5

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Butter and Heavy Cream - What's the deal with Palmitic Acid and Myristic Acid? We've GOT to get this straight folks!

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created May 27, 2011 at 4:56 PM

I came on here to make a new question about butter and cream (actually "dairy" in general). So I did a search first like a usually do before posting a question.

This led me to the below 2 threads by Travis Culp and Todd, which I read through both entirely, including all comments.

I Think I May Have Figured Out Why Some of Us Have Really High LDL - Travis Culp

Got Some lab results back - Any suggestions? [Updated 5/10/11] Added VAP, Doc Worried - Todd

First... some interesting points about dairy and it's place in the Paleo world...

Who supports eating significant amounts of dairy, including butter and heavy cream and ghee?

Dr. Kurt Harris

Chris Masterjohn

Stephan Guyenet

Chris Kresser

Mark Sisson

Certainly the entire WAPF

They all know butter, especially grass fed butter, contains significant levels of palmitic and myristic acid. And from nearly every single thing I've read about this, that is perfectly fine, and in fact, there's quite a bit of research that has shown some strong positive benefits to myristic acid.

Are they all wrong? Have they all been terribly fooled and overlooked something critically important about how our bodies handle this food? Highly (very highly) unlikely.

Personally, since upping my butter and cream and ghee significantly, I have lost flab weight, gained significant muscle and strength, and I love food more now than ever before. However, my LDL has gone up too. Also, ROB mentioned in one of these threads that he felt a 'pain' near his heart on several occasions. I have felt something like that myself. I even made reference to this in Kamal's post about "What if we're all wrong?". Am I too proud, too high up the 'wrong ladder' to consider being 'wrong'? No way Jose. I'll ditch butter and cream faster than a Supra Turbo if I become of the mindset that it's no good. Life is too important.

But sometimes studying numbers can get a bit dizzying. Sometimes we forget that we shouldn't become slaves to what the numbers might represent. I don't think butter and cream are bad for humans to eat. It's pretty well shown at this point that there are many good reasons to consume both, so doing a complete elimination is not on the horizon for me any time soon. I don't want to unfairly give high quality dairy a sudden and possibly unjustified bad rap. I believe there is great value in it as a healthy, whole food.

I would submit this idea though. Perhaps the dose is important. What if we're just eating a bit too much? What if a good solution is to simply cut your dairy intake in half? (or whatever... you get the idea.. lower it significantly). Think about it. The vast majority of people feel that good butter and cream fell straight out of heaven. I know I sure do. So when we all learn that it's fair game to eat "as much as you like"... might we have taken that idea too far?

21fd060d0796fdb8a4a990441e08eae7

(24543)

on March 12, 2012
at 11:43 PM

Rich, I've been wanting to try that for a long time. Damn you for bringing it up again!

6714718e2245e5190017d643a7614157

on March 12, 2012
at 10:54 PM

Kamal, you haven't lived until you've eaten one of these: http://gawker.com/5829686/deep+fried-butter-on-a-stick-a-real-thing-you-can-eat-in-iowa

3c997ffae3db9464325b96979346d9e9

(1290)

on May 30, 2011
at 04:07 PM

Lots has been said on this site about the difference between light/fluffy LDL and small dense particle LDL I believe. If triglycerides are below 90mg/dl and HDL is high then virtually all the LDL should be the benign, fluffy form from what I've read.

Be1dbd31e4a3fccd4394494aa5db256d

(17969)

on May 28, 2011
at 02:04 AM

I never said that there was no way to get copper in a paleo diet. But many people don't eat liver and people who indeed pay more attention to their diets eat less nuts, seeds and avocados because of all of the omega-6. So like I said very clearly, it is possible to have a low copper intake on a paleo diet, and many people indeed do.

3e3b1b75cb414c5c3dbed53e3c42edfa

(220)

on May 28, 2011
at 01:05 AM

Nuts, seeds, and avocados have a lot of copper.

1bc18852894dad9d6dddfb3dfed49ab3

(341)

on May 27, 2011
at 07:52 PM

Liver has loads of copper. I think if liver is consumed once in a while copper deficiency is not an issue.

Medium avatar

(39821)

on May 27, 2011
at 07:18 PM

I think there's this myth that the average SAD-eater is deficient in saturated fat and has to eat more, in any form, as a result. The average American is eating loads of saturated fat all the time and has a sufficient cholesterol substrate for manufacture of sex hormones, vitamin D etc. The problem is that they have loads of seed oils n-6 on top of that that they need to pull out. Butter is nutritious and a good source of K-2 and so forth, but I think using butter to hit a k-2 target is ill-advised.

Af1d286f0fd5c3949f59b4edf4d892f5

(18472)

on May 27, 2011
at 07:13 PM

Travis - what do you make of the fact that all the people that I mentioned in my question (and so many more) are in full support of eating pasture butter? We all know about the acid profile of butter and that dairy can be insulinogenic, yet so many people support eating good quality dairy. Like I said in my question... same as you... I want the truth, regardless of which side it's on. Thanks for posting your thoughts.

Be1dbd31e4a3fccd4394494aa5db256d

(17969)

on May 27, 2011
at 07:07 PM

And actually come to think of it, it might be genetic. But yeah it's good to be concerned.

Be1dbd31e4a3fccd4394494aa5db256d

(17969)

on May 27, 2011
at 07:07 PM

I'm sure your LDL is pattern A. Even if it is pattern A it is correct to be concerned at very high LDL. Less correct to blame the substrate for the homeostatic problem.

Af1d286f0fd5c3949f59b4edf4d892f5

(18472)

on May 27, 2011
at 06:59 PM

@Stabby - Yah I wonder about the copper thing. My comments are all over that thread from PHD about copper, along with Travis. I've read Stephans post abotu Copper too. I may start a copper supp, but I am just about to get my VAP test done and I don't want to make any major changes until after I test. Thanks for the additional info.

Af1d286f0fd5c3949f59b4edf4d892f5

(18472)

on May 27, 2011
at 06:56 PM

Travis. What color was it? And was it a MKIII or MKIV?

Be1dbd31e4a3fccd4394494aa5db256d

(17969)

on May 27, 2011
at 06:38 PM

I should revise that and say that lacking sufficient thought isn't the same as thoughtless. In case there are any pedants around here who are going to stab me

Be1dbd31e4a3fccd4394494aa5db256d

(17969)

on May 27, 2011
at 06:37 PM

I should revise that and say that lacking thought isn't the same as thoughtless. In case there are any pedants around here who are going to stab me.

Medium avatar

(39821)

on May 27, 2011
at 06:28 PM

I stopped eating dairy, so I'll be content with wherever ruminant fat takes me, which I suspect will be below 200. 5 weeks of no butter took me from 391 to 323 with HDL increasing at the same time. I doubt that elevated LDL-C alone is enough to kill someone, but it doesn't seem ideal.

Be1dbd31e4a3fccd4394494aa5db256d

(17969)

on May 27, 2011
at 06:25 PM

Paleo diets tend to contain a lot of iron. Paleo diets lacking certain foods, particularly those based around muscle meat and dairy fat can be very low in copper. It is well-known that too much iron in the blood damages the heart. It is lesser known that a deficiency in copper damages the arteries. What I meant to say was that a paleo diet deficient in copper thus far has been lacking thought, as micronutrients are probably the most important part of a diet. Whether or not this is you, I don't know, but I do know that people eating paleo thoughtlessly run into problems.

21fd060d0796fdb8a4a990441e08eae7

(24543)

on May 27, 2011
at 06:22 PM

391, yikes! What's your target level?

6fa48935d439390e223b9a053a62c981

(1676)

on May 27, 2011
at 06:19 PM

I could not agree more with this, Kamal. Personally, I minimize my dairy intake but do not entirely avoid it. It's yummy.

Medium avatar

(39821)

on May 27, 2011
at 06:08 PM

I saw a stock supra turbo when I was in CA a few days ago...rarer than hen's teeth.

Af1d286f0fd5c3949f59b4edf4d892f5

(18472)

on May 27, 2011
at 05:57 PM

Stabby - would you expand on your comment about why you connect those together? And by the way... thoughtlessness doesn't produce long winded and tireless inquisitions directly questioning one's own actions for full critique in an open forum.

Af1d286f0fd5c3949f59b4edf4d892f5

(18472)

on May 27, 2011
at 05:53 PM

i think that was the boundless energy thread by stephen-aegis

Be1dbd31e4a3fccd4394494aa5db256d

(17969)

on May 27, 2011
at 05:28 PM

Pain in chest, eh? Be sure you're not on the copper deficiency, iron excess boat. Thoughtless paleo can be a ticket to this unpleasantness.

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4 Answers

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10
21fd060d0796fdb8a4a990441e08eae7

(24543)

on May 27, 2011
at 05:18 PM

Eating sticks of butter and drinking pints of heavy cream is no more "natural" than cooking with vegetable oil. (not that natural implies healthy) Paleo eaters seem to have a lower evidence threshold for things that paleo gurus support. Like you said, the dose makes the poison. I would imagine that no single fatty acid is going to kill you--keep in mind the plethora of fatty acids in our body and the wide variety of roles they play.

I love butter and cream, but don't eat it with the purpose of getting enough "good saturated fats". I eat it in order to avoid bad polyunsatured fats and to displace some sugar calories. Meat provides plenty of saturated fat without supplementing with tons of dairy fat.

There was a thread a while back saying something like "I just ate a stick of butter and I feel incredible!". Placebo at work?

6fa48935d439390e223b9a053a62c981

(1676)

on May 27, 2011
at 06:19 PM

I could not agree more with this, Kamal. Personally, I minimize my dairy intake but do not entirely avoid it. It's yummy.

Af1d286f0fd5c3949f59b4edf4d892f5

(18472)

on May 27, 2011
at 05:53 PM

i think that was the boundless energy thread by stephen-aegis

21fd060d0796fdb8a4a990441e08eae7

(24543)

on March 12, 2012
at 11:43 PM

Rich, I've been wanting to try that for a long time. Damn you for bringing it up again!

6714718e2245e5190017d643a7614157

on March 12, 2012
at 10:54 PM

Kamal, you haven't lived until you've eaten one of these: http://gawker.com/5829686/deep+fried-butter-on-a-stick-a-real-thing-you-can-eat-in-iowa

3
Be1dbd31e4a3fccd4394494aa5db256d

(17969)

on May 27, 2011
at 06:48 PM

The reason why I say that you might have low copper levels is that.

  1. Paleo diets can indeed be low in copper. High in zinc and iron and naturally low in copper, it is plausible.

  2. High LDL can be the result of a copper deficiency as Paul Jaminet illustrates http://perfecthealthdiet.com/?p=2547 Eating butter with damaged arteries will raise your LDL. I count it as a good thing since it is repairing the damage. The bad thing is that the damage is there in the first place.

  3. CHD and copper from Whole Health Sources. http://wholehealthsource.blogspot.com/2010/04/copper-and-cardiovascular-disease.html

That's my reasoning. Again, I don't know if this is you are not but it is my hypothesis, There are people who eat plenty of butter and have low LDL.

Be1dbd31e4a3fccd4394494aa5db256d

(17969)

on May 27, 2011
at 07:07 PM

I'm sure your LDL is pattern A. Even if it is pattern A it is correct to be concerned at very high LDL. Less correct to blame the substrate for the homeostatic problem.

1bc18852894dad9d6dddfb3dfed49ab3

(341)

on May 27, 2011
at 07:52 PM

Liver has loads of copper. I think if liver is consumed once in a while copper deficiency is not an issue.

Be1dbd31e4a3fccd4394494aa5db256d

(17969)

on May 28, 2011
at 02:04 AM

I never said that there was no way to get copper in a paleo diet. But many people don't eat liver and people who indeed pay more attention to their diets eat less nuts, seeds and avocados because of all of the omega-6. So like I said very clearly, it is possible to have a low copper intake on a paleo diet, and many people indeed do.

Af1d286f0fd5c3949f59b4edf4d892f5

(18472)

on May 27, 2011
at 06:59 PM

@Stabby - Yah I wonder about the copper thing. My comments are all over that thread from PHD about copper, along with Travis. I've read Stephans post abotu Copper too. I may start a copper supp, but I am just about to get my VAP test done and I don't want to make any major changes until after I test. Thanks for the additional info.

3e3b1b75cb414c5c3dbed53e3c42edfa

(220)

on May 28, 2011
at 01:05 AM

Nuts, seeds, and avocados have a lot of copper.

Be1dbd31e4a3fccd4394494aa5db256d

(17969)

on May 27, 2011
at 07:07 PM

And actually come to think of it, it might be genetic. But yeah it's good to be concerned.

3
Medium avatar

on May 27, 2011
at 06:02 PM

That myristic and palmitic acids raise LDL is indisputable. You can find a bunch of studies on Google Scholar that compare it to other fats. That coconut vs butter one I put in that other thread is really interesting and as I said, butter is twice as potent as an LDL-raiser compared to coconut oil. On top of that, there are plenty of anecdotes in the paleo community of people who were told that any amount of pasture butter is A-OK and the result was sky-high LDL. I've seen at least 10 of them on various sites.

If you check out the latest comments on that PHD thread about LDL that you posted in: http://perfecthealthdiet.com/?p=2547&cpage=1 You'll see that a fellow cut back on his butter and cream intake and dropped his LDL by 29% in 2 months. I had a similar reduction.

So, what I know is that more dairy fat = more LDL-C and that it can be reversed by cutting it out. I've personally witnessed it alongside many others.

What I don't know is if it actually matters. Massive amounts of butter are certainly not evolutionarily appropriate, but all of the constituent fatty acids occur in tallow, just in different ratios. Then again, we get linoleic acid in small amounts in ancestral diets.... I've seen a few animal studies that counter-intuitively showed that diet-induced hypercholesterolemia in rats and rabbits caused decreases in testosterone. You'd expect testosterone synthesis to be upregulated, but having LDL-C outside of a particular range leads to hypogonadism, probably because the lipoproteins are less able to dock with the leydig cells or offload their contents. I'll try to dig those studies up.

What troubles me about super-high LDL-C is not the lipid hypothesis, but things like this:

butter-and-heavy-cream---what's-the-deal-with-palmitic-acid-and-myristic-acid?-we've-got-to-get-this-straight-folks!

And that's only if you're around 200 mg/dl. If I plot my initial 391 on that chart, it's quite unnerving.

Medium avatar

(39821)

on May 27, 2011
at 06:28 PM

I stopped eating dairy, so I'll be content with wherever ruminant fat takes me, which I suspect will be below 200. 5 weeks of no butter took me from 391 to 323 with HDL increasing at the same time. I doubt that elevated LDL-C alone is enough to kill someone, but it doesn't seem ideal.

21fd060d0796fdb8a4a990441e08eae7

(24543)

on May 27, 2011
at 06:22 PM

391, yikes! What's your target level?

Af1d286f0fd5c3949f59b4edf4d892f5

(18472)

on May 27, 2011
at 07:13 PM

Travis - what do you make of the fact that all the people that I mentioned in my question (and so many more) are in full support of eating pasture butter? We all know about the acid profile of butter and that dairy can be insulinogenic, yet so many people support eating good quality dairy. Like I said in my question... same as you... I want the truth, regardless of which side it's on. Thanks for posting your thoughts.

Medium avatar

(39821)

on May 27, 2011
at 07:18 PM

I think there's this myth that the average SAD-eater is deficient in saturated fat and has to eat more, in any form, as a result. The average American is eating loads of saturated fat all the time and has a sufficient cholesterol substrate for manufacture of sex hormones, vitamin D etc. The problem is that they have loads of seed oils n-6 on top of that that they need to pull out. Butter is nutritious and a good source of K-2 and so forth, but I think using butter to hit a k-2 target is ill-advised.

3c997ffae3db9464325b96979346d9e9

(1290)

on May 30, 2011
at 04:07 PM

Lots has been said on this site about the difference between light/fluffy LDL and small dense particle LDL I believe. If triglycerides are below 90mg/dl and HDL is high then virtually all the LDL should be the benign, fluffy form from what I've read.

1
64433a05384cd9717c1aa6bf7e98b661

(15236)

on May 27, 2011
at 08:04 PM

Something else that may make a difference is raw grass-fed butter vs pasteurized grass fed butter.

Organic valley and kerrygold both offere pasteurized grass fed butter that is tasty, but I find that it makes me a bit'phlegmy' and feel not as good in general.

Mainly I use grass fed raw cultured butter, and I can eat a ton of it with no ill effects.

Because I use both (pastuerized stuff for cooking) its hard to tell what its doing to my LDL but I wouldn't be surprised if there is a difference. My total cholesterol is 241, LDL 138, HDL 93, triglycerides 49.

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