Butter contains saturated fats and trans fats, both of which can raise low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, or bad cholesterol. Most of the saturated fat in our diet comes from animal products, including red meat, eggs, and dairy products. All of these foods also contain cholesterol.
Many people believe that eating a lot of cholesterol directly increases the cholesterol level in their blood. However, there is little evidence of a link between dietary cholesterol and blood cholesterol levels. Here’s the link between butter and blood cholesterol levels, along with some butter substitutes and how to lower cholesterol.
How does butter affect cholesterol levels?
One tablespoon of unsalted butter contains 31 milligrams (mg) of cholesterol and 7.2 grams (g) of saturated fat.
For anyone wishing to lower their LDL cholesterol levels, it is best not to consume more than 5-6% of their total calorie intake as saturated fat. On a 2,000 calorie diet, that equates to 11-13g of saturated fat per day. Therefore, two tablespoons of butter provides more saturated fat than most people should consume daily.
Eating a lot of saturated fat can raise a person’s LDL cholesterol level. Since butter is high in saturated fat, people with high cholesterol should be careful about how much they eat each day. However, studies suggest that people should focus on maintaining a favorable ratio between LDL and high-density lipoprotein (HDL) levels. The authors say there may not be a strong link between a person’s saturated fat intake and their risk of heart disease or stroke.
Despite this, anyone with high cholesterol should watch their butter intake. And replace it with healthy fat alternatives such as avocados and olive oil.
Symptoms and Risks of High Cholesterolemia
High cholesterol does not always produce noticeable symptoms. This is why some people may need a blood test to check their serum cholesterol level. Monitoring blood cholesterol is essential because high levels can lead to a condition called atherosclerosis.
Atherosclerosis can cause the following problems:
– hardening of the arteries
– chest pain
– heart attack
– peripheral arterial disease
– kidney disease
How to lower cholesterol
Although many people seek medication after a diagnosis of high cholesterol, the following lifestyle changes may also help:
– eat plenty of healthy, heart-healthy foods, such as fibrous whole grains, healthy fats, and foods high in omega-3 fatty acids
– limit the consumption of partially hydrogenated oils, fried foods and foods containing trans fatty acids.
– eat lots of fruits and vegetables
– replace fatty meats with lean meats, such as turkey, chicken and fish
– include in your diet vegetable sources rich in fiber and protein, such as lentils and beans
– exercise for at least 30 minutes every day
– limit alcohol consumption
– stop smoking
– strive to maintain a healthy weight.
Butter and alternatives
Oils high in unsaturated fats but low in saturated and trans fats are heart-healthy butter substitutes. These include avocado, olive and sunflower oils.
Some people use margarine in place of butter, but there is conflicting evidence regarding this replacement. Margarine uses vegetable oil, so it often contains less saturated fat than butter, which contains animal fat. However, hard margarine can also contain saturated fat and trans fat, so it’s best to check nutrition labels.
If a person has high cholesterol, they can use spreads made with stanol or sterols, which can help lower cholesterol levels.
Reviewing the nutrition information on food packages can also help people make healthy choices. The goal is to limit the consumption of saturated and trans fats as much as possible.
Some people with high cholesterol may need medication, but doctors usually always recommend these additional dietary changes as a first step:
– cooking with healthy oils, such as olive, avocado or sunflower oil
– use yogurt instead of butter, cream or crème fraîche
So, butter or no butter? What you must remember
Recent research contradicts the original belief that cholesterol in the diet strongly influences blood cholesterol. However, it is essential to be careful with saturated fats and trans fats, as they can contribute to the increase in blood cholesterol. People with high cholesterol levels may have a higher risk of suffering from certain conditions and diseases such as atherosclerosis, strokes and heart attacks. Since butter is high in calories and fat, it should be eaten in moderation or replaced with healthy unsaturated fats. Eating a lot of butter can contribute to weight gain and may play a role in raising LDL cholesterol levels. You can continue to enjoy butter in moderation as part of a healthy diet, unless otherwise advised by your doctor.
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