter contains beta-carotene that your body uses to produce vitamin A[*]. Beta-carotene, a precursor of vitamin A, plays a significant role in your health. Vitamin A is essential for maintaining healthy bones, eyes, and immune system. However, normal butter also contains substantial amounts of carotene[*].
How to Use Grass-Fed ButterUse grass-fed butter exactly the same way you would normal butter. They are essentially the same thing when it comes to practical purposes like cooking and taste. But if you’re looking for new inspiration, try these tricks to add butter to your diet:
- Make a fat coffee
- Drizzle it over vegetables or meat.
- Add grass-fed butter to your oatmeal.
Lactose Intolerant?People with lactose intolerance are unable to process lactose, a sugar primarily found in milk and dairy products. A deficiency of the enzyme lactase, synthesized in the small intestine, is largely responsible. So, if you are lactose intolerant and want to avoid butter, then you can choose clarified butter because it contains even less lactose or no lactose at all.
Final ThoughtsGrass-fed butter is gradually becoming popular among folks who want to live a healthier life. It comes from cows that are fed grass rather than grains. And grass-fed cows produce higher quality butter and milk, with more nutrients and better fats. Grass-fed butter is higher in vitamins, antioxidants, and healthy fats. It also has appetite-suppressing[*] and anti-inflammatory abilities[*].
So, eat grass-fed butter to help:
- Get more CLA
- Protect your heart
- Protect yourself against inflammation
- Reduce weight
- Improve your eye health