You thought you were doing the right thing all of these years. You’ve been saying “no” to butter and watching in horror (and envy) as your co-workers slather their corn muffins with the delectable saturated fat — all the while attempting to convince yourself that hummus or worse, Vegemite, is a superior spread substitute.
You’ve been led to believe even a pat of butter a week will lead to heart disease, diabetes, the Bubonic plague and the burning in hell for all eternity. You’re not at fault for thinking butter is the culinary Lucifer.
But it’s all been a lie. Lies!
A new study published in PLOS ONE is proving, once and for all, that there is zero link between butter and diseases like cardiovascular disease. And get ready to clutch your pearls and popcorn with extra butter, because it gets better: After analyzing the health data of 636,151 people in 15 countries, the study found butter can actually help decrease one’s risk of getting diabetes.
A person who enjoyed one tablespoon of butter each day — and let there be no question that only pure enjoyment has been experienced by this maverick — has a 4 percent lower risk of diabetes than the rest of us health-conscious fools.
As with most studies, there’s far more to the findings than: Butter is a delicious miracle, all hail butter, let’s eat more butter and live longer. In fact, for each of those tablespoons of butter eaten every day, researchers found a one percent increase in all-cause mortality (as in, death from anything that can possibly kill you). Now, it isn’t clear whether the butter itself is to blame — the theory going is that people who eat butter on a regular basis are probably also ignoring all of the other annoying health warnings about not eating aforementioned muffins, pancakes, fried steak and pecan sticky buns.
Overall, the study calls the association between butter and mortality, cardiovascular disease and diabetes “small or neutral.” Instead of thinking of butter as the horrible ex your therapist told you to stop stalking on Facebook for the sake of your mental health, it’s more like that guy who always fell asleep in your Western Civilization class and whose name no one could remember. Butter is kind of just there — there are far better choices and there are worse choices, like margarine in stick form. Margarine in stick form is the devil incarnate.
This important health reminder from the study pretty much sums up what we’ve learned: “These results suggest that health effects of butter should be considered against the alternative choice. For instance, butter may be a more healthful choice than the white bread or potato on which it is commonly spread. In contrast, margarines, spreads, and cooking oils rich in healthful oils, such as soybean, canola, flaxseed, and extra-virgin olive oil, appear to be healthier choices than either butter or refined grains, starches, and sugars.”
We should still opt for olive oil or ghee over butter — but from now on, when someone you’re dining with recoils in fear when you add a sliver of butter to your roll, you can be like, “It’s cool, it’s just butter. PLOS ONE told me so.”
This article originally appeared in SheKnows and is used by permission. Lisa Fogarty has written numerous articles for USA Today, The Stir, Opposing Views and other publications. She lives in Long Island, New York, with her husband and two children.