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Three years ago it seemed impossible to be able to incorporate real, traditional foods into our life. There were just so. many. changes. But the more I read, the more I was convinced it was necessary for my family’s health. The more I was convinced, the easier it was to make changes. That’s because the biggest change you can make is in perspective.

I believe that realizing that the lipid hypothesis was wrong is key to breaking free from industrialized foodways and recovering health.

That is why I wanted to present getting back to traditional fats as the first step in a series that are not only easy, but can vastly improve your health, as it did mine.

Saturated Fat is Good For You

First of all we have to bust the myth that saturated fat is bad for you. I wrote about 7 reasons to eat more saturated fat if you want to see the benefits of saturated fat. I also wrote an article called Fats to Eat, Fats to Avoid in which one section was titled "Saturated Fat Will Not Kill You."

So Why Are Traditional Fats Demonized?

The more I research it and experience health improvements in my own body, the more I realize how foundational traditional saturated fats are to our health. If they are so good for us then why, for the past 50-100 years have we been told to completely avoid them in place of "healthier" mono- or polyunsaturated fats?

To be honest, the answer makes me angry, and it should make you angry too. In almost every case traditional fats have been criminalized falsely in order for companies to sell a new manmade fat. Companies developed huge smear campaigns with unfounded science while butter, lard, tallow, and coconut oil were all unable to fight back. It is a lot easier to make a lot of money off of a manmade product than a God given one that you can’t patent. So let’s take a look at the fats that your great-grandmothers might have had kicking around in her pantry.


Butter is no new-fangled food, it has been around since Biblical times, and is spoken of as a good . In fact the prophet Isaiah prophesied the coming of Christ and that He himself would eat butter:

Isaiah 7:14-15 Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

 Butter and honey shall he eat, that he may know to refuse the evil, and choose the good.

It is safe to assume that our grandparents and great-grandparents gladly partook in butter, since it’s man-made alternative margarine didn’t become popular until "the Margarine Act of 1950" (I kid you not) was signed by president Truman, removing the excise taxes and bans that the dairy industry had worked to put in place. (source) Margarine was cheaper, which made it more appealing to some, but it really became popular when the lipid hypothesis came on the scene. Funny how as margarine consumption increased and butter consumption decreased we saw the largest surge in heart disease mortality. (source)

So it is not surprising that we are now finding that the lipid hypothesis (the idea that dietary cholesterol, and therefore saturated fat, cause heart disease) was wrong all along. I was a firm believer of the lipid hypothesis in college and consumed my share of "buttery spreads". I was thankful to have found this information and to add grass-fed butter back into our diet. (see sources)

We will continue covering traditional fats as well as the dangers of modern fats in the next part of this series.

How about you… have you switched back to butter? What are your thoughts on traditional fats?


30 Responses to Huge, but Easy Step Towards a Nourishing Diet: Stick with Traditional Fats, Part One

  1. Can’t wait to read more about this!


  2. Denise says:

    oh, yes. Butter for everyone : )


  3. My mind was on fats today too! My post is about Lard!!!

    Yes, my husband’s (63) latest blood work showed great results…his doc commented, “you lipids are GREAT!”…if only he knew it’s bc we’ve been eating butter for over 30 yrs! I couldn’t agree with you more about the benefits to our health. In fact it was once I started consuming CLO and raw butter together that I saw the miraculous healing in my own health from “incurable” infectious diseases.


  4. I think eating traditional fats is one of the most important steps toward acheiving a nourishing diet. Bad fats are simply one of the most damaging foods on the planet, and good fats are one of the most healing.

    Traditional fats are the foundation of nourished living. Without a proper foundation it will be almost impossible to implement other nourishing practices or even get much benefit from them. Without plenty of quality fats, it’s incredibly difficult to conquer sugar cravings or make use of essential fat-soluble vitamins.


  5. Tara says:

    Thanks so much for this series. I am just beginning the journey of transforming my family’s diet, so I am excited to read and learn as much as possible. Your blog is so helpful and a wealth of info.

    I also have a series on my blog. It is about all of the baby steps we are taking and the results of them. I would love for you to stop by and offer any advice and suggestions you may have.

    Thanks, again!


    Shannon Reply:

    Tara – It was good to read your blog. Thank you!


  6. Noelle says:

    My husband’s cousins were dairy farmers for years. As a newlywed, she and I had a talk about fats once. She convinced me then that butter was better. We consumed mostly butter (with some margarine for the kids to use…softer and easier I thought) for the first 12 years of our marriage. A few years ago I looked at the ingredients on the soft tub. I bought a butter dish for the counter so the kids could have soft butter. No more fake stuff here.

    And my kids are such little food snobs! They turn their noses up at anything but real butter. Yay for them!


  7. Carla says:

    Although my total cholesterol is high (thank you, Mother!) my HDL/LDL ratio is in the VERY excellent range. I eat real butter, olive oil and a little canola oil mainly. Nevertheless my doctors believe I will keel over of a heart attack tomorrow if not instantly put on a statin. No thank you. My heart was checked about a year ago and I was told it is “perfect”? Why should I mess with what is already working quite well?


    Shannon Reply:

    Carla – That’s great that you are questioning statins. I have heard very bad things about them. Have you read the Cholesterol Con? Absolutely necessary for anyone who questions their “high cholesterol”.


  8. Chandelle says:

    I feel really sorry for my childhood self, sucking down those clear plastic bottles of “vegetable oil,” smearing margarine on everything in sight. I don’t eat dairy products now, but I wouldn’t consider eating those fake foods, either. I agree that good fat is one of the most important foundations of a healthy diet. We do lots of coconut oil and cold-pressed olive oil, and the fats that are naturally present in various whole foods. I wouldn’t consider returning to those crappy oils ever again.


  9. Jennifer says:

    I couldn’t agree with you more. We switched to real butter years ago, but unfortunately my dd is allergic to dairy, so I do buy some fake butter for her to use sparingly. I too can’t believe how Americans jumped on the margarine bandwagon, only to cause their own untimely deaths from heart disease.


  10. We love all the traditional fats except lard. Coconut oil and butter is what we use often. It sounds like you and I started around the same time working towards the real traditional foods… so cool!


  11. Heather H. says:

    I have lost 18 lbs over the last year. I changed absolutely nothing about my diet, we already ate a pretty whole food diet. I just eliminated all trans fat, and started using Coconut Oil, Butter, Raw whole milk, and Olive oil exclusively. I am now my ideal weight, have great muscle tone, and never have food cravings. Everything tastes good with butter on it!


  12. I threw out my tub of Earth Balance today and thawed out a stick of buter. Dairy proteins bother me, but I’m wondering if butter will as well since it’s mostly fat and very little protein. We shall see. :)


  13. Jessie says:

    Great post! I think it is important to remember to get the grass-fed butter & not other kinds. It’s so much better for you!


  14. Krissy says:

    I had switched to grass -fed butter; however, now I currently try to avoid most dairy. I have PCOS and found that the pastured butter added into my diet caused a lot of acne. Now that I have eliminated the dairy, the acne is gone. I use Nutiva coconut oil for everything now.


  15. Divina says:

    Great post on going back to the basics.


  16. Karen says:

    I avoid most dairy, but butter does not seem to bother me the way other dairy products do. We have been using butter for years now; sometimes during Lent my husband will use trans-fat free margarine, but for my kids and me it’s butter all the way, or coconut oil (or both).

    I had my cholesterol checked not too long ago and it was great. Growing up, we only used margarine. We had a huge (HUGE!) yellow tub of it in the fridge. We didn’t know any better.


  17. Susan says:

    Great post! A doctor told me recently that many people are deficient in vitamin D. The reason she gave—low to no butter consumption.

    Our family cut out “vegetable” oils and margarine and other spreads a few years ago. It simply does not make sense to eat things that have to be unnaturally altered…and they don’t even taste good.

    It is worth noting that all the people I know who are on lowfat/low cholesterol diets due to heart disease or weight problems cannot keep of the weight or even lose it in the first place. Many take prescription drugs to lower their cholesterol and then have severe side-effects…it seems our whole society is really lost over what you need to do to be healthy.


  18. [...] ← Huge, but Easy Step Towards a Nourishing Diet: Stick with Traditional Fats, Part One Huge, but Easy Step Towards a Nourishing Diet: Add Cod Liver Oil [...]

  19. Milehimama says:

    We switched to butter, then hormone free butter, and I have no idea where to get grassfed butter! But it’s taken me a long time to get used to it. I grew up on margarine and butter has too much flavor for me! Kids and husband adore it, though!


  20. Heather says:

    My HDL was lower than I’d like it for a skinny 34 year old. We’ve been using regular butter and olive oil and canola oil. I just made the switch from canola to coconut oil (which I hope helps some) and we have not bought butter spreads in a long time. Do you think switching to grassfed butter would improve my HDL?

    I’m interested in learning all I can to improve my HDL…



    Shannon Reply:

    Heather – I am not a medical professional by any means, so please consult one if you are unsure. Everything that I have read points to higher saturated fat = higher HDL. Of course those saturated fats should also come from pastured animals in the form of butter, meat, lard, etc. Something about the higher omega-3 content working syngergistically with the saturated fats. Truth be told I just think God made animal fats for us to eat because they make us well.


  21. [...] Huge, But Easy Step Towards a Nourishing Diet: Stick with Traditional Fats, Part One from Nourishing Days [...]

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  24. Have you tried ghee? It’s often tolerated even by those with dairy allergies. A good quality ghee will have all the benefits of butter without the lactose or casein. And it’s soft enough to spread at room temperature, so it’s a great butter replacement.


  25. Isa says:

    You could also try adding a little sea salt to cold pressed olive oil and keeping it in the fridge – it solidifies but can still easily be spread like a butter


  26. Chandelle says:

    Dairy causes acne for me, too, especially cheese. On the other hand, coconut oil does great things for my skin!


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