BUTTER has got the health all-clear at last. There’s some things we just know are bad for us: smoking, drinking too much, breathing in traffic fumes. But eating butter? Is that rich creamy delight really a killer? The medical profession has been telling us for 30 years to avoid butter and full fat milk because it could lead to heart attacks – and millions of us took the warning to heart (no pun intended).
Now it seems the doctors and public health scientists got it wrong. The evidence on which they based their advice about butter was flawed.
So flawed, in fact, that in a new review of the evidence researchers say it is “incomprehensible” that the dairy danger warning was ever given in the first place.
Possibly the worst things doctors did was to advise us to increase the amount of carbohydrates we consumed to replace the energy we would have got from milk and cheese.
The effect has been to drive people away from butter and towards so-called “low fat” alternatives, such as processed spreads and sugar-packed yoghurts, and to greatly increase consumption of unnecessary carbs. People think they’re eating healthily but they’re not.
Is it any wonder that over the past 30 years we have witnessed the rapid growth of an obesity epidemic?
I well remember the butter and dairy scare in the 1980s because it influenced me to go on the Rosemary Conley low fat diet, and I had to force myself to eat no more than nine grams of fat a day. Did it make me any healthier? I very much doubt it now.
What keeps people in good shape is regular exercise, fresh air, tons of fruit and veg and even the occasional glass of wine (remember when that was good for us, then bad for us, then good for us again?).
If you want to know what’s healthy then stick to real food that is fresh and unprocessed – so if it swam in the sea, walked in a field or was grown in the ground then it’s going to be good for you.
The latest research has studied the cases of 2,400 men who suffered heart attacks to see if there was a link between dietary fat, cholesterol and coronary heart disease. Their work finds no difference in heart deaths regardless of whether people were on a high fat or a lower fat diet.
The study in the UK has been led by Zoe Harcombe, of the Institute of Clinical Excellence and Health Science. She points out many flaws in the trials on which the dairy warning was given, not least that no women were included in them, and says the warning was aimed at the wrong target.
“Surely the logical culprit to suspect would be carbohydrates generally and refined carbohydrates and modern processed foods specifically,” she says. “We had no heart disease for 3.5 million years and no processed food. Then we had both. Do we suspect the beef or the beef flavoured crisps?!”
There’s been so much conflicting “evidence” over the years that’s it’s almost impossible for many people to know what’s healthy and what isn’t, so I welcome the outstanding job Zoe, her team and their counterparts in America have done to help put the record straight about butter.
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