Coffee’s ready! Grab your favorite mug, fill it with that aromatic brew and be sure to leave room for … butter and coconut oil? Sounds crazy, but this unlikely combination has been gaining in popularity for years, and the trend is likely to continue.

Proponents say that replacing breakfast with a beverage historically known as “butter coffee” or “buttered coffee” could suppress the appetite, help with weight loss, increase energy levels and improve athletic performance. However, research has shown that consuming saturated fat may increase your risk for coronary heart disease, high blood pressure (hypertension) and cancer.

Spatola mug
Kimberly Spatola

To help sort fact from fiction, we asked Kimberly Spatola, registered dietitian at Novant Health Heart & Vascular Institute in Elizabeth, whether butter coffee offers any benefits. Here’s what she had to say.

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What is butter coffee?

Butter coffee is also known as “Bulletproof Coffee,” named after the company that developed the brew. The beverage is made with hot black coffee blended with 1 to 2 tablespoons of unsalted, grass-fed butter or ghee, and 1 to 2 tablespoons of medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) oil or coconut oil.

The end result: a frothy drink that looks like a cafe latte and has a unique flavor many enjoy. Taste and texture aside, it’s important to know that a 16-ounce serving of butter coffee made with 2 tablespoons each of ghee and MCT oil delivers:

  • 489 calories.
  • 53.6 grams of fat (including 43.9 grams saturated fat).
  • 10 mg sodium.
  • 0.6 gram protein.

Adding collagen powder or protein powder, as many people do, may increase calories and added sugars (depending on the powder’s ingredients).

Why is it so trendy?

While it has surged in popularity in the past 10 years, the concept of combining coffee or tea with butter has existed for centuries in various cultures, including those in Tibet, India and Africa.

Communities who have traditionally lived and worked in mountainous regions like the Himalayas have long turned to butter coffee or tea to help offset the additional calorie requirements of living and working in high altitudes.

The recipe is also a favorite among proponents of intermittent fasting, the keto diet and other low-carb/high-fat eating plans. In fact, the coffee-with-added-fats fad has become so mainstream that Starbucks introduced a new line of “Oleato” beverages infused with olive oil.

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