The case for butter

The formerly maligned fat can help keep athletes' hearts healthy.

Shunning butter is an idea that’s based on old science and the misguided fear of saturated fats; we now know that a little bit may be necessary for athletes to consume.

“Studies show that including some saturated fat in your diet can reduce levels of lipoprotein(a), which is associated with heart disease,” says Maria Pagano, RD, Tier X manager at Equinox in New York City.

Of course, you shouldn’t rely on butter as a perennial go-to when cooking. Avocado and olive oil are heart-healthy sources of monounsaturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids, important for everything from satiation to brain health.

But butter can be included in rotation occasionally (calories from from saturated fats like butter should total to less than 10 percent of a day’s calories). To boost flavor, stir a small amount into cauliflower rice after it’s done cooking or top off steamed asparagus with a smear and some seasonings. Just be sure to choose butter from antibiotic-free, grass-fed cows, which can be healthier for the heart.