The real deal with butter: Is it good or bad for kids?
In India, butter is loved in most households. We love to add a dollop on our parathas, to the curries, soups and dals, and more so to the croissant, cookie and cake mixes. Owing to its rich and creamy texture and mild flavour, its loved by children too. But the question in recent times is – does butter love the children back? Let’s get to the bottom of this.
Since butter is derived from cow’s milk, it mainly consists of milk fat, which is separated from other milk components. This gives the butter a rich flavour and creamy texture. And this is why butter is used for cooking, baking and even pan-frying. The various types of butter available include unsalted, salted, grass-fed, and clarified varieties. Hence, the type of butter depends on the ingredients and production method used. Read on to know more about how butter in your child’s diet can affect his health.
One tablespoon (14 grams) of butter has the following nutrients:
- Calories- 102
- Sugar- 0.01 grams
- Water- 16%
- Carbohydrates- 0.01 grams
- Protein - 0.12 grams
- Total fat- 11.5 grams
- Saturated - 7.29 grams,
- Monounsaturated - 2.99 grams,
- Polyunsaturated - 0.43 grams,
- Trans - 0.47 grams
- Vitamin A- 11% of Reference Daily Intake (RDI)
- Vitamin E- 2% of the RDI
- Vitamin B12- 1% of the RDI
- Vitamin K- 1% of the RDI
The production of butter involves the following steps:
- The first step involves separating the cream from the milk.
- Butter is produced by churning and shaking the cream, until milk fat or butter comes together, and separates from the liquid components or buttermilk.
- The leftover buttermilk is then drained, and the butter is churned further, until it is ready for packaging.
Butter for children
While an adequate amount of fat is required during childhood and later on in life for energy and immunity, it is essential to monitor the portion size, as butter is high in calories. An optimum amount of butter and other healthy fats is beneficial during childhood as they are crucial for growth and development. However, the amount of fat your child needs to consume will depend on the calories he or she requires according to their age.
Health benefits of butter for kids
- Butter is high in calories and provides energy and also contains essential nutrients like vitamins A, E, K, and B12.
- Butter aids physical growth as it contains proteins that strengthen the muscles of the body.
- Grass-fed butter has omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids that help in brain development in children.
- Small amounts of riboflavin, niacin, calcium and phosphorus are also present in butter, which are good for health.
- Butter contains butyrate that helps in treating irritable bowel syndrome and improves digestion.
- Vitamin A in butter is a fat-soluble vitamin, which helps to build the immune system, ensures healthy vision, and enhances skin health.
- Butter also has vitamin E, which supports heart health and acts as an antioxidant to protect your cells against damage caused due to free radicals.
Although butter has a beneficial effect on kids, it should be eaten in moderation because of its high calorie content and saturated fats, which can raise “bad” or LDL cholesterol.
The fat factor in butter
Eighty percent of butter is fat, and the rest is water. It is known as the fatty portion of milk, which separates from protein and carbohydrates. It contains more than 400 different fatty acids, of which 70% are saturated fats, 25% are monounsaturated fatty acids, and there is a trace amount of polyunsaturated fatty acids (2.3%). Other types of fatty acids are cholesterol and phospholipids.
Apart from this, butter also has butyric acid as short chain fatty acids (11% of saturated fats), dairy trans-fats as vaccenic acid, and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA). There are trace amounts of vitamins and minerals present, which are good for your child’s health, if taken in moderation.
So, to conclude, including butter in your kid’s diet is important, but only in moderation (1-2 tablespoon/day). It should be combined with other healthy fats like olive oil, nuts, and seeds. As children are more active and require ample energy for physical development, the controlled intake of butter is advisable, as an excess might lead to obesity and other metabolic problems later in life.