Admit it: nothing's ever stopped you from treating yourself to the delicious spreadable joy known as butter. But if you've ever felt maybe just a little guilty about your crippling butter addiction, well, you probably don't have to anymore -- thanks to an exciting new study that suggests butter isn't that bad for you after all.
In an analysis of multiple previous studies that include more than 630,000 people, researchers at Tufts University found no link between eating butter and heart disease and determined that it's more of a "middle-of-the-road" food than the health risk it's made out to be by low-fat diets, according to a report by TIME. On top of that, the study suggests eating butter might actually be protective against Type 2 diabetes. Mmm. Butter.
The findings fly in the face of health guidelines that have long warned you of the supposed dangers of eating foods high in saturated fat and all the side-eye you've gotten over the years when you've reached for the butter dish. You've finally been vindicated. Well, mostly. While the researchers note that butter isn't as harmful as you've been led to believe, it certainly isn't a health food or even your best choice sometimes; especially, if you spread it on unhealthy foods like white bread.
"Even though people who eat more butter generally have worse diets and lifestyles, it seemed to be pretty neutral overall," Laura Pimpin, Ph.D., former postdoctoral fellow at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts, said in a press release. "This suggests that butter may be a 'middle-of-the-road' food: a more healthful choice than sugar or starch, such as the white bread or potato on which butter is commonly spread and which have been linked to higher risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease; and a worse choice than many margarines and cooking oils -- those rich in healthy fats such as soybean, canola, flaxseed, and extra virgin olive oils -- which would likely lower risk compared with either butter or refined grains, starches, and sugars."
Ultimately, the researchers offer butter lovers an exciting, but cautious, conclusion (emphasis added):
"Overall, our results suggest that butter should neither be demonized nor considered 'back' as a route to good health," Dariush Mozaffarian, M.D., Dr.P.H., and senior author of the study, said. "More research is needed to better understand the observed potential lower risk of diabetes, which has also been suggested in some other studies of dairy fat. This could be real, or due to other factors linked to eating butter -- our study does not prove cause-and-effect."
The bottom line: don't go wild spreading butter on everything, but don't feel bad about eating it when you do.