The low carb diet movement has created a demand for high fat, low carb food and beverage products, including butter coffee. While butter coffee products are extremely popular among low carb and paleo diet enthusiasts, many wonder whether there’s any truth to their purported health benefits.
What is butter coffee?
In its simplest and most traditional form, butter coffee is just plain brewed coffee combined with butter. Although many people believe that butter coffee is a modern concoction, this high fat beverage has been consumed throughout history. Many cultures and communities, including the Sherpas of the Himalayas and the Gurage of Ethiopia, have been drinking butter coffee and butter tea for centuries. Some people living in high altitude regions add butter to their coffee or tea for much-needed energy, as living and working in high altitude areas increases their calorie needs. Additionally, people in the Himalayan regions of Nepal and India, as well as certain areas in China, commonly drink tea made with yak butter. In Tibet, butter tea, or po cha, is a traditional beverage consumed on a daily basis.
Bullet Proof Coffee
Nowadays, especially in developed countries like the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada, butter coffee usually refers to coffee that contains butter and coconut or MCT oil. MCT stands for medium-chain triglycerides, a type of fat commonly derived from coconut oil. Bulletproof coffee is a trademarked recipe created by Dave Asprey that consists of coffee, grass-fed butter, and MCT oil. It’s favored by low carb diet enthusiasts and purported to boost energy and reduce appetite, among other benefits. Today, people consume butter coffee, including Bulletproof coffee, for various reasons, such as to enhance weight loss and promote ketosis — a metabolic state in which the body burns fat as its main energy source. You can prepare butter coffee easily at home. Alternatively, you can purchase premade butter coffee products, including Bulletproof coffee, at grocery stores or online.
Does Butter Coffee Have Health Benefits?
The internet is rife with anecdotal evidence claiming that drinking butter coffee boosts energy, increases focus and promotes weight loss. Here are some science-backed health benefits related to the individual ingredients typically used to make butter coffee:
Coffee – Packed with health-promoting antioxidants like chlorogenic acid, coffee may increase energy, enhance concentration, promote fat burning, and even reduce the risk of certain diseases.
Grass-fed butter – Grass-fed butter contains higher amounts of powerful antioxidants, including beta carotene, as well as higher amounts of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids, than regular butter.
Coconut oil or MCT oil – Coconut oil is a healthy fat that may increase heart-protective HDL (good) cholesterol and reduce inflammation. MCT oil has been shown to promote weight loss and improve cholesterol in some studies.
While it’s clear that the ingredients used to make butter coffee offer a variety of health benefits, no studies have investigated the purported advantages of combining these ingredients.