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How Do You Take Your Coffee or Tea: with Milk, Cream, or…Butter?!

How Do You Take Your Coffee or Tea: with Milk, Cream, or…Butter?!

Coffee cupDoes dairy negate your favorite brew’s health benefits?
A recent Fox News article informs us that adding butter to coffee, in order to boost energy and speed up weight loss, is the “latest trend” (actually, the Tibetans have been adding yak butter to their tea for generations).
The article adds that “There’s no scientific evidence to support the idea that adding butter to coffee…may help you lose weight.” But there’s more to this than meets the eye.
Ordinarily, we at ANH-USA are fans of butter, which is often maligned for specious reasons. It’s an excellent source of vitamin K2, which is hard to get from diet. The latest research reaffirms that saturated fats are not a risk to your heart.
The ANH-USA staff declined to test the “butter in coffee idea,” but we do think coffee with cream or milk tastes wonderful. Unfortunately, current research warns against adding any kind of dairy to coffee, tea, or chocolate.
Although the research on this is still evolving, it began with scientists wondering why residents of the United Kingdom, who drink tea, get so much heart disease. Since tea is protective against heart disease, why was this happening? The French, for example, drank far less tea, but had less heart disease. Why?
As it turns out, most British tea drinkers add milk, and study after study has found that dairy negates the health benefits of tea. This is because tea contains catechins, a form of flavonoids that are, in turn, a form of polyphenols, which are generally good for us. All mammalian dairy products contain the protein casein, which binds to and neutralizes catechins.
Coffee, like tea, can also have some positive health benefits. According to the Life Extension Foundation, drinking coffee regularly may help somewhat in warding off heart disease, cancer, diabetes, liver disease, and even Alzheimer’s. This is because coffee, like tea, contains polyphenols.
Since the tea discovery, researchers have been trying to learn if dairy has the same effect in coffee. After all, coffee differs from tea: it mostly boasts a different class of antioxidants, called cholorogenic acids (CQA), which contain only low levels of catechins. Unfortunately, some studies do suggest that adding dairy does interfere with the body’s absorption of CQA.
The takeaway? If you’re going to drink coffee or especially tea, it’s best not to add dairy or sugar.
Finally, and we are sorry to have to add this, the same seems to hold true about adding dairy to chocolate. In recent years, there has been concern that chocolate inhibits the absorption of the calcium in milk. It is theorized this could be because of the oxalates, or perhaps the sugar, in chocolate.
But there is also evidence that the milk interferes with the health-inducing flavonols, which Dr. Joseph Mercola pointed out as early as 2008. Dr Mercola also noted that:

Epicatechin, a compound found in unrefined cocoa, is another one of the powerhouse compounds that makes dark chocolate good for you, according to Norman Hollenberg, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, who has spent years studying the effects of routine cocoa drinking on the Kuna people of Panama….Unfortunately, epicatechin is removed from commercial cocoas because it tends to have a bitter taste….

However, epicatechin would presumably still be in raw cocoa beans, which are now commercially available. One of our staff members switched to raw chocolate nibs and discovered that the taste was wonderful with a little bit of Parmesan cheese. But, alas—cheese is, of course, dairy.
There may however be an answer from Dr. Mercola again:

Chocolate is…a perfect example of when less is more. Researchers found that eating a precise amount of chocolate—6.7 grams a day—will give you the best health benefits.

Those 6.7 grams of chocolate amount to one small square of chocolate two or three times a week. We’re talking about a very moderate amount here (if you’re using chocolate for health purposes).
So this may be the solution: eat a little bit of chocolate alone for health reasons—just don’t do it at the same time you indulge in milky hot cocoa for pleasure!
Speaking of pleasure, what could be more delightful than blueberries in cream? Blueberries are also a super food and, like many berries and colored fruit, another rich source of polyphenols.
Does that raise the same issue we have just raised for tea, coffee, or chocolate? Although there is some research suggesting that the same issue may exist, there really isn’t enough research to draw any firm conclusion yet. Meanwhile, for the puritanically minded, blueberries taste pretty sensational alone.
Before leaving this interesting subject, we can’t resist adding a story. Auberon Waugh reported in his memoirs that at the end of World War Two, the rationing authorities in England issued one banana per child to each household. When three bananas arrived at the Waugh household, the children had to witness their father, the famous novelist Evelyn Waugh, eat the bananas himself in a bowl smothered with sugar and cream.
Well, at least the cruel father might have missed some polyphenols by eating them that way!

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59 thoughts on “How Do You Take Your Coffee or Tea: with Milk, Cream, or…Butter?!

  • Berenice

    Not giving up the organic cream in my coffee or the organic sugar. I only drink honey in my green tea. So if I drink 2 cups of coffee with cream and sugar and 3 cups of green tea with organic honey then I should be fine. And if not too bad. At 72 I’m not about to give up what little food and beverage I consume that give me some measure of pleasure.

  • eevie

    Maybe this is where kosher came from. =) Ancient science and we know we are just now catching up to it. The best coffee and cream in the world is found in Nuremberg, Germany, inside the medieval city walls.

  • Try coconut milk in your coffee! I love the vanilla flavored one, and it comes in sugar free, too. They also make a “barista style” coconut milk that tastes even better.

  • Patricia Roth

    I love cream in my coffee or tea but I’m thinking that coconut oil would be a better choice. It might take some getting use to but the benefits might be worth it. Thinks for this report.

  • The English sugar their tea, and John Yudkin MD showed that heart patients sugar their tea far more heavily than citizen without the disease. Even Keys acknowledged that sugar intake was strongly correlated with heart disease.

  • Stephen Fowler

    I love extra virgin coconut oil in coffee and more so in tea. Cuts the bitter. No casein. Probably won’t interfere with the phenolic compounds.

  • Ok, so you are missing a BASIC fact form this article that is EXTREMELY pertinent to the article itself – butter has VERY LITTLE CASEIN compared to milk or 1/2 and 1/2 as it is a PROTEIN and butter is almost PURE FAT with no protein. Yes, the english put MILK in their tea but NOT butter or heavy cream. Any response? You probably should think about correcting this article or at least posting an update. Also, GHEE or “clarified butter” has no casein at all.

  • Craig

    Take 14-16 oz coffee
    1 Tablespoon MCT oil or Coconut Oil
    1 scoop chocolate ISO Whey powder
    Much goodness!!!

  • Cheryl Elsass

    I take my coffee with cream & splenda sweetner as far as tea goes I only use sweetner & no cream I I don’t like cream or milk in my tea !
    Sincerely,
    Mrs. Cheryl Elsass

  • Rick

    I gave up dairy, all white flour products, all meat, all sugar. You can say, I’m a vegan now! The BEST thing I ever did for my health! Eating only raw vegatables, home made salad dressing from whole foods and (oils spareingly). Whole fruits and nuts. Some cooked foods but mostly raw.
    Sounds pretty bland doesn’t it? But, the good health that follows the detox period when you first start is well worth the effort and sacrifice! Processed foods are killing everyone over time, like most of my departed firends. I’m 65 years old and type 1 diabetic. My health was real bad 3+ +years ago and going downhill fast! Today I feel 35 years old lost 30lbs and have tons of energy! All my health issues except the type1 diabetes are gone and who knows, maybe the type 1 will disappear too. My insulin dose has dropped by 2/3 rds. My blood sugar level has also improved and is more stable, less fluctuation. I ice skate like the wind of a much younger man!

    • Rick

      forgot one other thing?? I love Green Tea w/o cream or sugar also black coffee in the morning!
      I drink green tea all day long as much as 10-12 cups daily! Plus H20 is very good for the body! Helps keep your body Ph at 7.0 (neutral) Range for Ph is 0 to 14, you want the body (urine) at 7.0 to 7.4 range , it will fluctuate over a 24 hour period. Ph levels below 7.0, like 6.8 is called acidic, don’t let you body stay acidic for a number of years or you will get all types of dieases and health problems! Ph is the KEY to health! The blood Ph is very important it has to be at 7.365 all the time. Your body will regulate the blood Ph to keep it at 7.365! That means you need nutrition or neutrients (vitamines & minerals plus micro and macro neutrients in your food. Meat and dairy, processed foods, sugar, and white flour won’t give you the proper neutrients daily as your body requires! Only raw food (veggies) can do this, make salad the main course every day!

      • ACurtis

        I used to drink 3-4 cups of matcha green tea a day, did so for over 2 years on the advice of my naturopathic, only to end up with a Caffeine Sensitivity. I can still drink tea, but it’s usually black iced tea now and only very rarely/occasionally do I have green tea. I like my hot tea plain, no dairy, no sugar and my iced tea with a bit of Stevia. And when I do drink my iced tea, it is very, very watered down. I also converted my family over to the Paleo way of eating around Thanksgiving 2013. Best decision we ever made! We had been gluten free for 6 years, but then I found out how bad most of the gluten-free products are–very refined and processed. We love making our baked goods with coconut flour or almond flour or almond butter or in new and interesting ways. It’s a continuous process, staying away from processed food, and not necessarily easy, esp when you have to travel/are on the road and/or visiting other people/family. When traveling/visiting, we know we won’t be able to follow our diet 100%, so we don’t let ourselves feel guilty/berate ourselves. I love that everyone here at ANH is so health conscious! Now we have to go out and continue waking up the world!

  • The French drink their morning coffee ‘white’, that is with hot milk [ full fat ] added and seem to be far slimmer than the British, but then the French have always had healthy agricultural practices, so perhaps the grass fed factor comes into play as well.

  • Good Morning from a Cherry Blossom adorned day in Tokyo,
    Been reading your Newsletter for quite some time now, passing on information that I feel will be useful to others. Good stuff. Never even thought of Commenting…but today’s read encouraged this.
    The article is interesting and I was once again thinking about the interaction of foods we ingest and generally, how little we know about the effects other than the usual it tastes good or not reaction. Up till the last paragraph I really had little emotional reaction. Now, this might seem like nit-picking but I will plod on anyway.
    I think the last added “story” was a negative touch to an otherwise positive article. I feel it was unnecessary and for me anyhow, didn’t add anything to all the previous info. and in fact seemed a distraction. This is more of a feeling rather then an intellectual assessment. Normally I don’t take the time to comment but for some reason it seems important to express.
    No offense intended. Love your work and happy to pass it on.

  • Robert Iafelice, MS, RD, LD

    First of all, your assertions do not apply to the “butter in coffee or tea idea.” It’s VERY likely that the added fat ( without any casein) will greatly ENHANCE the absorption of polyphenols. This is well proven, i.e., fats will increase absorption of plant pigments. I’m a Nutritionist and free-lance writer for Life Extension Magazine. Check out the upcoming article on Zeaxanthin for research citations regarding this topic. Salads with full fat drssing TROUNCED salads with low fat dressing with regard to carotenoid absorption.
    Your cited studies are one-sided. See below for contradictory evidence.
    Also, one study used skim milk and another used isolated milk protein, i.e., not “whole foods.” The one study using whole milk looked at urinary excretion of chlorogenic acids and metabolites. I can understand increased metabolites, but it would seem that more chlorogenic acid excreted would imply poor absorption?? Am I missing something here??
    In any case, here are some studies showing NO interference from dairy:
    http://www.herbs.org/current/teaunaffectedbymilk.htm
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18032884
    Overall, I have serious doubts that this is an issue. Certainly pure fat as in butter is NOT a problem and probably a bonus.
    I would be delighted to write articles for your site. Please contact me at [email protected]
    Regards,
    Bob Iafelice, MS, RD, LD

    • Dr. Larsen

      I appreciate your references. Do you have a link to the LE article on zeaxanthin? If not published yet, what is anticipated publication date? You might need to increase your level of hyperbole and bias to write for this website. 🙂

  • Verona Murray

    Do all of these studies use only pasteurized milk or are any of them done with raw milk and butter products? I looked to see and found nothing that points out all the differences that raw milk would bring to the mix.

  • Tony

    If I cannot have dairy with coffee, tea and Chocolate (CTC), then I suppose I will just have to give up those three things. It has not been proved that CTC equates to a longer life. They ward off some disease and make other things worse. Meanwhile, since I will die anyway I will just enjoy what God provided while on earth the way that tastes best to me.

  • Jerry Amos

    None of the above. We drink coffee and tea as is, no additives required.
    I do eat 1/2 banana on my hot cereal along with 12 almonds, tsp. chia, tbsp. dried blueberries, a little almond milk unsweetened.

  • Estemax

    If you want the best coffee plus the added benefits of grass-fed butter and mct oil you have to try this for yourself, your brain and body will let you know the difference.
    Bulletproof coffee baby!

  • Paul

    Adding coconut oil will fit the bill. Taste great in coffee and absolutely divine in matcha. The MCTs in the oil plus the caffeine is a great energy boost

  • Laura

    I found this article frustrating as it imparted very specific details about the nature of the negative interaction of dairy with the elements in tea, coffee, and chocolate then, apparently whimsically, include a warning to avoid adding sugar as well, with no explanation.
    I’m hoping the use of almond ‘milk’ in my coffee doesn’t cross any lines (please don’t tell me if it does) and I can drink green tea with some cinnamon and honey. However, I have switched to organic sugar in my coffee to avoid artificial sweeteners so was perplexed to have no information provided.
    And yes, I have also recently switched back to butter, though not for my coffee, and was pleased to hear of it’s newly reinstated place of honor, but that move from margarine was to avoid palm oil due to habitat destruction concerns. It is unfortunate that articles on nutrition often completely ignore humane and environmental factors that many of us take into consideration in making our choices.

  • paul

    These types of studies seem pretty worthless overall. Every single thing effects every other thing when they come in contact. Sort of a universal truth. Taken further, the logic of this sort of article can be reduced to the following. Don’t ever combine one food with another; allow several hours between consuming lettuce and consuming rice (and I’m not talking about buttered or salted rice).
    Really, everything has an effect on everything else. This is a good thing because it is the way of this world. Some combinations will shorten my life some, other combinations will lengthen it, and most will do both at the same time (as if by magic). Life itself can be consumed by the perceived need to not only know what the proverbial “studies” say, but to constantly redirect my actions in order to follow each new shift in thinking.
    I say: eat raw cocoa beans (by themselves) sometimes. But don’t avoid hot cocoa with whipped cream, when you need some loving comfort on a frosty evening. Both are good things…well, at least the hot cocoa is.

  • Elizabeth Whitehouse

    It may very well be true that airy in either tea or coffee reduces the health benefits of the beverage, but I seriously question the contention that milk in tea contributes to more heart disease in the UK than in France. The English have heart disease for the same reason that Americans do – they are seriously overweight and eat lousy diets which include far too many pre-packaged foods. No amount of blck tea or coffee is going to overcome the effects of empty calories and too many chemicals..

  • carmen

    I drink my coffee with low fat coconut milk (the kind that comes in a can) and a tablespoon of coconut oil in it. Delicious and very healthy.

  • Mark Schmerling

    Interesting, but this assumes that all of us drink tea and/or coffee. How about noting that millions of individuals are physically or psychologically addicted to caffeine, often wrongly believing that caffeine is a sleep substitute?

  • Michelle

    Great article about dairy in coffee/tea. My question is about using almond milk or rice milk in chi tea or any kind of tea or coffee. Since it is not dairy, it should not negate the benefits?

  • Melissa

    I put coconut oil in my tea, and occasionally some raw honey and cinnamon. I also put chia seed in my bottle of well water every morning. I switched from margarine to butter, and from skim to whole milk years ago. I’m trying to eat like they did 100 years ago so my grocery shopping trip is only around the outside aisles of the store (produce, meat, and dairy).

    • Janis

      sure hope you exercise as much as 100 years ago. That is how they got away with eating like that; those that did not exercise (WORK physically) did not have the same health quality. Even then.

      • Jel

        Exercise does very little for weight lose. Staying fit is about eating simple. No other place than the outside aisles

    • Karen

      Chia seed in the water??? I am assuming all the good stuff will get into the water…how much do you put in?

  • David S. Clark

    For God’s sake everyone, drink your coffee and tea the way you enjoy it, you will still get some benefits. If we all are taking the antioxidants and nutrient formulations we should be as informed life extensionists, etc., the negligable amount of phytonutrients in coffee and tea won’t even matter. There is now available most everywhere green coffee extracts, green tea extracts, that have the high levels of catechins and chlorogenic acids which allow us to harness the maximum benefits outside of our coffee and tea drinking. I use grass fed raw organic milk in my coffee and have no plan on changing due to these inconclusive, hyperbolic studies. Plus, read what Mercola et al has to say about the health benefits of raw milk, there is many!

    • Jenny

      Are these “studies” done with the supermarket milk which is detrimental in and of itself? How about studies with grass fed, raw, organic milk? Theres a world of difference between the two.

    • Johnny R

      The dairy industry has turned what used to be good for you into this trash that your body has great difficulty dealing with and should be banned! RAW dairy from a grass fed Jersey cow is incredibly good for you. The milk, cream, and butter provide all kinds of health benefits. It is loaded with fully emusified fatty acids the are used by the body to make all kinds of fatty acids the body needs. The casein is not altered and the butterfats are not destroyed. There are NO HUMAN PATHOGENS in milk from a grass fed cow. If you want to make a baby calf sick, just feed it that pasteurized garbage from a grain fed cow!
      The only difference in organic milk is there are no hormones added. When you pasteurize milk from a grass fed cow, you destroy the incredible bacteria that helps digest the lactose (sugar in milk) and you destroy the value of the casein. Heating the casein (protein) in the presence of lactose (sugar), you get the maillard reaction that is CARCINOGENIC! How can that be good for you?
      RAW DAIRY from a grass fed cow is incredibly good for you and these kinds of articles never seem to get it. There is a lot of misinformation being promoted in America today. Most raw foods have ANTI-NUTRIENTS in them, but milk is NOT ONE OF THOSE! Would you pasteurize mother’s milk from a human before feeding it to an infant? Stupid is as stupid does!

  • anonymous_paleo

    Cream and butter contain very little casein compared to milk. I put heavy cream in my coffee and hot tea, but drink iced tea the rest of the day. This article is fear-mongering at best.

    • Suz

      Sorry, but there are now more studies than EVER that there is NO link between consumption of saturated fats and heart disease/attacks. Dr. Al Sears recently wrote an article just on this subject.
      It is a misnomer and the old adage “If you tell a lie enough times, eventually people will believe it” is truer in this case than just about any other.
      Except maybe the lie told for generations about fluoride preventing cavities…although I have read about some cities finally discontinuing the practice of adding it to their water supply to save money, but finding that
      it doesn’t make any difference whatsoever in dental health. Actually, the biggest benefit from stopping fluoridation of water is brain health, as it is shown to cause some serious problems in brain function. Also, fluoride is a by product of aluminum production and aluminum is found in unusually high amounts in AD patient’s brains…btw, the ORIGINAL study published toting fluoride as a cavity preventer was PAID FOR by ….wait for it …… an aluminum manufacturer….YUP.
      So, the moral of the story is: don’t believe ALL of these “wise men” in the medical fields who happen to have a financial stake in you believing their advice. Instead, take the advice of people who have your best interest at heart.
      Look to your parents, grandparents, and primitive ancestors, who lived and ate simply, ate meat and eggs EVERY DAY, and who rarely died of heart disease or cancer.

    • Greg C.

      I can only speak for myself, but I know of many saturated fats which are good for you. If you are still of the position that all saturated fats are bad, I would suggest you look into the following foods, and I emphasize that all must be from sustainable sources (no GMO’s, no petroleum based fertizers used to grow the plant or feed the animal, no artificial pesticides, animals raised outdoors with lots of room to roam and exposure to natural sunlight.)
      The saturated fats I make an effort to consume are the following:
      Organic Raw Extra Virgin Coconut Oil
      Organic Butter (if available, made from raw milk)
      Sustainably farmed or organic avocados
      Organic egg yolks (I have a safe source of eggs from a farmer I know. So I consume my whole eggs raw 6 out of 7 days per week, one day I fry them in organic butter, sunnyside up, just for the taste.)
      I too followed the conventionally held belief that all saturated fats are bad. But a nutritionist convinced me to look into the raw coconut oil. I searched the web, and later tried it for myself. Now I have at least one tablespoon per day before a meal. Melts in my mouth like butter.
      I sincerely hope you look into these suggestions. I guarantee you will never hear them from General Mills, Kraft foods, or you conventional doctor. But if you do your own research, you will find that they are the ones who are behind the times.
      Best Regards,
      Greg

  • R V DiBella

    I use skim milk in my coffee……and nothing in my herbal teas. And probably will continue to use the skim milk in my coffee……whatever fat is in there is negligible…..as far as I am concerned.

    • ds

      the fat is not the health problem, it is the casein in the milk that is bad for you and has been shown to cause cancer.
      Nutritionists say that we do not need to supplement protein only vitamins and minerals.

      • Anderson Patricia

        Sooo? Have some pastured cream with your coffee and avoid all the weird stuff such as milk sugar, casein, calcium and IGF promoting stuff. Apparently calcium in dairy does not do a body good from what I have read. We are back to traditional coffee and cream!
        Nice! I like how our not reductionist forbears had this figured out anyway! Tell me if I have this right? I like to default to however we might have evolved to eat and drink whenever things get nebulous.

  • Elspeth

    I’m not about to give up my milk in coffee or tea. Good grief, if you can’t ENJOY what you eat or drink, what’s the point? I do agree, though that cutting out processed foods and excessive consumption of sugar, and adding more fresh veggies and fruit to our diets is a worthwhile goal.

  • Mark Thorson

    The component of coffee that is beneficial for Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) is not polyphenols. It is caffeine. Absorption of caffeine is not affected by cream or sugar, so feel free to drink your coffee any way you like, if you want the benefits against AD.
    Medium-size prospective cohort study shows caffeine intake (as measured in the blood) is associated with reduced risk of progressing from mild cognitive impairment to dementia:
    http://health.usf.edu/nocms/publicaffairs/now/pdfs/JAD111781.pdf
    Large, long-term retrospective cohort study finds coffee intake (as reported by subjects) is associated with lower risk of developing dementia and AD:
    http://www.federacioncafe.com/Documentos/CafeYSalud/CafeYParkinson/Journal%2520Alzheimers09.pdf
    Meta-analysis of nine studies finds that mid-life coffee/caffeine intake is protective against dementia/AD in late life, with the greatest effect at 3 to 5 daily cups of coffee:
    http://www.researchgate.net/publication/41562356_Caffeine_as_a_protective_factor_in_dementia_and_Alzheimer's_disease/file/d912f5100f5d1ec4be.pdf
    Caffeine seems to raise intracellular cyclic GMP (cGMP) by inhibiting phosphodiesterase, which converts cyclic GMP into non-cyclic GMP (5′-GMP) in mice:
    http://www.researchgate.net/publication/6466349_Expression_of_aquaporin_water_channels_in_rat_taste_buds/file/3deec52a9ea6647157.pdf
    Phosphodiesterase inhibitors are suggested as useful targets for drug development against AD:
    http://pubmedcentralcanada.ca/pmcc/articles/PMC3503343/pdf/cn3000907.pdf
    Viagra (sildenafil) is a phosphodiesterase inhibitor with beneficial effects in a mouse model of AD:
    http://www.jneurosci.org/content/29/25/8075.full.pdf
    The beneficial effect of caffeine against AD appears to be from its inhibition of one or more phosphodiesterase enzymes.

  • ha ha, nice story, that is funny.
    when it comes to dairy and coffee and tea i am very interested. i really do enjoy my morning coffee and throughout the day i drink at least a cup of tea. i would hate to have all that good stuff go to waste because of the dairy i put in it. however, i have never been a very big fan of milk, i can take it or leave it, so i will leave it in the future, but the big question is butter. is butter the same as milk? i think we would benefit from further investigation on this subject. i will say this though: i learned the hard way that when i add milk or sugar to my coffee, i don’t feel the effects of it, which is the particular reason why i drink it, to wake me up. i have lately put a big chunk of butter in it though, and i feel great. very interesting.

  • Ellis Dunbar

    Good Morning
    My name is Ellis and I work with Ninja Goat Nutritionals. Once I read your article, I found great interest in some of your ingredients and knowledge about butter coffee. I would love to tell you about my business and how I make butter coffee.
    Ninja Goat Nutritionals makes a product called fatCoffee, which is a quick and easy way to make butter coffee anywhere, anytime- and it’s made with 100% grass fed-butter and organic coconut oil.
    Would you be willing to try fatCoffee and let me know what you think about it? I’d be happy to provide a sample, if you can send me your mailing address.
    Thanks for your time and hope to hear from you soon.

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