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6 Dangerous Side Effects of Eating Too Much Butter, According to Experts

Butter is used in everything from baking to cooking, at breakfast to dinner, so it's entirely possible to overdo it.
FACT CHECKED BY Olivia Tarantino
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Butter might make food taste better, but you should think twice before tossing a stick (or two) of it into your pound cake or mashed potato recipe. Like most foods, butter is fine (and even healthy) in moderation, but if you're continually slathering too much of it on your toast every morning, you could be putting yourself at risk for developing dangerous and even life-threatening medical conditions.

"Butter has a high saturated fat content making eating too much of this food product dangerous for heart health," explains Trista Best, RD a Registered Dietitian at Balance One Supplements.

Another problem with eating too much butter (and saturated fats in general) is that they can lead to harmful weight gain and even obesity, which in turn can cause a host of serious health issues.

"Butter contains concentrated calories (around 100 calories per tablespoon) and eating too much can contribute to weight gain," says Lisa Young, PhD, RDN, and author of Finally Full, Finally Slim.

Due to these characteristics of the dairy product, along with others, there are a few dangerous side effects of eating too much butter, according to experts. Read on to learn more, and for more on healthy eating, don't miss 7 Healthiest Foods to Eat Right Now.

1

It can cause an increase in LDL 'bad' cholesterol.

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"Butter is high in saturated fat. A tablespoon has about seven grams, which is about one-third of your daily recommended allowance," explains Leann Poston MD, MBA, MEd. "Eating a diet high in saturated fats increases your LDL ("bad") and HDL cholesterol. Increased LDL cholesterol can contribute to atherosclerosis and atherosclerosis can increase your risk for blood clots, strokes, and heart attacks."

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2

It can lead to heart disease.

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As Poston mentioned, the increase in LDL cholesterol that can be caused by consuming too much butter, in turn, has its own set of dangerous side effects. "Butter is a saturated fat which can contribute to heart disease when eaten in excess," says Young. "Butter, along with other saturated fats, elevate the LDL cholesterol (unhealthy cholesterol) which can clog arteries leading to heart disease."

Morgyn Clair, RD, a registered dietitian nutritionist for Sprint Kitchen, agrees with the link between eating too much butter and heart disease. "Butter is hard on the cardiovascular system due to its high content of saturated fats," she notes. "Saturated fat leads to a buildup of plaque in the arteries, decreasing the efficiency of blood flow. Eventual effects of this plaque can be heart attack, heart disease, and stroke." If you're concerned about heart health (as we all should be), read up on these Eating Habits That Cause Lasting Damage to Your Heart, According to Experts.

3

It can contribute to the development of visceral fat.

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Studies show that eating too much butter can increase your chances of developing visceral fat. "Overconsumption of butter can result in excess visceral fat being stored deep in your abdomen due to its high levels of saturated fat," notes Malorie Thompson, PN1 nutritionist. "Visceral fat is linked to an increase in several negative health conditions, including heart disease, Alzheimer's, and type 1 diabetes."

4

It can lead to obesity.

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And it's not just the development of visceral fat that can be an issue. "[Butter] contributes to weight gain," says Chrissy Arsenault, MBA, RDN, LD. "Butter has over 100 calories per tablespoon. When you use a lot, that adds up quickly, especially since most of those calories are from saturated fat. Obesity can lead to other health issues, like heart disease, diabetes, and even certain cancers."

She continues: "The bottom line is, there are better ways to add flavor to dishes without making them unhealthy. Olive oil has just as many calories per tablespoon as butter but no dietary cholesterol and far less saturated fat, making it a much better choice." (Related: What Happens To Your Body When You Eat Olive Oil)

5

It can cause an increase in triglycerides.

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"Saturated fat is solid at room temperature and can increase cholesterol and triglycerides," notes Lisa Richards, a nutritionist and the author of The Candida Diet. "An increase in these two biometric markers will raise one's risk of heart disease or stroke significantly. This is because cholesterol and circulating fat can cause artery blockages, a serious contributor to cardiovascular issues."

6

It's associated with an increased risk of developing Alzheimer's Disease and Dementia.

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According to a 2018 study in the Current Alzheimer Research medical journal, there is a positive association between higher saturated fat intake (such as butter) and the chance of developing Alzheimer's Disease and dementia.

Researchers studied a total of 8,630 participants and found that a higher dietary saturated fat intake was significantly associated with an increased risk of 39% and 105% for Alzheimer's Disease and dementia, respectively. Protect your brain by avoiding these 5 Worst Foods for Your Brain, According to Doctors as much as possible.

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