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Butter and Paleo – Where Do We Stand?
Can you eat butter on the Paleo diet? Cavemen didn’t do that.
I’m going to be honest here – sometimes, the whole “eat as a caveman would…” does more harm than good. I’m not going to go into the specifics as to why that logic is flawed – Google can easily tell you that.
But, while eating as our ancestors did is a good guideline to follow, I think it can divert focus away from our ultimate goal which is eating for HEALTH.
The Big Question
One question that we get often is regarding butter.
Is butter technically Paleo? It is a dairy product, so no it’s not.
Did cavemen eat butter? Nope, they sure didn’t.
Regardless of this, though, we consider that there is room for butter on the Paleo diet. This is exciting, I know!
Quick caveat – when we say there’s room for butter, that doesn’t mean that it’s right for everyone. Some people can’t tolerate any dairy, and if that’s you, it’s better to leave the butter out for the sake of your health.
Not All Butter is Created Equal
When we’re talking about butter – we mean REAL, FULL-FAT butter that comes from healthy, happy cows. Margarine or any sort of butter replacement is not Paleo in any sense of the word.
Before you run out and grab some Country Crock, let me clarify – not all butter is created equal. When referring to butter, we mean grass-fed butter. Butter that comes from cows that have been humanely raised – eating grass and roaming around a pasture like cows are meant to do.
This part is a vital piece of the puzzle…healthy cows produce health-promoting butter. Unhealthy cows do not. Also, never forget you vote with your dollar. Support farmers that treat their cows humanely, and seek out only grass-fed or pastured butter.
Health Benefits of Grass-Fed Butter
Like I said earlier, our main goal with the Paleo diet is to improve our health – not to put a label on how we eat OR police the way other people eat.
That’s why we consider grass-fed butter a satisfactory addition to a Paleo diet. Butter has many beneficial components. One of them being short and medium-chain fatty acids. These types of fatty acids are easily digested by the body and used as energy quickly. You may have seen many Paleo followers touting the benefits of butter (or Bulletproof) coffee. The short and medium-chain fatty acids
Grass-fed butter also contains conjugated linoleic acid. Studies have shown that this component has cancer preventing properties. It’s also rich in the fat-soluble vitamins A, K-2, and D.
Thanks to the low-fat craze a few decades ago, many people might be afraid of the saturated fat content of butter. Saturated fat is not a demon nutrient like was once thought. Read our saturated fat myths post if you want to learn more about that.
That being said, this is not an order to go out and eat six sticks of butter a day. You don’t even have to eat butter every day. But, if you’d prefer, butter can play a role in a well-balanced Paleo diet.
Where To Find Good Butter
If you can, it’s best to buy directly from your local dairy farmer. They may not sell butter, but only the cow’s milk. If you’re up for a challenge, you could make your own! Check out Food Renegade’s post to learn how to do this.
Your local farmer’s market might also be a place to find grass-fed butter. This site helps you find farmer’s markets in your area.
Depending on what grocery stores you have in your area, you may just be in luck too! Stores like Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, Aldi’s, and health food stores usually have grass-fed butter. If you can’t find a local brand, nationwide brands such as Kerrygold and Organic Valley will definitely do the trick.
What Not To Eat
Many people think that because butter is a dairy product, that it is better to eat fake butters instead. You know – the “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter” and “Earth Balance” and other lab-created “butters” of the world.
Don’t do this.
Butter-like products normally contain hydrogenated oils, or trans fats, to replace the natural saturated fats that are taken out of the butter. Trans fats have recently been linked to an increased risk of heart disease.
In short, if your body can tolerate it, grass-fed butter can be consumed (in moderation, of course) on the Paleo diet.
Hopefully this has helped quell your fears about real butter. What are your thoughts? Do you incorporate butter in your Paleo lifestyle? I’d love to hear some opinions!
Belury, Martha Ann. “Conjugated Dienoic Linoleate: A Polyunsaturated Fatty Acid With Unique Chemoprotective Properties”. Nutrition Reviews 53.4 (2009): 83-89. Web. 15 Mar. 2017.
Iqbal, Mohammad Perwaiz. “Trans Fatty Acids – A Risk Factor For Cardiovascular Disease”. Pakistan Journal of Medical Sciences 30.1 (1969): n. pag. Web. 15 Mar. 2017.
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