Science Has Spoken: Grass-fed Butter Eaters Have Fewer Heart Attacks

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Science Has Spoken - Grass-fed Butter Eaters Have Fewer Heart AttacksImage © Eat Local Grown

During the “margarine era”, butter developed a bad reputation when it comes to healthy diet and heart health. Because butter is made up of fat (or rather, is fat itself), people tend to avoid including it in their daily diet completely. Despite this, butter can actually contribute a lot of health benefits to the human body – especially butter from grass-fed cows. How does the diet of a cow affect the butter made from its milk? And how can that affect the health of the cardiovascular system in humans?

When talking about healthy butter, it comes down to two substances: CLA, which stands for conjugated linoleic acid, and omega-3 fatty acids. When cows are fed grass instead of grain and other substances, their milk (and therefore the butter from their milk) contains higher levels of CLA and omega-threes. [1] According to research, omega-3 fatty acids are cardioprotective – meaning they help improve heart health and prevent hyperlipidemia or high levels of cholesterol in the blood. [2] On the other hand, CLAs have been proven by another study to offset the supposedly negative effects of saturated fat in dairy products. In fact, cows with grass-fed diets produced milk that had five times more CLA than normal milk. [3]

Saturated Fat Myth

More and more studies are debating the long-standing concept that saturated fat is bad for your health. A recent study published in 2014 included 32 observational studies on fatty acids in their research and concluded that there was no hard evidence that supported the idea that high intake of polyunsaturated fat and low intake of saturated fat contributed to better cardiovascular health. [4] These results are similar to a 2010 study whose results also concluded that there was no significant association between a diet high in saturated fat and cardiac health. [5] These studies suggest that the bad rep of saturated fat is simply bad rep with no substance to back it up.

Location, Location, Location

Two studies published in 2009 and 2010 added more information on the health benefits of dairy products from grass-fed cows because of one important factor: location. The two studies on cardiovascular health were conducted in two places – (1) Sweden and (2) Australia, both locations are where most cows have grass-fed diets, as opposed to diets high in grain. The results of the studies revealed that (1) dairy intake could be inversely related to risk for cardiovascular and cerebrovascular events and (2) dairy intake had no direct association with mortality. [6][7] Because these places are mostly made up of grassland, their dairy products tend to be on the healthier side.

If the butter is made from milk from grass-fed cows, it will say so on the label (usually in the front or in the description!) So pay close attention! Your heart will thank you.

Here’s a further report on the health benefits of grass-fed butter:


[1] Dhiman, T., et. al. (1999). Conjugated linoleic acid content of milk from cows fed different diets. http://

[2] Hebeisen, D., et. al. (1993). Increased concentrations of omega-3 fatty acids in milk and platelet rich plasma of grass-fed cows.

[3] Smit, L., Baylin, A. & Campos, H. (2010). Conjugated linoleic acid in adipose tissue and risk of myocardial infarction.

[4] Chowduhry, R., et. al. (2014). Association of Dietary, Circulating, and Supplement Fatty Acids With Coronary Risk: A Systematic Review and Meta-anaylsis.

[5] Siri-Tarino, P., et. al. (2010). Meta-anaylsis of prospective cohort studies evaluating the association of saturated fat with cardiovascular disease.

[6] Bonthuis, M., et. al. (2010). Dairy consumption and patterns of mortality of Australian adults.

[7] Warensjo, E., et. al. (2009). Stroke and plasma markets of milk-fat intake – a prospective nested case-control study.

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