The food police in Britain and America said, in the 1970s, that butter was bad for human health. Food experts said that studies showed that butter contained large amounts of cholesterol and advised that the new low fat, soft margarines were far better for a healthy diet. We know now that most of them contained hydrogenated fats that is are basically fats whipped up with water. Americans are getting hysterical about trans fats, and have banned them in the States. Trans fats are contained within hydrogenated fats. However, the latest studies have shown that hydrogenated fats in their entirety are bad for human health; the body does not recognise these unnatural substances and cannot process them but lays them down as body fat unprocessed in the body. One wonders whether this is one of the myriad of reasons for the obesity epidemic in both Britain and America.
Yet, the danger is that the general public still believe the scare stories that were circulated in the seventies and are gaily eating these margarines, and forswearing butter, thinking that they are doing the healthiest thing. Something that has a chemical formula a few points from plastic and was formulated in a laboratory cannot possibly be better than a natural product made from milk.
The latest recommendation of the food “experts” is the Mediterranean diet. Olive oil, tomatoes, plenty of vegetables, some meat and fish. Indeed the French diet has always confounded the food police, butter, cream, wine, cheese and rich pates and sauces. They cannot explain how French people do not have hugely high levels of cholesterol. The French cook with large amounts of butter, although they rarely have butter on bread but you will find butter on your vegetables, in most of the delicious sauces and large amounts go into the pates of which they are justly proud. According to the “experts” The French should all be the size of houses and yet they are not. In the South West of France most of the people are slim even wiry and one only has to look in the clothes shops to realise that there are virtually none that cater for even, what would be in Britain or USA medium sizes (English dress size 14 or US 12).
Eggs were decreed to be bad for health at about the same time that butter was added to the “do not eat” list. Trouble is someone misread the data and misplaced a decimal point. It has also been discovered since that there are two types of cholesterol and that the one that eggs contain is the good one that we need to maintain our health besides all the other vitamins and minerals which are in eggs. The scientists scared a whole generation out of eating eggs and also they have been very wrong about so many other things. Scare stories come out every week, over three weeks recently one study said that a moderate consumption of wine was excellent for health, the next week, all alcohol including wine was implicated in Alzheimer’s disease, dementia and strokes and the next week a study showing that one glass of wine per day was beneficial in keeping Alzheimer and dementia at bay. Which are ordinary people supposed to believe? Is there is another way?
Perhaps we should ignore all food experts entirely and go back to the old fashioned advice that our Grandmothers lived by, “eat a little of everything and all things in moderation”. A little butter goes a long way. Butter gives flavour in cooking and in a sauce is the right medium for any thickening agent (flour, cornflour etc) to perform the chemical reaction which gives a beautiful smooth and tasty sauce, soup, gravy or stew. There is nothing like a slice of fresh crusty bread with real butter but you do not have to put half a pound on it neither do you need to eat the whole loaf. Diet anyway is only ever part of the equation, the other part is exercise so have a little butter, enjoy it, and go for a walk.