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Hold the Butter

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I’m not one to eat a lot of bread…but when I do, I want it to be good.  I’m most tempted when we go out to eat for dinner on the weekend.  I am most happy when the bread is multi-grain, fresh made and warm when it gets to the table.  And thanks to a few trips to Italy, I am doubly happy when there is olive oil on the table to accompany my warm, fresh bread.

In a society where we understand so much about health, it amazes me that so many restaurants still serve white bread as the default, and butter, an unhealthy saturated fat, as its faithful companion.  There is no reason, however, that we have to accept this as the standard.  Personally, when I sit down for dinner and the bread and butter soon follow, I ask the waiter or waitress if they might bring olive oil.  Granted, I can’t ask for them to bake a loaf of whole grain bread for me, but most restaurants have olive oil on premises and can provide it when requested.

Nutritionally, the case for olive oil is a no brainer.  Olive oil is a monounsaturated fat, while butter is a saturated fat.  Olive oil:

  • Helps lower cholesterol, essentially lowering risk of heart disease
  • Protects against wrinkles and reduces oxidative damage
  • Helps in absorption of fat-soluble antioxidant nutrients, such as vitamin E and lycopene found in many antioxidant-rich vegetables

Butter on the other hand, raises LDL, the bad type of cholesterol and therefore increase your risk of heart disease.

Interestingly enough, in a study done by the International Journal of Obesity, it was found that when people are given olive oil in a restaurant, they consumed more olive oil on each piece of bread than those given butter, HOWEVER, they ended up consuming less bread in total.  Additionally, they consumed a higher percentage of their calories in fat but had a lower level of total caloric intake, supporting the theory that low-fat isn’t always better.

So next time you are in a restaurant and the butter comes your way, ask for the olive oil…or even better…eat it without a condiment…the healthiest of options.  Any tricks you have to share?
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Posted in Brett's Blog, Nutrition Tagged with: , , , , , ,
  • http://www.myspace.com/emmixcore Emmi

    When salad and breadsticks come to the table, I eat my salad (usually served with the italian or cesar dressing)and then afterwards I rip my bread and use it to soak up some of the left behind dressing! It’s delish.

  • Becky

    I work in a small grocery store. A customer of our sent out a sample of the olive oil we sold to her to be tested. The testing facility found that the sample contained 5% olive oil and 95% vegetable oil. This oil was marked on the sealed container Product of Italy 100% pure extra virgin olive oil. So all I’m saying is, use what tastes good to you since we have no way of knowing what is really in it….I like butter so that’s what I use, at least I know that it’s actually butter.

  • Jolene

    Brett, do you actually know what butter is? Pure butter made from organic, whole milk is one of the healthiest foods you can eat. Are you not referring to margarine? Now, that is a food unfit for consumption by anyone or anything. Do some research on a truly organic health site on the benefits of pure butter and then come back and write a “real article” that will do someone some good. Granted, olive oil is good for you too, if you can prove to yourself that it is pure olive oil, but why run down butter just because someone has told you it is not good for you. Be informed on a subject before you start telling people not to eat.

    • Brett

      Jolene…Granted, butter is a much better than margarine…but when it comes to eating foods that are healthy…olive oil is a much healthier option than butter. Butter is high in saturated fat which has been known to lead to heart disease and other health issues. Organic foods aren’t always healthy for you…just because they don’t use pesticides doesn’t make them healthy. The organic market has overtaken everything from Pop Tarts (not healthy) to milk. Hope that clarifies.

  • roisin

    i mean i agree with Becky 100%….(i used a phase I don’t think I understand…lol)

  • http://sheerbalance.com Walter

    My name is Walter, and these comments are typical of today’s society. It is a sad situation that most people do not know what is good for them, rendering them prey for the unconscionable capitalist. MARGARINE IS INEDIBLE. MARGARINE IS A SOFT SPREADABLE PLASTIC. BUTTER IS A GOOD FAT. BEEF TALLOW IS NOT. PORK TALLOW IS BETTER, BUT STILL NOT GOOD. PURE OLIVE OIL IS GOOD FOR YOU, GOOD LUCK GETTING IT. VINEGAR IS GOOD FOR YOU. OFTEN THE NETWORKS ON THE COMPUTER ARE LOADED WITH MESSAGES FROM IDIOTS, OR GENIUSES THAT CAN’T SPELL OR USE PROPER GRAMMAR OR SYNTAX. TECHNOLOGY WITH OPERATORS THAT KNOW “NUTHING”!

  • Herbert

    Butter is Butter and there is nothing better then Butter. You can have your non Butter stuff. I do not remember one friend of mine dying of Butter but plenty of the so called dietary supplements. Mother Nature gives us the best and that is Butter.

  • Jolene

    Brett, I would still like for you to do some research on butter to prove to yourself and others that butter does not cause a heart attack. I lived on a farm and we had whole milk and butter all our lives and our family members have all made it to a good old age without dieing of a heart attack from eating “nasty saturated fat from butter”. I can just about win the bet on this one, it is all the prepared, packaged and man-made food with all the chemicals, preservatives, pestasides, high fructose corn syrup and other stuff they say will not harm you that you eat right along with the “food” they say is good for you that causes the heart disease and related illnesses. I love olive oil and I eat it right along with the butter and the coconut oil (which, by the way is a medium chain fatty acid) and I am 67 and in excellent health with no heart disease what so ever. Go back in your research when heart disease and other major illnesses were not so prevelant and you will understand what I am talking about. It got worse when we started eating like the so called experts told us to and we quit eating like we were and started consuming the man-mades and other stuff listed above. And when the no-fat craze hit it was downhill from there but don’t get me started on that subject. As for me, and a lot of other old timers I know, I will continue to eat and enjoy butter with no fear of it causing us to die with a heart attack. Thanks for listening and I hope this clarifies it for you also.

  • Annie

    I love both butter and olive oil..while butter has been at the receiving end for most times,I must say- the key is in moderation.Like Jolene , I too know many a member in my family who have had butter most of their lives and remained disease-free.It is when we combine a butter-rich diet with all fiber-low ,zero nutrition-tasty snacks and too many preserved foods that it starts taking a toll.Olive oil,while it tastes great and is of course, a good-fat option among all , in excess, it too can be damaging.

  • Earl

    I have to disagree with you about butter. My grandmother ate butter all of her life. She never drank milk from the store, if she could not get farm fresh milk she drank half and half. Eggs are also “BAD” for you, she had one to two dozen eggs a week. Her heart finally quit at the age of 100. Get rid of all the preservities in food and everyone would be healthier.

  • Cam

    I just came back from 12 days in England/Ireland/Wales. After having a few sodas made with REAL sugar, lots of real butter and sweets EVERY day (my major downfall) I lost 6 pounds. Granted we did do a lot of walking/shopping. What was the biggest difference? In the UK I did not find ANY HFCS, high-fructose corn syrup in ANYTHING. Labels did not read like chemical factories. People there are MUCH thinner. I decided then and there to ditch the HFCS…’moderation’ bupkiss! It is in EVERYTHING…please tell me why roast beef needs fake sugar in it??? I agree with Paula Deen…Pass me the BUTTER!!!!

  • Brett

    Jolene, it isn’t in my business to “prove” myself to people who disagree with me or who doubt my knowledge or research. But, given it is American Heart Month and that the comments people leave are just as influential as the articles, I’m providing you with a citation from the American Heart Association for your own reference:
    http://www.americanheart.org/presenter.jhtml?identifier=532

    1st Excerpt: Saturated fat
    Saturated fat is the main dietary cause of high blood cholesterol. Saturated fat is found mostly in foods from animals and some plants. Foods from animals include beef, beef fat, veal, lamb, pork, lard, poultry fat, butter, cream, milk, cheeses and other dairy products made from whole and 2 percent milk. All of these foods also contain dietary cholesterol. Foods from plants that contain saturated fat include coconut, coconut oil, palm oil and palm kernel oil (often called tropical oils), and cocoa butter.

    2nd Excerpt: Is butter better than margarine?
    Recent studies on the potential cholesterol-raising effects of TFA have raised public concern about the use of margarine and whether other options, including butter, might be a better choice. Some stick margarines contribute more TFA than unhydrogenated oils or other fats.

    Because butter is rich in both saturated fat and cholesterol, it’s potentially a highly atherogenic food (a food that causes the arteries to be blocked). Most margarine is made from vegetable fat and provides no dietary cholesterol. The more liquid the margarine, i.e., tub or liquid forms, the less hydrogenated it is and the less TFA it contains.

  • Bruce

    I blame the government for not banning high fructose corn syrup and partially hydrogenated soybean oil and any other partially hydrogenated product and a lot of the fake sugars. These are really bad for us and I agree, this is what is killing us. The argument about knowing someone who ate this or that all their lives and lived to a 100 really is weak. Who doesn’t know someone who has smoked their whole life and has no health issues. We all know smoking isn’t good for you. You have to look at the larger picture. Moderation, exercise, eating nutritious meals and not drinking sodas will go a long ways toward improving our health.