People residing in Mongolia have been adding butter to their tea long before the craze ever hit here in North America. Butter coffee otherwise known as Bulletproof coffee has had it’s moment in the spotlight, which is probably more than it deserved but it’s popularity still lingers and many feel it is something we should be consuming for optimal health. Not only is butter added to coffee but medium-chain triglyceride oil (or coconut oil) is as well, both being saturated fats, making that next order at Starbucks a “double, double, double, double.” (okay, I must apologize, a true Bulletproof coffee does not contain cream or sugar but you know someone out there is going all out)
The latest meta-analysis suggests that saturated fat isn’t a significant cause of cardiovascular disease and stroke as once believed. There is no one happier than I to finally have this recognition as coconuts and coconut products have been a staple in the diet of my clientele for years. However, as with most things, a good chunk of our society prefers to think only in shades of “black or white.” Meaning, if something is found not to be harmful, then the opposite must be true and we should all be gorging ourselves, and in this case, with butter. The latest research regarding saturated fat undoubtedly prompted the “high fat” and paleo tribes to raise their fists in victory, but Dr. David Katz explores some validity issues and misinterpretations with this analysis, discussed here.
It’s okay to consume whole foods higher in saturated fat when they come in their original unprocessed form. Such foods also contain other minerals, vitamins and nutrients, something that pure fat products like butter and coconut oil do not. Oils are processed and only dense in a single nutrient, where as an actual coconut also contains protein and carbohydrate.
Just because saturated fat is suggested to be a weak link in the cause of heart disease, this doesn’t mean there is no link. Spencer Nadolsky, member of the DocsWhoLift team, found that a number of his patients who had been consuming “fat coffee” had elevated levels of blood LDL-particle and apolipoprotein B (apoB), both of which are indicators of atherosclerosis. Once their patients eliminated the excess butter (and coconut oil) from their diet, within a few months both numbers decreased significantly.
Two things worth noting here, the first being not everyone who consumes “fat coffee” will have these elevated numbers due to our individual genetics and environmental factors. Second, if the patients were also consuming meals with their 600+ Calorie coffee, they would be in a large calorie surplus, and we know that a calorie surplus can also raise blood LDL-particle/apoB numbers, among many other indicators associated with chronic disease.
With just about every topic, especially in nutrition, that has two opposing views, I find the answer is not a definite “A” or “Z,” but falls somewhere in between. Therefore, if you want to cook with a little butter or coconut oil (as well as avocado oil, lard and ghee), by all means please do so as these fats are the best at standing up to high temperatures.
*A note about coffee
Some of us are slow metabolizers of caffeine, meaning the caffeine stays in our system longer than those who metabolize caffeine quicker. This can explain why you may have poor sleep after just one coffee. Those who are slow metabolizers also have a greater risk of heart disease after three cups of coffee per day.
Even though mycotoxins in coffee have been a largely debated topic as of late, this study suggests that up o 70-80% of mycotoxins are destroyed in the roasting process and coffee beans from the developed world contain only trace amounts. That said, I still prefer an organic, fair-trade coffee, even though it comes at a price.