Is Butter Good Or Bad For Your Cholesterol?

If you're trying to follow a heart-healthy diet, a new study suggests that butter is not processed and metabolized like other sources...

Welcome to the positive corner of the internet. Every weekday, we make sense of the confusing world of wellness by analyzing the headlines, simplifying the latest research, and offering quick tips designed to make you healthier in less than 5 minutes. If you were forwarded this message, you can get the free daily email here.

Today’s Health Upgrade

  • Hold the butter

  • Can low testosterone reduce your lifespan?

  • A better way to build your biceps

Arnold’s Podcast

Want more stories from Arnold? Every day, Arnold’s Pump Club Podcast opens with a story, perspective, and wisdom from Arnold that you won’t find in the newsletter. And, you’ll hear a recap of the day’s items. You can subscribe on Apple, Spotify, Google, or wherever you listen to podcasts.

Hold The Butter…

Several years ago, butter was finding it’s way into every meal — and even your coffee. But it appears the butter craze went a little too far.

A new study found that butter is not as heart-healthy as other dairy sources — and could increase your risk for heart problems.

Prior studies suggest that not all sources of fat are equal. For example, clinical trials found that full-fat dairy products do not increase cholesterol levels compared to lower-fat dairy products despite the difference in saturated fat. And yet, prior research also found that butter increases LDL-C cholesterol more than all other solid fats and oils. 

So, researchers wanted to see what happens when you compare dairy intake with and without butter. Participants ate either full-fat yogurt or low-fat yogurt with butter added. Both groups ate the same amount of total fat and saturated fat, but consumed it from different sources. 

Adding the butter significantly increased ApoB, a cholesterol-carrying protein that increases the risk of heart disease.

To be clear, the participants consumed similar overall diets but had differences in blood lipids at the end of the study.

Researchers believe it’s because the process of making butter destroys the milk fat globule membrane or MFGM. This membrane, which is well-maintained when making cheese and yogurt, structures the fatty acids in dairy in a way believed to aid in absorption and metabolism.

This doesn’t mean you can never have butter. However, it does suggest that adding butter under the health halo that it’s healthy is misleading. In general, research suggests that increasing saturated fat in your diet leads to higher LDL-C and ApoB levels, which are linked to higher cardiovascular risk. However, this study suggests that the type of saturated fat you eat can significantly affect your blood and overall health. 

If you want to know your risk, we recommend testing your blood to understand your ApoB and LDL levels. Inside Tracker is our favorite way to get tested without the inconvenience of scheduling a trip to your doctor. They’ve made it easier to get your blood checked, understand what’s happening in your body, and get recommendations to improve your health outcomes. They just lowered their prices to make testing even more affordable. As a member of the positive corner of the internet, you also get an additional 10% OFF.

Can Low Testosterone Reduce Your Lifespan?

Most people focus on the role of testosterone in muscle gain, sex drive, and energy levels, but there might be a more significant concern if you see a decrease in your T.

A new study suggests that lower testosterone is associated with a higher risk of death and cardiovascular disease.

While the headlines might infer it’s time we become a testosterone nation, the study is a warning about the domino effect of poor lifestyle behaviors. 

The research analyzed 11 cohort studies on more than 24,000 men from all over the world. They found that men with testosterone levels below 7.4nmol/L (213 ng/DL), luteinizing hormone (LH) concentrations above 10 IU/L, and estradiol concentrations below 5.1 pmol/L had a higher risk of mortality. These can serve as a baseline for when your levels are too low, and your body is at risk. (InsiderTracker is a great tool for checking hormone levels, too.) 

But, the study was not designed to explain why men had low testosterone. In other words, it’s easy to focus on low testosterone, but the correlation with a higher risk of death could be more about the behaviors that lower T in the first place. 

Research suggests your low testosterone is likely caused by poor sleep (even one week of sleep deprivation can lower testosterone), high stress, a bad diet, too much belly fat, and a lack of muscle. And it’s worth your time to make corrections because low T is associated with loss of bone density, loss of muscle mass, weight gain, fatigue, and depression.

If you are suffering from low testosterone, your first steps should be improving lifestyle behaviors:

  1. Get at least 6 hours of sleep every night.

  2. Resistance training 2-3 times per week.

  3. Getting daily movement outside of the gym.

  4. Social connection or other interaction that decreases stress.

  5. Eating a nutrient-dense diet or limiting ultra-processed foods.

Start with any (or all) of the behaviors above, and it could lead to a significant boost in testosterone levels. 

How To Build Better Biceps

There are endless exercises to help you build bigger arms, but a new study suggests not all movements are created equal. 

Recent research suggests that preacher curls are more effective at building bigger biceps than incline dumbbell curls. 

Increasing the size of your muscles is a matter of progressive overload, training through a full range of motion — a complete stretch and a flex — and loading the muscle where it is most challenged and has leverage. It’s the last one that most people often overlook when selecting exercises.

At the bottom of the incline curl, even though your muscle is stretched, the muscle is not under as much tension. On the other hand, with preacher curls, your bicep is completely loaded in the stretched position, which is why the preacher curl led to more growth.

If you want to grow your biceps —  or any muscle — you need to figure out where your muscles achieve peak force and how to maximize leverage.

It’s a reminder that while longer lengths — a stretch — are important for growth, if you don’t have enough tension when the muscle is stretched, you’re limiting how much it can grow.

Both exercises are still great and can be incorporated into your workouts. But the preacher curl will be hard to top if you’re limiting your exercises and focusing on the biggest bang for your buck. And it just happens to be one of Arnold’s favorite biceps exercises.

Instagram post by @schwarzenegger

Publisher: Arnold Schwarzenegger

Editors-in-chief: Adam Bornstein and Daniel Ketchell