I’m a big fan of butter. It’s delicious. In my opinion, a small amount* of butter for those who can tolerate it in their diet is far healthier than a pale, processed, tasteless margarine spread with a myriad of health claims. Real butter is made from milk but, as I recently discovered the hard way, not all butters are created equal.
Milk is made up of water, fat, proteins (whey, casein), carbohydrates (lactose), and minerals, as well as trace amounts of other substances. Butter is made by churning milk to separate the butterfat solids from the buttermilk liquids. Butterfat, which is better known as butter, is 99% fat, <1% protein, and around 0.1% carbohydrates. The high fat content is what makes butter so unspreadable when cold, and the low carbohydrate content (and therefore low lactose content) may make butter easier to tolerate than milk for those who have lactose intolerance.
My digestion has never been great with lactose in milk or cream, and I recently started noticing that I wasn’t feeling so great when I ate even small amounts of butter from our local supermarket. I started to look at the labels of various brands and was surprised to see their carbohydrate contents varied widely between brands from 0g per 100g, to 1.6g per 100g in the brand we had at home. I researched this online, and the varying lactose content of butter products was confirmed in a clinical trial in 2015. While the amounts might sound relatively insignificant, if you’re a fan of butter and you’ve got a lactose intolerance that won’t settle, then it might be worth double-checking the butter in your fridge!
The best brands I found were Countrylife (0g carbohydrates per 100g butter) and Marks & Spencer butter (<0.1g carbohydrates per 100g butter). We’ve been eating the Countrylife butter at home for a few weeks, and I’m pleased to say my stomach has been a lot happier.
* everything in moderation… This isn’t a green light to eat a whole pack of butter everyday!