Ghee, a clarified butter with roots in ancient India, has received increasing attention due to claims of various health benefits.
Not least, thanks to the ketogenic diet, awareness of high-quality fats such as ghee and their effects on health and weight loss is growing.
Nevertheless, only a few people know what ghee butter is and which variety of benefits ghee butter offers.
In this article, you will learn precisely what ghee is, how it is made, how it differs from regular butter, and what health benefits it can offer.
Table of Contents:
- What Is Ghee?
- Is Ghee Actually Healthier than Butter?
- Health Benefits of Ghee Butter
- The Bottom Line
What Is Ghee?
Ghee has been used for centuries as a kind of clarified butter. Therefore, it’s a staple in Indian cuisine. Moreover, you can find ghee butter in Southeast Asian and Mediterranean cuisine.
Historically, it has been used in Ayurvedic healing rituals and religious ceremonies. The history of the “elixir of the gods” goes back 4000 years. Not least because of its easy storage, ghee has not lost popularity over this period.
With coconut oil, ghee was once the traditional fat for frying and deep-frying in India. Since ghee fat contains almost no unsaturated fatty acids that are vulnerable to damage by heat, it is suitable for frying.
Ghee is made of butter and 100% pure fat. It is the ultra-clarified butter of Ayurveda.
Is Ghee Actually Healthier than Butter?
Ghee is healthier than butter because it is easier to digest, has more anti-inflammatory properties, and has a higher nutrient density and smoke point.
Therefore, ghee is more suitable for frying, a better choice for people with allergies, and gives a quicker energy boost.
What Is the Difference Between Ghee and Butter?
In contrast to regular butter, ghee is pure butterfat, free of lactose and milk proteins.
Due to the absence of milk protein, ghee can be the better option against allergies. Because of its high level of clarification, ghee has anti-inflammatory properties.
Furthermore, ghee can be heated up higher than butter.
While butter burns at less than 175°C (350°F), the smoke point of ghee is about 250°C (485°F). Moreover, a higher smoke point means the body can absorb nutrients better.
While regular butter or olive oil may be what you are used to, their lower smoke point can oxidize fatty acids. Consequently, they can produce free radicals that cause oxidative stress and damage the body.
However, this danger is much less severe with butter than with refined vegetable oils, such as canola, soy, or sunflower oil, which you should not heat or eat.
Clarified Butter vs. Ghee
Although often referred to as clarified butter, ghee goes one step further and undergoes a longer heating process, resulting in a richer, deeper, nutty taste.
Therefore, ghee is ultra-clarified butter. Hence, ghee differs from clarified butter by having a higher smoke point and providing further health benefits.
How to Make Ghee?
The ghee traditionally starts as grass-fed butter, which is essential for health benefits.
This butter is slowly brought to a boil, evaporating the excess moisture and removing all remaining milk solids by straining.
Clarified butter undergoes a similar heating process, but you stop it earlier, resulting in a lighter taste and lower smoke point.
During this process, you must skim the top layer of whey protein and pour off the butterfat, leaving the casein proteins in the vessel.
Which Ghee Butter Should I Buy?
The best advice is to buy organic, grass-fed ghee butter. There are no studies on the tolerance and safety of ghee derived from cows fed with hormones and antibiotics.
In grass-fed ghee butter, the nutrient density is much higher. You get the best butter when cattle nourish themselves on herbs and grasses in a way appropriate for their species.
Accordingly, organic, grass-fed ghee is a premium variety of grass-fed butter. So, if you can get ghee from grass-fed cows, go for it!
Because of the intense clarification process, ghee butter it is stable at room temperature and for a very long time. The exact time depends on the product and method of preparation.
Extracting proteins and lactose from the butter allows you to store ghee for about a year.
However, you can keep it in the cupboard or on the counter, and you do not have to worry about it turning rancid.
As a result, ghee butter combines easy storage and long shelf life with a rich nutty taste that also brings healthy fats and nutrients into your diet.
So, ghee gives vegetables a taste boost and helps you stay full longer.
How to Use Ghee
Since the smoke point is much higher in ghee than in butter, ghee is ideal for cooking at high heat and offers an excellent option for the kitchen in addition to coconut oil and lard.
Like coconut oil and organic lard, ghee is excellent for low-carb and keto diets. Moreover, ghee butter can provide unique health benefits.
Cooking with Ghee Butter
While some people think that ghee butter brings a nutty caramel flavor to recipes, others say that ghee has a butterier taste than butter itself.
However, it’s also possible that you may find the taste a bit hard to get used to at first. The best way to find out for yourself is to use ghee for your favorite dishes.
Especially pan-fried dishes are delicious with ghee—for example, stir-fry broccoli, cauliflower, or kale in ghee butter.
Since ghee is traditional in India, it is unsurprising that it makes garlic tastier or emphasizes spices. So you can add more kick to your low-carb or keto recipes using ghee butter.
Bulletproof Coffee with Ghee
Ghee gives coffee, tea, and other beverages a rich, sweet, and caramel-like taste.
Bulletproof Coffee is a keto-friendly coffee drink, often used as an aid when starting intermittent fasting.
Also, many athletes swear by the quick energy boost that Bulletproof Coffee can provide.
Besides ghee or grass-fed butter, the satiating power drink also contains quickly metabolizable MCT or coconut oil.
For this reason, Bulletproof Coffee is a trendy drink for weight loss.
Health Benefits of Ghee Butter
Ghee has enormous health benefits, often called the golden elixir or the better butter. These range from a higher vitamin supply, better digestion, and bone density to firmer skin.
1. Conjugated Linoleic Acid
What makes traditional grass-fed ghee so special is the high concentration of a unique natural fat called conjugated linoleic acid (CLA).
For this reason, the CLA in ghee helps to replace body fat with muscle mass. And that even without the help of exercise (McCrorie et al. 20111).
- Blood lipid levels
- Insulin sensitivity
- Bone Mineralization
- Blood Clot
- Cancer diseases
After CLA is produced by fermentation in the digestive tract of cows, it is essential to feed the cows appropriately with natural grasses.
For example, dairy products from grass-fed cows contain about six times as much CLA than those from grain-fed cattle (Dhiman et al. 19994).
According to a recent animal study, CLA injected into joints did not just stop cartilage breakdown, but also stimulate cartilage regeneration (Bradbery et al. 20185).
For this reason, scientists also derive that CLA reduces inflammation.
2. Weight Loss Effects
Although ghee butter helps you stay full longer, the effects of ghee on weight loss go far beyond that.
Accordingly, the conjugated linoleic acid in ghee counteracts the development of type 2 diabetes and fat accumulation in general (Daley et al. 20106).
But there is a third way that ghee helps with weight loss. Ghee contains medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), as found in coconut oil.
For example, studies have shown that MCT oils can reduce body fat and the dangerous visceral fat in and around organs – especially the liver (Mumme et al. 20159).
According to these studies, ghee provides triple the benefits for healthy weight loss. Additionally, it merely makes other healthy foods more palatable.
3. Intolerances, Allergies, and Inflammation
Ghee contains only tiny amounts of lactose and casein after removing the dry milk mass.
Therefore, it does not cause inflammation or trigger allergies like other dairy products.
Consequently, ghee butter is a better choice for lactose intolerant people and intestinal health in general.
4. Smoke Point of Ghee
The smoke point of ghee is higher than the one of butter. A smoke point is the highest temperature that fat can reach before its fatty acids oxidize, producing harmful free radicals and a burnt flavor.
Since many delicious dishes are prepared at high temperatures, for example, to be crispy, ghee is the better choice. Unlike butter (175°C / 350°F) and many vegetable oils, ghee has a much higher smoke point (250°C / 485°F).
Unfortunately, over decades, standard nutritional advice suggested avoiding animal fats and other saturated fats, such as coconut oil, which are suitable for high temperatures, in favor of vegetable oils such as corn, canola, or soy (Ramsden et al. 201310).
Since the polyunsaturated fatty acids in these industrial vegetable oils are sensitive to heat and pressure, they are often damaged during production.
Moreover, vegetable oils are mainly produced from genetically modified crops. For example, over 90% of the world’s corn, canola, and soy harvests come from GMO plants.
Also, refined vegetable oils are over-processed and filled into transparent containers, causing even more damage – long before they reach your shopping cart.
Additionally, when added to a food product, these oils are often partially hydrogenated, resulting in unhealthy trans fats.
By replacing vegetable oils with ghee – whether cooking, frying, or baking –, you avoid severe damage that vegetable oils can do to your health (Moran 200111).
Ghee butter produces significantly less acrylamide than other fats and oils with equally high smoke points.
Acrylamide is a toxic compound in some starchy foods when one prepares them at high temperatures (baking, frying, roasting).
According to a recent study, when heated, ghee releases ten times less acrylamide than soybean oil (Daniali et al. 201612).
Although butter already has a good vitamin value, ghee brings more short and medium-chain fatty acids, vitamins A, D, E, K, and CLA, into your diet.
Also, ghee contains more butyrates. These short-chain fatty acids are consumed by gut bacteria, thus contributing to improved gut health.
Because butyrates do not require digestive enzymes or bile activity to work, they can provide a quick and easily digestible energy boost.
Moreover, butyrates can reduce the risk of heart disease (Chambers et al. 201813).
The golden clarified butter is also an outstanding energy booster for athletes.
Since ghee has a balanced spectrum of short-, medium- and long-chain fatty acids, it provides lasting energy.
Additionally, it promotes muscle gain and athletic performance through testosterone modulation. According to studies, endurance athletes, in particular, can benefit from the energy boost induced by ghee butter.
Furthermore, athletes who have consumed CLA from ghee will experience fatigue later (Terasawa et al. 201714).
Because of CLA’s anti-inflammatory properties due to the clarification process, ghee is the healthy fat par excellence.
The Bottom Line
Ghee contains 10% more medium-chain fatty acids than butter, slightly more vitamins, and conjugated linoleic acid. Because ghee has almost no lactose and proteins, it has a higher nutrient density than butter.
Since this procedure increases the smoke point, ghee is ideal for frying – no matter whether you add meat or vegetables to your pan.
Although in my experience, grass-fed butter is not a problem for lactose-intolerant people, ghee is the better choice for intestinal health.
However, this does not have to mean “either-or,” as ghee and grass-fed butter offer significant health benefits. On the one hand, I love the natural butter taste. On the other hand, the nutty flavor of ghee is often a better variety.
If you experiment with your favorite dishes, you will quickly find out which dishes taste better with ghee and which with butter.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Is ghee inflammatory like dairy?
Because ghee does not contain lactose and milk protein, it is less inflammatory than dairy.
Is ghee basically butter?
Ghee is an ultra-clarified version of regular butter.
Is ghee healthier than olive oil?
Ghee is better for frying than olive oil due to its high smoke point. However, both are very healthy fats.
Is it good to eat ghee daily?
There is nothing wrong with eating ghee daily.
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Mag. Stephan Lederer, MSc. is an author and blogger from Austria who writes in-depth content about health and nutrition. His book series on Interval Fasting landed #1 on the bestseller list in the German Amazon marketplace in 15 categories.
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