3 Potential Downsides of Bulletproof Coffee
By Kris Gunnars, BSc
Bulletproof coffee is a high-calorie coffee drink intended to replace breakfast.
It consists of 2 cups (470 ml) of coffee, 2 tablespoons (28 grams) of grass-fed, unsalted butter and 1–2 tablespoons (15–30 ml) of MCT oil mixed in a blender.
It was originally promoted by Dave Asprey, the creator of the Bulletproof Diet. The coffee produced and marketed by Asprey's company is supposedly free of mycotoxins. However, there's no evidence that this is the case.
Bulletproof coffee has become increasingly popular — especially among paleo or low-carb dieters.
Although drinking Bulletproof coffee on occasion is probably harmless, it's not advisable to make it a routine.
Here are 3 potential downsides of Bulletproof coffee.
1. Low in Nutrients
Asprey and other promoters recommend that you consume Bulletproof coffee instead of breakfast each morning.
Although Bulletproof coffee provides plenty of fat — which reduces your appetite and gives you energy — it's lacking in several nutrients.
By drinking Bulletproof coffee, you are effectively replacing a nutritious meal with a poor substitute.
While grass-fed butter contains some CLA, butyrate and vitamins A and K2, MCT oil is a refined and processed fat with virtually no essential nutrients.
If you eat three meals per day, replacing breakfast with Bulletproof coffee will likely reduce your total nutrient load by about a third.
Promoters of Bulletproof coffee recommend that you drink it instead of eating breakfast. However, doing so will significantly reduce the total nutrient load of your diet.
2. High in Saturated Fat
Bulletproof coffee is very high in saturated fat.
While the health effects of saturated fats are controversial, many health professionals believe that high intake is a major risk factor for several diseases and should be avoided (1).
Nevertheless, most official dietary guidelines and health authorities advise people to limit their intake.
Although saturated fat can be a part of a healthy diet when consumed in reasonable amounts, it may be harmful in massive doses.
If you are worried about saturated fat or high cholesterol levels, consider limiting your intake of Bulletproof coffee — or avoiding it altogether.
Bulletproof coffee is high in saturated fat. Although its health effects are highly controversial and not firmly established, official guidelines still recommend limiting saturated fat intake.
3. May Raise Your Cholesterol Levels
Many studies have been conducted on low-carb and ketogenic diets, which are often high in fat — and may include Bulletproof coffee.
Most of this research confirms that these diets do not increase your levels of total and LDL (bad) cholesterol — at least on average (3).
Among other benefits, your triglycerides and weight drop while your HDL (good) cholesterol goes up (4).
For those who have cholesterol problems while on a low-carb or ketogenic diet, the first thing to do is to avoid excessive saturated fat intake. This includes Bulletproof coffee.
Ketogenic diets high in saturated fat may increase cholesterol levels and other heart disease risk factors in some people. For those who have elevated levels, it's best to avoid Bulletproof coffee.
Should Anyone Drink Bulletproof Coffee?
All things considered, Bulletproof coffee can work for some people — especially those following a ketogenic diet who don't have elevated cholesterol levels.
When consumed alongside a healthy diet, Bulletproof coffee may help you lose weight and increase your energy levels.
If you find that this morning drink improves your well-being and quality of life, perhaps it's worth the decreased nutrient load.
Just to be on the safe side, anyone who drinks Bulletproof coffee regularly should have their blood markers measured to make sure you're not raising your risk of heart disease and other conditions.
Bulletproof coffee may be perfectly healthy for some individuals, as long as you consume it as part of a balanced diet and don't have elevated cholesterol levels. It may be especially appealing for those on keto diets.
The Bottom Line
Bulletproof coffee is a high-fat coffee drink intended as a breakfast replacement. It's popular with people who follow a ketogenic diet.
While it's filling and energy-inducing, it comes with several potential downsides — including reduced overall nutrient intake, increased cholesterol, and high levels of saturated fat.
Still, Bulletproof coffee may be perfectly safe for those who don't have elevated cholesterol levels, as well as those who follow a low-carb or ketogenic diet.
If you're interested in trying Bulletproof coffee, it may be best to consult with your healthcare provider to get your blood markers checked.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Healthline.
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Kevin T. Smiley
When hurricanes and other extreme storms unleash downpours like Tropical Storm Beta has been doing in the South, the floodwater doesn't always stay within the government's flood risk zones.
New research suggests that nearly twice as many properties are at risk from a 100-year flood today than the Federal Emergency Management Agency's flood maps indicate.
Flooding Outside the Zones<p>About <a href="https://furmancenter.org/files/Floodplain_PopulationBrief_12DEC2017.pdf" target="_blank">15 million</a> Americans live in FEMA's current 100-year flood zones. The designation warns them that their properties face a 1% risk of flooding in any given year. They must obtain flood insurance if they want a federally ensured loan – insurance that helps them recover from flooding.</p><p>In Greater Houston, however, <a href="https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1539-6924.2012.01840.x" target="_blank">47% of claims</a> made to FEMA across three decades before Hurricane Harvey were outside of the 100-year flood zones. Harris County, recognizing that FEMA flood maps don't capture the full risk, now <a href="https://www.hcfcd.org/floodinsurance" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">recommends that every household</a> in Houston and the rest of the county have flood insurance.</p><p>New risk models point to a similar conclusion: Flood risk in these areas outstrips expectations in the current FEMA flood maps.</p><p>One of those models, from the <a href="https://firststreet.org/flood-lab/research/2020-national-flood-risk-assessment-highlights/" target="_blank">First Street Foundation</a>, estimates that the number of properties at risk in a 100-year storm is 1.7 times higher than the FEMA maps suggest. Other <a href="https://doi.org/10.1088/1748-9326/aaac65" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">researchers</a> find an even higher margin, with 2.6 to 3.1 times more people exposed to serious flooding in a 100-year storm than FEMA estimates.</p>
What FEMA’s Flood Maps Miss<p>Understanding why areas outside the 100-year flood zones are flooding more often than the FEMA maps suggest involves larger social and environmental issues. Three reasons stand out.</p><p>First, some places rely on relatively old FEMA maps that don't account for recent urbanization.</p><p>Urbanization matters because impervious surfaces – think pavement and buildings – are not effective sponges like natural landscapes can be. Moreover, the process for updating floodplain maps is locally variable and can take years to complete. Famously, New York City was updating its maps when Hurricane Sandy hit in 2012 but hadn't finished, meaning flood maps in effect <a href="https://projects.propublica.org/nyc-flood/" target="_blank">were from 1983</a>. FEMA is required to assess whether updates are needed every five years, but the <a href="https://www.fema.gov/cis/nation.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">majority of maps</a> <a href="https://www.oig.dhs.gov/sites/default/files/assets/2017/OIG-17-110-Sep17.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">are older</a>.</p><p>Second, binary thinking can lead people to an underaccounting of risk, and that can mean communities fail to take steps that could protect a neighborhood from flooding. The logic goes: if I'm not in the 100-year floodplain, then I'm not at risk. Risk perception <a href="https://doi.org/10.1088/1748-9326/ab195a" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">research</a> backs this up. FEMA-delineated flood zones are the major factor shaping flood mitigation behaviors.</p><p>Third, the era of climate change scuttles conventional assumptions.</p><p>As the planet warms, extreme storms are becoming <a href="https://nca2018.globalchange.gov/" target="_blank">more common and severe</a>. If greenhouse gas emissions continue to increase at a high rate, computer models suggest that the chances of a severe storm dropping 20 inches of rain on Texas in any given year will increase from about 1% at the end of the last century to 18% at the end of this one, a chance of <a href="https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1716222114" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">once every 5.5 years</a>. So far, <a href="https://www.rstreet.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/195.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">FEMA hasn't taken into account the impact climate change is having</a> on extreme weather and sea level rise.</p>
Racial Disparities in Flooding Outside the Zones<p>So, who is at risk?</p><p>Years of research and evidence from storms have highlighted social inequalities in areas with a high risk of flooding. But most local governments have less understanding of the social and demographic composition of communities that experience flood impacts outside of flood zones.</p><p>In analyzing the damage from Hurricane Harvey in the Houston area, I found that <a href="https://doi.org/10.1088/1748-9326/aba0fe" target="_blank">Black and Hispanic residents disproportionately experienced flooding</a> in areas beyond FEMA's 100-year flood zones.</p><p>With the majority of flooding from Hurricane Harvey occurring outside of 100-year flood zones, this meant that the overall impact of Harvey was racially unequal too.</p><p>Research into where flooding occurs in Baltimore, Chicago and Phoenix points to some of the potential causes. <a href="https://www.nap.edu/read/25381/chapter/4#16" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">In Baltimore and Chicago</a>, for example, aging storm and sewer infrastructure, poor construction and insufficient efforts to mitigate flooding are part of the flooding problem in some predominantly Black neighborhoods.</p>
What Can Be Done About It<p>Better accounting for those three reasons could substantively improve risk assessments and help cities prioritize infrastructure improvements and flood mitigation projects in these at-risk neighborhoods.</p><p>For example, First Street Foundation's risk maps account for <a href="https://firststreet.org/flood-lab/research/flood-model-methodology_overview/" target="_blank">climate change</a> and present <a href="https://floodfactor.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">ratings</a> on a scale from 1 to 10. FEMA, which works with communities to update flood maps, is <a href="https://www.fema.gov/media-library-data/1521054297905-ca85d066dddb84c975b165db653c9049/TMAC_2017_Annual_Report_Final508(v8)_03-12-2018.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">exploring rating systems</a>. And the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine recently <a href="https://www.nationalacademies.org/news/2019/03/new-report-calls-for-different-approaches-to-predict-and-understand-urban-flooding" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">called for a new generation of flood maps</a> that takes climate change into account.</p><p>Including recent urbanization in those assessments will matter too, especially in fast-growing cities like Houston, where <a href="https://authors.elsevier.com/a/1boBRyDvMFW6W" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">386 new square miles</a> of impervious surfaces were created in the last 20 years. That's greater than the land area of New York City. New construction in one area can also <a href="https://scalawagmagazine.org/2018/01/city-in-a-swamp-as-houston-booms-its-flood-problems-are-only-getting-worse/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">impact older neighborhoods downhill</a> during a flood, as some Houston communities discovered in Hurricane Harvey.</p><p>Improving risk assessments is needed not just to better prepare communities for major flood events, but also to prevent racial inequalities – in housing and beyond – from <a href="https://www.npr.org/2019/03/05/688786177/how-federal-disaster-money-favors-the-rich" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">growing</a> after the unequal impacts of disasters.</p>
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