Greg’s Butter Experiment: Did Butter Replaces Statins For Him?

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Statins are one of the most used drugs in the history of human existence.  In 2008, $12.4 billion dollars worth of Lipitor was sold. In 2000, almost half of all patients with dyslipidemia (bad blood results) were taking a statin (this is despite a lack of clinical trials showing they help).

If you’ve been reading the blog for any length of time, you’ve probably heard me talk about the perks of quality fats – or at least grass-fed butter – before.

We’ll be writing more about statins in the future, but this article is going to talk about one man’s experience with an unlikely food: butter.

Greg’s Butter Experiment

A New York Lawyer named Greg decided to run an n=1 experiment.  He started eating a half stick (56 grams) of butter a day to lower his cholesterol.  He was careful and precise with his methods and even conducted a small statistical analysis of the results.  I first learned of his experiment when Seth Roberts posted it on his blog.

Seth and I have been eating a stick of butter a day for quite some time – in my case I’ve been doing it since 2005.  Greg took it a step further with his 1000-calorie omelet:

“In January I added half a stick of butter (about 57 grams) to my morning omelet. I first got this idea from Seth Roberts, who reportedly has been eating half a stick of butter per day for some time in order to increase his mental performance.  Seth believes butter has been good for his heart. Dave Asprey also recommends eating lots of butter for brain health, among other reasons. My omelet consists of four pastured eggs, half a stick of Kerrygold Irish butter, and three tablespoons of coconut oil.  That’s 1,076 calories, 110 grams of fat (75 grams from saturated fat) and 865mg of cholesterol. My diet otherwise stayed the same, though I was usually eating smaller portions of everything else.”

Greg tracked his cholesterol levels over time, and this is what happened:

  • HDL (“good”) cholesterol went up by 19%
  • Non-HDL cholesterol went down by 25%.

As a good scientist, Greg was careful to interpret the results with skepticism:

“I should point out that, for a variety of reasons, these are not high quality statistics. First of all, I have no formal training in statistics. Given that some data points were taken fairly close together in time, there is likely some serial correlation between measurements. I also made no particular effort to control for other variables. Finally, these results apply to me. There may well be people who respond differently and for whom butter is unhealthy. As with anything, it is always advisable to test things for yourself. So take this with a grain of salt. Or half a stick of butter, if you prefer.”

This isn’t as surprising as it seems.  A Medical Research Council survey showed that men eating butter had a 50% reduced risk of developing heart disease compared to those using margarine.

Great researchers like Sally Fallon, Chris Masterjohn, and Stephan Guyenet have written extensively about the benefits of butter, especially when it comes to heart health. I believe that butyric acid from butter is one of the major reasons it achieves this effect.  This article cites the effects of these so-called “heart healthy” polyunsaturated fats,

The first randomized, controlled trial of dietary fat substitution was published in 1965. Substitution of corn oil for animal fat and carbohydrate doubled the number of major cardiac events. The results were not quite statistically significant, meaning there was a slight possibility they were due to chance. The researchers concluded “that under the circumstances of this trial corn oil cannot be recommended as a treatment of ischaemic heart disease. It is most unlikely to be beneficial, and it is possibly harmful.

A second trial found that replacing animal fats with polyunsaturated vegetable oils increased mortality by 39 percent. Rather than considering the possibility that the lipid hypothesis might be false, the investigators concluded that “men who have had myocardial infarction are not a good choice for testing the lipid hypothesis.”

Three other such trials found either no effect, or a small increase in mortality in the group consuming vegetable oil, which was not statistically significant.

The longest study on the effect of vegetable oil ever conducted was the Wadsworth Veterans Administration Hospital Study. The researchers randomized over four hundred men who were long-term inpatients to one of two dining halls. One hall used butter and the other used a mix of vegetable oils. The study was double-blinded and lasted over eight years. The researchers took care not to reuse the vegetable oil after cooking but took no such precautions with the butter, resulting in butter that was very deficient in vitamin E. There were also twice as many heavy smokers and 60 percent more moderate smokers in the butter group. The group consuming butter had 50 percent more cardiovascular deaths. The group consuming vegetable oil, however, had more atherosclerosis than the control group and in the last few years of the study began experiencing a marked increase in the risk of cancer. Total mortality was slightly higher among those consuming vegetable oil, but the difference was not statistically significant.”

Don’t Forget About Cholesterol

Chris Masterjohn has contributed an extensive amount of research on cholesterol, one of the most misunderstood chemical compounds in science today.  For decades now we have been told that cholesterol is bad and it will give you a heart attack but the opposite is actually true.  Cholesterol is good, it helps brain function, and it will increase HDL and reduce LDL, which decrease your chance of a heart attack.

If you simply google “benefits of cholesterol” you will run into a tidal wave of important information that most people don’t even know of, and make sure to check out the Bulletproof Radio episodes with Stephanie Seneff or Chris Masterjohn.

That said, a larger sample size would be nice (and there’s nothing wrong with trying it).  Here is the recipe for Greg’s 1000-calorie omelet, if you want to give this experiment a try:

  • 4 pastured eggs.
  • 56 grams of Kerrygold butter.
  • 42 grams of coconut oil.

Let us know the results in the comments section of this post, or (even better) on the Bulletproof Forum.

In the meantime, I’m going to eat more butter. 🙂


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By Dave Asprey

  • Rory

    I do similar but mix a bit of coconut milk into the eggs and then toss an avocado and 4-6 pieces of bacon into the fold, just long enough to get hot.

  • Jake

    I discovered cultured grass fed ghee at AHS 2012. Because it is cultured it is high in Vitamin K2 much like natto is, It is more buttery tasting than butter. Because we both find milk protein iinflammatory my wife and I are now using this ghee instead of butter.

    You should give it a try.

  • Patrick

    I love the Kerry Gold and have been trying the bullet proof coffee for about 2 months. I do have a question though when they state eating a 1/2 stick of butter, the Kerry gold I purchase comes in a small brick looks to be about 2-3 traditional sticks in size. People are not eating 1/2 of the these bricks are they???

    • I have about 1/2+ of a kerrygold brick every morning (two cups of coffee, 1/4-1/3 in each cup.) I believe they do mean 1/4 of a brick though which would be about 56 grams.

  • matt

    I went decades with eating egg white omelets using spray butter… About 2 months ago I switched to butter after finding this blog, plus a few other paleo blogs…

    What a difference… I wake up earlier now just to have a coffee with 2 tbs butter + 1 tbs MCT oil, blended. Then if I’m hungry I melt another 2 tbs butter, throw in a lot of spinach, bacon, chives, and 3 whole eggs.

    I feel better and look better. It’s life changing

  • Ashley North

    *Singing* “Eggs, Kerry Gold butter, coconut oil…..These are a few of my favorite things…”

  • Anne

    Hello, your Bulletproof coffee is the object of heated controversies and debates in the Swedish low-carb society at the moment:
    A Swedish nutritionist and famous low-carber claims that drinking your coffee leads to leptine resistance (or at least affects one’s leptin negatively). She claims that eating/drinking more than 70 grams of fat in one meal does that, since it’s not natural for humans, she argues (it’s “overeating” she claims). She also argues it affects the body’s CCK-balance negatively, and thus lead to weight-gain in the long run.
    What is your comment to this?

    (Ps. I think she’s wrong!)

  • Debbie

    what else did the diet consist of daily? the omelet and ??? I think this would be good to know for duplication of results. thank you.

  • DailySuicide

    Might want to read the follow-up post that states, ”
    The HDL remains elevated from before, but non-HDL readings are consistent with my average numbers over the past three years or so. My working hypothesis at this point is that the change in non-HDL I observed originally was a temporary disturbance of homeostasis.”

  • KMegafauna

    Hi Dave, thanks for the link! A commenter already pointed out that my drop in non-HDL was apparently temporary. The HDL increase held up, so there have been only positive changes observed so far from this intervention.

    This is all in the context of a fairly low carb diet — basically eggs, meat, fish, vegetables, chocolate, coffee and butter — at around 50 grams of carbs per day. Not sure this would work with higher carbs (or for anyone other than me) but I’ll leave that up to others to confirm or refute.

    Most tangible benefit so far? That stick of butter helped me add 45 pounds to my max deadlift in the last three months. I otherwise find it difficult to take in the 3500-4000 calories I need per day. I also get to enjoy such delicacies as bulletproof mussels, butter-poached salmon and butter/spinach soup. (while the daily omelette has crept up to 1,200 calories…)

  • Anne

    Hello, a Swedish nutritionist and famous low-carber claims that drinking your coffee leads to leptine resistance (or at least affects one’s leptin negative). She claims that eating more than 70 grams of fat in one meal does that, since it’s not natural for humans (she argues).
    What is your comment to this?

    • Gary Meadows

      My comment is that this is all post-Atkins hogwash. Eating that much saturated fat is never a good thing for you long term. Now is butter better than Margarine, YES! But, butter should not be eaten in such excess quantities unless you have a robust exercise routine to help burn off all of those extra fats you are ingesting.

      • The idea of ‘burning off” calories/energy is something you might enjoy reading about, for the simplistic and moralistic notion is false. There is more to the kinds of fats, and other facets of cell function regarding toxicities resulting in inability to metabolise properly – particularly sugars. Scientists use the term ‘myth’ for falsehood, but I feel more that certain ideas become ‘consensual scientific opinion’ and then become hard to shift even when actual science discredits them. The pharma lobby also has something to do with it!

  • Tried making the omelet. I didn’t go so well, most of the butter and coconut oil separated from the eggs and ended up as a fat liquid at the bottom of the pan when the omelet was done.

    But the omelet was delicious 🙂

    Have you tried making the omelet? What did you do with the butter and coconut oil, so it didn’t separate from the eggs?


    • KMegafauna

      I actually don’t cook the butter with the omelet any more since it did tend to come out a bit soupy. I cook it in the coconut oil and just eat the butter side by side.

    • Steve Brown

      use a blender to emulsify, just like with bp coffee

    • USN

      throw in a table spoon of oatmeal……

  • Sean

    Your thoughts? “He Shou Wu extract has been shown to have a
    significant inhibitory effect on the formation of oxidized lipids.”

  • Pingback: Catastrophe Alert: Looming Butter Shortage Threatens Holiday Season()

  • GonnaClogYourArteries

    “I have no formal training in statistics.”

  • Benji

    Seth Roberts (the guy in the article who ate half a stick of butter each day) dropped dead this year from coronary artery disease

    • Viengvilay TheMagnificant Xaya

      Seth Roberts died because he invented the Shangri-La diet that allowed you to eat anything you want as long you ate unflavored food in between meals that lowers the “set point,” this even included unflavored sugar water. Yeah that’s healthy, pour some table sugar into water and drink it. He didn’t die because of butter. Don’t be misinformed or spread disinformation.

      • Carolyn Bryant Schaub

        You honestly believe this? The official cause of death: Occlusive coronary artery disease” and “Other significant conditions: cardiomegaly.” Those conditions have bNOTHING to do with unflavored food and sugar water and EVERYTHING to do with huge amounts of saturated fat. How about some real science and facts?

        • John Stahl IV

          PLEASE I BEG OF YOU, STOP SPREADING MISINFORMATION. SATURATED FAT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH HEART DISEASE! Many of us have long been told that saturated fat, the type found in meat, butter and cheese, causes heart disease. But a large and exhaustive new analysis by a team of international scientists found no evidence that eating saturated fat increased heart attacks and other cardiac events.

        • TV53

          Good luck with that. Say hi to Seth.

        • John Stahl IV

          I follow a naturopatchic diet, not the shangri la or whatever it was. My only point is exactly what i posted, Research. “a team of international scientists found no evidence that eating saturated fat increased heart attacks and other cardiac events.” NO EVIDENCE saturated fat increases heart attacks.

        • TV53

          That study ignored differences between countries and only looked at differences within countries even though country differences clearly show an effect. They also normalized against foods that contain cholesterol, which effectively cancels out the effect of saturated fat since the two come together. Hard to eat a cheeseburger and not consume both cholesterol and sat fat. That’s like canceling out cigarette intake to measure the effects of nicotine. Insane and yet the press takes the bait. This is research at its worst. To believe this bogus piece of drivel and ignore the hundreds of other research reports is wishful thinking at best. Seth Roberts found out the hard way that eating butter every day doesn’t exactly protect you from heart disease. Rising HDL is certainly no guarantee. Look at the research on HDL and you’ll see that it is often not predictive at all, and there is good research showing some HDL is atherogenic itself.

    • Steve

      Yes, this really concerns me… You don’t get clogged arteries overnight.

  • JustSayin’

    I am definitely pro butter, eggs, natural fats etc. but IMO that omelette sounds disgusting. I think a better approach would be to eat natural, unprocessed foods and add fat and (natural) salt to taste. Don’t eat half a stick of butter at one sitting unless you enjoy it.

  • Timothy Jordan

    I took about a tablespoon (not teaspoon) and blended it with my coffee for three months and based on my blood tests the doctor took me off Lipitor and said my cholesterol level was outstanding! Very happy! I read about it here. Your blog is changing lives for the better, thank you!

    • Timothy Jordan

      I used the salted kelly gold from walmart, now they have unsalted. I also used about a teaspoon of coconut oil that I purchased from walmart. I ground my beans up and then put in my little kureg cup. Ran the water through about 5 times, added half and half (about 1/8th a cup) and used coconut sugar (which makes it sweet and adds sort of a caramel taste) I put all this in my vitamix chef blender (200$ on ebay, best thing I ever bought, had it 15 years) then blended it up. Sometimes I would put in about a teaspoon of cinnamon. drank it almost everyday for 3 months.

  • Christopher Stronski

    So you don’t accept the use of statins because of a lack of clinical trials showing benefits but you are recommending a butter diet based on one person and no clinical trials or research into using butter to reduce cholesterol. And what would be the benefit of lowering bad cholesterol while raising good cholesterol. If a cholesterol level didn’t provide any benefits from the use of a statin then why would it make any difference in this case?

    • Well statins are crap. most people get some kind of side effect or problems from statins and they have to stop using after a few years. 18 out of a 1000 (people with high risk of heart disease) actually benefit from statins, so, it’s a joke that doctors still recommend them. High Cholesterol is just a symptom, not the actual problem.