How to Choose The Most Nutritious Butter
1. Organic – First and foremost, look for organic butter. This will ensure there are no growth hormones, antibiotics, harmful pesticides and GMOs being fed to the cows. Growth hormone or rbGH that is used to raise cows conventionally is linked to cancer and often accumulates in highest concentration in animal fat. One organic brand I’m suspicious of however, is Horizon, they are owned by Dean Foods (the same company that owns Land O’Lakes). The Cornucopia Institute has filed complaints for labeling their product organic while maintaining factory farm production methods. I won’t buy Horizon organic for that reason.
2. Grass-fed – Grass-fed or pastured raised cows are going to be more nutritious than cows raised with grains. Remember, the highest amounts of the most beneficial CLA and Omega 3 fatty acids naturally come from grass-fed cows. Also grass-fed cows produce butter with 50 percent more vitamin A and E and 400 percent more beta carotene (which gives the grass-fed butter a deeper yellow color).
3. Ghee – Ghee is clarified butter where all the proteins, milk solids and lactose is removed. This makes the butter more digestible, concentrated with nutrients and really great for immunity building. Ghee does not need to be refrigerated, it can stay on the counter for a few months without going bad. People with dairy allergies or sensitives often do ok consuming this type of butter. Pure Indian Foods, Purity Farms and Ancient Organics have the best offerings in that they are both high quality, organic and grass-fed.
4. In an ideal world, you would be able to find butter that is both organic, grass-fed and no additives like Organic Valley (in the green foil wrapper) , but sometimes that’s just not the case. In that circumstance, I would go for either an organic butter or grass-fed butter like Kerrygold (please note – Kerrygold uses some grains that could be GMOs a couple of months out of the year because grass doesn’t grow year round in Ireland – they admit that 3% of their feed could contain GMOs). Choosing regular organic butter will lessen your exposure to pesticides but will also provide less nutrition since the cows will mostly be fed organic grains vs. grass. Regardless, these choices are superior choices over conventional butter and both options (in light green on the chart above) will lessen your exposure to GMOs.
5. Beware of butter mixes with labels like “with olive oil” – 9 times out of 10, these butters will have one or more GMO ingredients like soybean, corn or canola oil. These mixes may have questionable additives in them too – check the ingredient list just to be sure!
6. Don’t Eat Butter? Here are some Vegan Substitutes – If you are vegan, skip all the “butter like” or fake butter spreads like Smart Balance that contain GMO oils, artificial ingredients made from petroleum and unnecessary preservatives. Instead, choose 100% coconut oil, olive oil, red palm oil (that is sustainably harvested from Ecuador and does not hurt the rainforest) or hemp oil instead. Also coconut manna, or butter works well too, when slightly heated it spreads just like butter. (These are also much healthier than organic spreads like Earth Balance that are usually a combo of inflammation causing oils).
Sharing the truth is the first step in changing the food system. If you know someone who is buying Monsanto butter, please share this information with them. Our choices can really change the marketplace, make us healthier and change companies decisions to use these unhealthy ingredients.