Study Finds Little Connection Between Butter and Chronic Disease

Eating butter seemed not to heighten risk of heart disease or diabetes.

The French may have been right all along, according to a new study from the Tufts Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy.

The research, published Wednesday in PLOS ONE, says there’s likely not a strong connection between butter and heart disease, diabetes, or mortality—despite what your mother has been telling you all these years.

Tufts researchers performed a meta-analysis of nine different studies, which cumulatively examined more than 636,000 subjects, to look for associations between butter consumption and disease. The study participants, on average, ate between one-third and 3.2 servings of butter per day. In news that may surprise fat-phobes, each daily serving of butter seemed to have little impact, if any, on a person’s likelihood of developing chronic disease.

While butter may not be the health scourge you thought it was, researcher Laura Pimpin said in a statement that cooking with olive, soybean, flaxseed, or canola oil is still probably a healthier choice than sautéing anything and everything in butter. She also pointed out that people who eat lots of butter tend to have poorer diets overall.

“Our results suggest that butter should neither be demonized nor considered ‘back’ as a route to good health,” adds Friedman School Dean Dariush Mozaffarian. “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 takeaway? A pat of butter on your corn on the cob probably isn’t going to kill you—but it’s not exactly good for you, either.