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.full; http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9361838; http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23140283; http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21333271
Originally posted 2013-10-24 10:14:14.