Butter is a traditional fat that has been consumed for thousands of years in cultures all over the world. When the anti-saturated fat campaign started in the US, many people stopped using butter and switched to margarines made from hydrogenated vegetable oils, high in trans-fatty acids. Trans-fatty acids are now banned in some European countries, and food manufactures in the U.S. must list all trans-fats used in their products as people seek to avoid them.
Butter is rich in short and medium chain fatty acids, including even small amounts of lauric acid. It is rich in antioxidants as well, in the form of beta carotene, vitamin E, and selenium. It is one of the best sources of vitamin A. Because living grass is richer in vitamins E, A, and beta-carotene than stored hay or standard dairy diets, butter from dairy cows grazing on fresh pasture is also richer in these important nutrients. The naturally golden color of grass-fed butter is a clear indication of its superior nutritional value. (Searles, SK et al, “Vitamin E, Vitamin A, and Carotene Contents of Alberta Butter.” Journal of Diary Science, 53(2) 150–154.)
By nature, cows are grazing (grass-eating) animals. 85–95% of dairy cows today are raised in confinement on a diet of grain, particularly corn, because it is far more cost-efficient for agribusiness. This grain-based diet can cause changes in the ph in cows, creating many abnormal physiological conditions in the cow which can increase the need for the use antibiotics. Many of these dairy cows are fed a variety of growth hormones to increase milk production. Most grocery store shelves offer the dairy products from these types of cows. Butter from grain-fed cows is very high in the omega-6 fatty acids, of which most people are consuming too much due to the high amounts of omega 6 vegetable oils and foods in the US diet. The omega-3 fatty acids in most conventional dairy products today are very low, and most people are dangerously deficient in them. Milk from grass-fed cows has a much higher content of omega-3 fatty acids.