As we will discuss in the chapter on fats, Americans are consuming a diet that’s too rich in inflammatory omega-6 fats and too low in healthy omega-3s. When the ratio of these two fats is lopsided, it sets the stage for chronic inflammation and disease. But the old adage that you are what you eat applies not only to humans but to cattle as well. Cows that graze on their natural diet of grass produce milk (and meat) with a better composition of fats and nutrients than cows that are fed corn, soy, and grains.
If you’re going to consume butter or other dairy products, remember that grass-fed is best. The milk these cows produce has an omega-6 to omega-3 ratio of 1:1, 43 which is optimal. Conventionally raised cows eat grains and other crops that make their fatty-acid profiles more inflammatory. The milk they produce—and as a result the butter and cheese made from it—is heavily skewed toward omega-6 fats. 44 Organic dairy is somewhere in the middle.
These products come from cows that are given some access to pasture. The rest of their diet comes from organic grains and feed that are free of pesticides, herbicides, and antibiotics. As a result, the milk they produce has a better ratio of fats than conventional dairy. But grass-fed is still best.
It contains not only the best ratio of the essential fatty acids, but also the highest levels of carotene, vitamin A, and CLA, which has beneficial effects on metabolism. I also recommend probiotic-rich dairy like kefir and yogurt (as long as they’re grass-fed and not full of added sugar).
I like clarified butter, which has all the water and milk solids removed (which means it can be used by those who are allergic to dairy). I also like organic, grass-fed ghee, the traditional Indian form of butter. It has all the great nutrients and fatty acids, but a higher smoking point, which makes it ideal for high-heat cooking and searing.
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