Ghee Butter: Does it Live Up to the Name?

To ghee or not to ghee, that is the question! This staple of Indian cuisine has taken over the spotlight as of late as being the next big superfood.

So what’s the deal, is this just another foodie trend or does ghee butter really live up to all the hype?

In this article, we’re going to take a look at why this food has been generating all the buzz from food bloggers and eateries alike, and why you should be hopping aboard the ghee butter bandwagon.

What’s in a Ghee

Ghee — Hindi for “fat” — has been around for ages and is a type of clarified butter that is typically made by melting butter, skimming off the milk solids, and allowing the water to evaporate.

What’s leftover is a golden butter fat that’s flavorful, nutritious, and easily digestible. The taste is found to be nuttier and richer than butter and has a deep yellow hue.

Ghee was originally created to keep butter from spoiling during hot weather, and has even been used in the Indian alternative medicine system Ayurveda where it’s called ghrita.

How it Compares to Butter

Butter and ghee share many similar culinary properties and nutritional compositions, but there are a few differences as well.

When looking at the nutrition data for one tablespoon (14 grams) of butter and ghee, you’ll find:

Both butter and ghee contain nearly 100% of calories from fat, making it a better swap for high fat diets like the ketogenic diet.

Ghee is also more concentrated than butter. When looking at gram for gram, it shells out slightly more butyric acid along with other short-chain saturated fats.

Let’s Talk Health

It isn’t surprising that ghee has suddenly hit the modern cuisine scene, as Americans have become more and more enamored with consuming healthy fats such as coconut oil and avocados. Let’s take a look at some of its wondrous health benefits.

Rich in vitamins

Compared to butter, ghee is much lower in cholesterol, lactose-free, and is packed with a whole host of fat-soluble vitamins like vitamins A, D, E, and K.

All of these vitamins contain a wealth of antioxidant properties and play a heavy role in strengthening our immune systems.

Ghee butter and heart health

In a study on rabbits1, ghee was found to increase high-density lipoprotein (HDL) — “good” cholesterol — and reduce the formation of fatty deposits in the arteries.

In another study of 206 healthy adults, ghee was found to be the fat source responsible for the largest increase in apolipoprotein — a protein in HDL particles that has been associated with reduced risk of heart disease2.

It’s also important to point out the disparities between ghee that is made from dairy and ghee that is made from vegetable oil, which is called vegetable ghee or vanaspati.

Vegetable ghee holds roughly 14-40% trans fats, and some researchers believe that an increase in vegetable ghee consumption may be a contributing factor to increased heart disease rates among Pakistanis and Indians3.

Several studies on animals that compared soybean oil to ghee suggest that ghee may reduce the risk of certain cancers, including breast cancer4.

Ghee has a high smoke point

Simply put, the smoke point is the temperature at which oil begins to burn and smoke. When you heat up a cooking fat above its smoke point, it puts it at a greater risk of causing a fire.

Additionally, it also breaks down phytonutrients and causes the fat to oxidize and form free radicals that can be harmful.

While most cooking oils with high smoke points happen to be less-than-great for your health (such as canola oil, corn oil, peanut oil, and soybean oil), ghee, on the other hand, is a great choice for cooking.

It’s smoke point is 485 degrees Fahrenheit (350 for butter), which means you can easily use it for baking, roasting, and sauteing without worrying about destroying the important nutrients it contains which provide all of the ghee benefits.

It’s loaded with butyrate

Butyrate is a short-chain fatty acid that plays a major role in gut health.

Many studies have revealed that ghee butter can help fight off inflammation5, support healthy insulin levels6, and provide relief for people suffering from a variety of conditions, such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.

Butyrate is the primary source of energy for cells in your colon and is key in promoting a healthy gut microbiome, which is essential in fighting disease and health.

Final Thoughts

While the nutritional profiles between ghee and butter are very similar, research has long suggested that ghee can make a nutritious addition to any diet.

It’s also a great choice if you’re sensitive to lactose or cook at higher temperatures due to its high smoke point.

Ghee is a powerful superfood and is here to stay. So improve your diet and pick some up next time you’re at the grocery store!

More Readings:

75 Keto Snacks That Won’t Take You Out of Ketosis

Keto Bulletproof Coffee Recipe

Ketogenic Diet Shopping List

Avocado 101: Nutrition Facts & Benefits

References:

[1] Hosseini M, Asgary S. Effects of dietary supplementation with ghee, hydrogenated oil, or olive oil on lipid profile and fatty streak formation in rabbits. ARYA Atheroscler. 2012 Fall;8(3):119-24.

[2] Mohammadifard N, Hosseini M, Sajjadi F, Maghroun M, Boshtam M, Nouri F. Comparison of effects of soft margarine, blended, ghee, and unhydrogenated oil with hydrogenated oil on serum lipids: A randomized clinical trail. ARYA Atheroscler. 2013 Nov;9(6):363-71.

[3] Sharma H, Zhang X, Dwivedi C. The effect of ghee (clarified butter) on serum lipid levels and microsomal lipid peroxidation. Ayu. 2010 Apr;31(2):134-40. doi: 10.4103/0974-8520.72361.

[4] Rani R, Kansal VK. Study on cow ghee versus soybean oil on 7,12-dimethylbenz(a)-anthracene induced mammary carcinogenesis & expression of cyclooxygenase-2 & peroxisome proliferators activated receptor-γ in rats. Indian J Med Res. 2011 May;133:497-503.

[5] Cushing K, Alvarado DM, Ciorba MA. 2015. Butyrate and mucosal inflammation: new scientific evidence supports clinical observation. Clin Transl Gastroenterol 6:e108. doi:10.1038/ctg.2015.34.

[6] Gao Z, et al. Butyrate improves insulin sensitivity and increases energy expenditure in mice. Diabetes. 2009;58:1509–1517. doi: 10.2337/db08-1637.

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