Butyric Acid, One Reason Real Butter is a Healthy Food

butter-butyric-acid-benefits-health

Butter, that creamy condiment and delicious baking ingredient, may be one of the most beloved and well-known dairy products of all time. Made simply by churning milk or cream and removing the liquid (buttermilk), butter is an essential ingredient in any chef’s refrigerator and a must-have on countless dinner tables. It’s hard to find a downside to butter, unless you consider its possible impact on your health. Butter is renowned for its high saturated fat content, which is thought to contribute to high cholesterol levels and heart disease. But before you rashly resign yourself to a butter-free diet, you may want to consider a compound in butter, commonly known as butyric acid, which actually yields a number of healthy benefits for your body.

Real butter, not to be confused with high trans fat, commercial substitutes such as margarine, contains just a few ingredients: milk solids (proteins), butterfat and water. One element in these milk solids is the short fatty acid chain: butyric acid. Butyric acid is naturally produced in milk and butter, has a rancid smell and a bitter taste. That may not sound too appetizing, but butyric acid’s smell and flavor isn’t noticeable in fresh butter. And once ingested, this fatty acid can actually provide your body with a boost of health. Here are a few of the butter-fueled benefits of butyric acid:  

Butyric acid may promote better metabolic health: A study in which mice were fed butyric acid resulted in the mice exhibiting a lower rate of insulin resistance, a condition that can lead to type-2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome, and also accelerate the aging process. The mice also showed reduced adiposity (obesity) and more efficient metabolic function.

Butyric acid promotes colon health: Butyric acid fuels colonocytes (colon cells), thereby providing vital energy for your colon. Butyrate also facilitates the absorption of electrolytes, which are vital chemical compounds that help keep you hydrated and maintain proper body function.

Butyric acid may be an anti-carcinogen: Some studies suggest that butyric acid may produce anti-carcinogenic affects. Anti-carcinogens refer to elements that help protect against and reduce the severity of cancers.

Butyric acid is an anti-inflammatory: Butyric acid’s anti-inflammatory properties help prevent inflammation of the colon. Colon inflammation can lead to IBD (inflammatory bowel disease) and other serious health problems.

Butyric acid is anti-microbial: Short chain fatty acids, such as butyric acid, have been shown to produce anti-microbial effects and help reduce the growth of oral bacteria.

If you thought butter should be eliminated from your diet, the good news is that this good-tasting food delivers some health-boosting benefits, due in large part to its butyric acid content. So top off your favorite dish with a pad of butter, and enjoy some smooth, creamy flavor with a side of good health.

References: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2699871/http://jmm.sgmjournals.org/content/59/2/141.fullhttp://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9361838http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23140283http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21333271

Originally posted 2013-10-24 10:14:14.

Fiber into fat? How the Digestive System Creates Butyric Acid

butyric acid fiber fermentation

Are all fats, like butyric acid, created equally?

If you want to stay healthy, you should eat a diet high in fiber and low in fat. At least that’s what most doctors and nutrition experts say. And they’re right (to a point). Foods high in fiber are good for your body for a number of reasons, and bad fats (like trans fats and those from refined seed oils) should be kept in moderation. But did you know that, in your digestive system, the fiber you eat can actually become a healthy fat called butyric acid?  Yes, this actually happens and for good reason. Let’s explore how your body takes one good-for-you element and transforms it into another element that’s equally as good.

You’re probably aware that digestion is basically the process of the body breaking food down into usable parts and transporting it to the cells: Once food enters your stomach, stomach acid starts to break it down before it moves into the small intestine. Then, enzymes from your liver and pancreas help break down the food into even smaller particles. The nutrients in these particles ultimately enter your bloodstream to be used by they body’s cells. The leftovers, or unusable portions of the food particles, move on to the large intestine and ultimately become waste.  That’s digestion in a nutshell, but there are other important nuisances of digestion that are still being discovered.

Digestion is also about transformation, taking what’s not usable and making it something healthy. In comes fiber and butyric acid.  Fiber is any food that isn’t digestible, foods particles that can’t be broken down or transferred to the bloodstream for use by the cells. The digestive system has two options, it can eliminate these fibers from the body or ferment them. A vast population of microscopic organisms, commonly referred to as “gut bacteria”, reside in the large intestine. These bacteria perform a variety of important jobs that keep us healthy, and one of them involves taking that indigestible fiber and turning it into fat. Gut bacteria is capable of transforming many plant-based fibers, via a process called bacterial fermentation, into butyric acid. Butyric acid, named after butyrum (the Latin word for butter), is a type of short-chain fatty acid that was actually first discovered in rancid butter.

The thought of having “rancid” fat in your gut may leave you a bit unsettled, but butyric acid actually provides your body with several benefits. Butyric acid helps nourish the cells of your colon, thereby helping to keep your colon tissue healthy. It also has anti-inflammatory properties, and supplies antimicrobial substances that strengthen the mucosal barrier, a lining that keeps potentially harmful substances from passing into your gastrointestinal track. All this helps protect you against the onset of symptoms associated with ailments such as IBS (irritable bowel syndrome).

So yes, your body can turn fiber into fat. The good news is that this fat takes the form of butyric acid, a substance that can help keep you healthy. So keep eating the recommended amount of dietary fiber. Your colon will thank you for it!

References: http://www.ebi.ac.uk/chebi/searchId.do?chebiId=CHEBI:30772http://jmm.sgmjournals.org/content/59/2/141.full

Originally posted 2013-10-07 16:31:20.

DIY Ghee (clarified butter) Recipe

Ghee is simultaneously one of the healthiest and tastiest cooking oils.  It’s also a very practical cooking oil because it can withstand high heat without breaking down or smoking.  Ghee made from organic butter contains high amounts of vitamin k2, which is essential for bone strength and cardiovascular health.  It’s also a great source of healthy fats, including CLA, which may provide antioxidant, metabolic, and cardiovascular benefits.  Even more, ghee is far more shelf stable than butter, making it great for traveling or leaving out for easy spreadability.

DIY ghee is easy and fun.  Homemade ghee is also cost saving.  By following the recipe below you’ll save half the amount you would spend on store-bought ghee. Enjoy!

butter
Be sure to use organic, unsalted butter, in order to achieve ghee with the most amount of nutrients like vitamin K2, and CLA
cheesecloth
Cheese cloths are inexpensive and handy. Use 3 or 4 pieces layered together to achieve the best filtering.
buttermelting
Melt the butter on the stove on medium heat.
Ghee-stage-1
Stage 1 – What the butter will look like immediately after it melts
ghee-stage-2
Stage 2 – After the butter simmers for a while it will start to form large bubbles as the water boils out.
ghee-stage-3
Stage 3 – After the bubbles get smaller and become less frequent, a golden foam will form and brown butter solids will sink to the bottom. It’s now ready to pour through the cheesecloth!

Originally posted 2013-07-03 19:36:49.

Food frying revisited

food-frying-in-butterFrench fries, donuts, onion rings, and deep-fried twinkies – in the minds of the health conscious these words set off a mental alert system, signaling for self-control against the enemies of health. Ok, maybe most people aren’t tempted by deep-fried twinkies, but what is it that makes these foods so tasty, yet so atrociously unhealthy? Sugars, processed ingredients, and being fried in oil?

If you follow CREUS, you already know that eating too many sugars and other carbohydrates is disastrous for health, but you may be surprised to learn that fried foods aren’t necessarily unhealthy. I think the stigma against fried foods picked up after researchers discovered that a number of industrially produced potato chips and fast food items contained free fatty acids and toxic chemicals that occur as a result of over frying. But did you notice, I said over frying.

Vegetables oils are stable at fairly high heating temperatures; however, every oil has its own max temperature. When an oil reaches its max temp it starts to smoke and break down. That temperature is called the smoke point, and it’s different for every oil. After an oil reaches its smoke point, it breaks down into free fatty acids and a number of carinogenic compounds, including polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons which are harmful when ingested or inhaled.[1] Yet, if used within a stable range, cooking oil remains a source of healthy nutrients (depending on the type of oil).Thus the problems with frying food aren’t inherent in the frying itself. There are number of other factors that can cause frying to be an unhealthy practice. Problems start to occur when food is fried in oil at a temperature beyond the smoke point. Some people and restaurants are also in the habit of reusing oil; however, when reused, oil’s smoking point is lowered and carcinogenic compounds start to form. Another problem, of course, is what’s being fried. If you’re frying carbohydrates, you already started down an unhealthy path (unless you did a particularly hard workout and need those extra carbs).

The final trouble with frying revolves around the type of oils used.Not all oils are created equal. When choosing an oil, the ones most readily available in God’s creation, the ones that require minimal processing, turn out to be the healthiest. The top three are butter, olive oil, and coconut oil. The reason being is that most other vegetables oils contain a ratio of polyunsaturated fatty acids that is disproportionately high in omega-6 fatty acids. Recent studies have found that cardiovascular disease and other health problems are attributed to having far too many omega-6s and not enough omega-3s.[2] By contrast, the three cooking oils I mention above primarily consist of saturated fat (butter and coconut oil) or monounsaturated fat (olive oil) and therefore don’t negatively affect the the Omega-3 to Omega 6 ratio. The approximate smoke point for the recommended cooking oils are:

Whole Butter: 300 F
Extra Virgin olive oil: 300 F
Virgin coconut oil: 350 F

Smoke points are always estimates because they depend on the particular oil’s characteristics (which vary between batches) and the methods of oil refinement. Generally, the more whole the oil is, the lower its smoke point will be. In conclusion, if you want to fry something in oil – meats, vegetables, or eggs – it’s OK to do so. The important thing is to chose a healthy oil, keep the oil below its smoke point, and only use your oil once. Here’s to all my friends in the South!

[1] PubMed
[2] PubMed