Ever since 1970, when scientists first began looking at the link between diet and cardiovascular disease with the Seven Countries Study, butter has been given an increasingly bad rap. Based on the findings of that report, the public was encouraged to forgo animal products like red meat and dairy for their high levels of saturated fat. But now, thanks to data combined from nine different studies in the academic journal PLOS One, it turns out butter might not be the supervillain we once thought it was.
The new, compiled report, led by senior researchers from Harvard University and Tufts University, found no evidence that the consumption of butter drastically changed the likelihood of conditions like cardiovascular disease, coronary heart disease, or stroke. According to StatNews, a tablespoon of butter each day was shown to increase the risk of mortality by just 1 percent, while those who eat butter on a daily basis could lower their risk of diabetes by as much as 4 percent.
"Emerging evidence suggests cardiometabolic benefits of dairy products and dairy fat," the PLOS One study states. "Evidence on the role of butter, with high saturated dairy fat content, for total mortality, cardiovascular disease, and type 2 diabetes remains unclear."
"These findings do not support a need for major emphasis in dietary guidelines on either increasing or decreasing butter consumption," the report continues.
In 2016, it appears there's no longer any reason to feel guilty about buttering both sides of the toast. According to StatNews, Americans are eating more butter now than they have in a generation, and the difference between indulging and not indulging is actually quite miniscule.
“This study adds to a growing understanding that saturated fats are not public health enemy number one,” Dr. David Ludwig, an endocrinologist and a professor of nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health told the website. “This is neither a health food that should be sought out, and on the other hand it’s not a food that should be avoided at all costs,” added Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian, an epidemiologist at Tufts.
Mozaffarian speculates that butter consumption does correlate with a less healthy lifestyle, which may explain the small link between mortality and butter consumption. More research is needed on potential benefits, but as things stand right now, saturated fats probably won't kill us anytime soon.
So, live fast, die happy, and eat lots of butter.