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Myth: Adding butter to your coffee improves health

butter in coffeeTRUTH: Let me begin with: proponents of butter in coffee stipulate that only butter made from grass-fed cows has the high quality fats to make this beneficial.  This recipe, which consists of about 2 tablespoons each of butter, coffee, and MCT oil (aka medium chain triglycerides) was developed by a guy who lost a lot of weight and as we all know, that doesn’t make it (or him) healthy.

The reasoning for this recipe is wrought with so many issues.  Here are the general arguments that buttered coffee drinkers make and the degree of truth for each:

  1. Butter from grass-fed cows has more omega-3s than from grain fed cows – very true! But it also has a lot of saturated fat too.  There are much better sources of omega-3s out there.
  2. Butter has butyrate, a short-chain fatty acid with health benefits – very true!  But the beneficial bacteria in your colon also produce short-chain fatty acids (including butyrate), so you don’t have to worry about supplementation with butter.
  3. Butter has CLA (conjugated linoleic acid), which can help reduce body weight (BMI) – very true!  But 1 tablespoon of butter has only 70 grams of CLA.  To get the weight-related benefits of CLA, you would need to eat 40 tablespoons of butter, which is about 1.25 pounds. Let me say that again: you would need to eat 1.25 pounds of butter – every day – to get the CLA benefits found in research.  I don’t even have to begin to tell you the problems that stem from eating 1.25 pounds of butter daily.
  4. Consuming butter in your coffee will give you energy – somewhat true.  Proponents argue that the fat will act as a substrate and be used as energy in the form of ketones, which is true, but your body will try to use any carbohydrate before fat for energy.  Besides, the Atkins diet is so 2004.
  5. Having butter in your coffee is a virtual breakfast-replacement since it provides calories and caffeine – very weak, at best.  I even noticed a random blogger suggest that this is healthier than oatmeal.  I’m torn – part of me doesn’t want to even dignify this with a response but the other part of me is screaming: Phytonutrients! Fiber! Lean protein! Antioxidants! Fruits! Vegetables! I fail to see the logic in how butter replaces any (or all) of those things (though, to be fair, coffee has antioxidants).


BOTTOM LINE: Yes, butter from grass fed, antibiotic and hormone-free cows has more benefits than butter from grain fed, hormone-laden cows pumped full of antibiotics.  However, for health, you’re (hopefully) only consuming small amounts of butter so the supposed “health benefits” of bulletproof coffee are few and far between.  There may even be risks – some evidence is coming out that bulletproof coffee drastically elevates cholesterol levels.  None of this is to say that butter in coffee isn’t delicious; but I wouldn’t know, because I haven’t tried this fad yet.  Have you?


1. Nutrition Express: CLA reduces body fat and improves Body Mass Index

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