ISLAMABAD: Butter is not bad for us and does not raise the risk of heart disease, a major study has found.
Scientists discovered eating one tablespoon of butter a day had little impact on overall mortality, no significant link with cardiovascular disease and strokes – and could even have a small effect in reducing the risk of diabetes.
The robust research - one of the largest meta-studies to be carried out on the health effects of butter - adds weight to growing calls for the end of the 'demonising' of the dairy product and other saturated fats.
It follows reports earlier this month that the Government is reconsidering its advice to restrict saturated fat intake to limit the risk of heart disease, after two recent studies found no link.
Eating one tablespoon of butter a day could even have a small effect in reducing the risk of diabetes
In the latest research, scientists from Tufts University in Boston analysed the results of nine studies published since 2005 from 15 countries, including the US, UK and Europe.
Results were based on nearly 640,000 adults with an average age of between 44 and 71 years old, tracked over a combined total of 6.5 million years.
In total, they studies included more than 28,000 deaths, nearly 10,000 cases of cardiovascular diseases and nearly 24,000 cases of diabetes.
By combining and standardising the results, researchers found a daily serving of butter – 14g or roughly one tablespoon – was associated with a 1 per cent higher risk of death.
Butter consumption had 'no significant association' with any type of cardiovascular disease, including coronary heart disease and stroke.
A smaller sample of results indicated a daily serving of butter was associated with a 4 per cent lower risk of type 2 diabetes - although researchers said this needed further investigation.
The paper said: 'Together, these findings suggest relatively small or neutral associations of butter consumption with long-term health… A major focus on eating more or less butter, by itself, may not be linked to large differences in mortality, cardiovascular disease or diabetes.
'In sum, our findings do not support a need for major emphasis in dietary guidelines on butter consumption, in comparison to other better established dietary priorities.'
Butter consumption had 'no significant association' with any type of cardiovascular disease, including coronary heart disease and stroke'
Senior author Dr Dariush Mozaffarian added: 'Our results suggest that butter should neither be demonized nor considered 'back' as a route to good health.'
Study researcher Dr Laura Pimpin, now at the UK Health Forum, said: 'Even though people who eat more butter generally have worse diets and lifestyles, it seemed to be pretty neutral overall.
'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.'