3 Ways Grass-fed Butter is Superior to Grain-fed Butter
October 11, 2023
In our opinion, if you’re going to eat butter, you should eat the best quality butter you can get.
In the recent few years we started offering 100% Grassfed Dairy, including butter, in our farm and online stores. This article reviews some of the key reasons why we only consume butter from cows on a grass-fed diet.
First, we’d like to address the idea that butter is unhealthy.
Scientists have been going back and forth on whether or not saturated fat is bad for you for decades. But the consensus today (as reported by Harvard Public Health) is that people should focus on overall diet and food choices rather than singling out individual factors. Yes, butter has high fat content, but it’s also high in valuable nutrients, and the higher the quality of the cream, the healthier the butter.
Secondly, butter is a versatile kitchen staple, and despite decades of demonizing it, there’s just no replacing it in many recipes. You can’t make a good hollandaise sauce with olive oil, and biscuits made with butter are always tastier.
Originally published in 2015, this article was updated and republished on October 11th, 2023.
What Are Cows Fed to Make Regular Butter?
Conventional dairy cattle eat feeds mostly made up of grain and forage. Conventional dairy farmers buy tailor-made feeds with different ingredients in the hopes of making sure they provide enough calories and nutrients to their cows. Typical ingredients include hay, corn stalks, and grains like corn, wheat, and barley, as well as legumes like beans, peas, and soy.
Feeds can also include agricultural and food waste, like brewery lees, almond hulls, and cotton seeds. Cattle (including dairy cows) may even receive candy from Skittles to overrun chocolate bars in their feeds. And the quality of a cow’s food shows up in the milk and butter the cow produces.
Why Choose Grass-Fed Butter?
There are many reasons to choose grass-fed butter. Below are just a few of them.
It Can Help You Lose Weight and Boost Your Immune System.
Conjugated Linoleic Acid, better known as CLA, is a fatty acid found in meat and dairy.
Some studies show that CLA helps to promote weight loss by improving your body's composition, and it can also help boost your immune system. It’s an omega-6 naturally occurring fatty acid, but it’s not damaging to our health like the other omega-6s (corn, soybean, and cottonseed oil) and artificially made trans fats.
Since our bodies don't make CLA, we have to get it from the food we eat. Grass-fed meat and dairy contain up to 500% more CLA's than conventional grain-fed cows.
In addition to CLA, butter and other full-fat dairy products boost the body’s production of an important fatty acid called butyrate. Butyrate is the main energy source for intestinal cells, and it comes from the microbiome in your gut.
Studies suggest that higher butyrate production lowers inflammation and diabetes risks, along with reducing the risk of colon cancer. Since 70% of the immune system lives in the gut, it’s a great idea to take a gut-first approach to health.
Although the studies aren’t all in, boosting butyrate production in your gut may also help prevent or treat conditions of the brain ranging from depression to stroke and even Alzheimer’s disease. Grass-fed butter and other full-fat grass-fed dairy products have significantly higher levels of butyrate than conventional dairy products.
It’s Rich Color Points to Its Superior Nutrient Value
Grain-fed butter is a pale yellow/white with a somewhat waxy texture.
Grass-fed butter has a deep yellow color with a smooth, creamy texture. The difference comes from the nutritional value, which starts with the animal’s diet.
Unlike cows that eat grain, cows eating a natural diet of fresh vegetation get ample amounts of carotene, antioxidants, vitamins, and other essential minerals. The color of the fat on the meat and in the butter from a grass-fed cow is a good indicator of how nutrient-rich the meat and the butter will be.
Grass-fed butter is higher in all nutrients, including vitamins and minerals, but it’s especially rich in beta carotene, and vitamin K. Beta carotene is an important vitamin, responsible for several different processes in the body. It’s vital to keeping the skin and eyes healthy and plays a central role in maintaining the immune system. It’s even important for reproductive health.
Be careful, though. Just like with the label “grass-fed beef,” labels for butter can be misleading. If you aren’t sure that the cattle your butter comes from are 100% grass-fed, you can’t be sure you’re getting the full nutritional benefits.
It Offers a Balanced Ratio of Omega-3 and Omega-6 Fatty Acids
When animals graze a diet of rich grass, this results in omega-3 fatty acids that show up in the milk, butter, and saturated fat in the meat. Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to help reduce inflammation, protect you from heart disease, and reduce high triglyceride levels in the blood.
Consuming a diet too high in Omega-6 fatty acids can cause inflammation in the body, which is thought to be a significant player in the cause of cardiovascular disease.
Grass-fed butter provides a balanced source of Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids.
Salted vs. Unsalted Butter
While you can mostly use salted and unsalted butter interchangeably, there are a few things that each one is better for.
Unsalted butter is best for baking. The neutral flavor is important for baked goods, and lets you control the salt content and the taste of your cakes, cookies, breads, and whatever else you like to make.
Salted butter is an ideal flavor enhancer for savory foods. It’s great for giving sautéed vegetables and cooked meats a little extra oomph, since the salt in the butter seasons the food as it cooks. Salted butter is also excellent for building sauces, whether you’re making hollandaise or a red wine reduction.
For years, animal fats have received a bad rap. But research is now telling us a different story regarding grass-fed animals. So relax and enjoy the rich nutrients that grass-fed butter has to offer!
Visit our store for a trusted source of grass-fed butter, from the regenerative pastures of our family farm, delivered to your door!