The Lowdown on Ghee
☮ What is Ghee?
Ghee is a type of clarified butter, originating from ancient India. Ghee has traditionally been used in Ayurveda medicine, touted as a remedy for anything from skin and allergy issues, to respiratory conditions. “Clarified” means that when they produce it, the water and milk solids are separated out, producing a pure fat-only butter. Ghee usually is then heated and caramelized with the milk solids to produce a nutty, aromatic and smooth flavor. Clarified butter in general consists of the process of discarding the milk solids (whereas ghee is then heated with it for added flavor). Most butter today contains some water and milk solids, which aren’t suitable for those who are lactose-intolerant. Ghee is gluten free and lactose-free. Because it lacks the milk solids, it has a higher smoke point (meaning it’s amazing for sauteing and frying) and has a longer shelf-life. It is comprised of 2/3 saturated fat and 1/3 monounsaturated fat.
☮ What do you use it for?
Use it in place of any butter or oil you cook or bake with. Perfect as a spread on toast, baked potatoes, waffles, and even better used for sauteeing veggies.
☮ Is it healthy?
One reason you should consider adding ghee to your diet is because it does contain healthy fats, just like nut butters, avocado, coconut oil, etc. Yes, it is almost purely fat, but used in small amounts it is BENEFICIAL fat. Ghee and other saturated fats (butter, coconut oil) contain short-chain fatty acids that are easily metabolized by the body. This means that the body can easily use the fatty acids and receive the benefits, without having to go through a ton of digesting, breaking down, etc. Butter contains only 12-15% medium- and short-chain fatty acids, whereas ghee contains 25%. These short chain fatty acids are the ones that we want, because they are the ones that have a positive effect on our cholesterol and heart. Here’s an interesting article on all the positives of MCT (medium chain triglycerides).
Margarine, on the other hand, contains vegetable oils which are trans fats, the BAD fats that increase your total cholesterol and “bad” cholesterol, as well as decrease your good cholesterol. Not so sweet, huh? Ghee (and butter for that matter) contains more saturated fat, but are more natural, satiating (leading to less intake, idealistically) and
What are the benefits to these types of fats? Proper hormone regulation, immune system strengthener, cushioning for the myelin tissue in the brain, satiation, lowering of “bad” cholesterol and raising our “good” cholesterol, etc.
Another reason some people should consider eating ghee is due to the lack of casein. As stated in Primal Docs, “Ghee is clarified butter-the butter is heated and milk solids (proteins) have been removed. The protein casein found in dairy is difficult for many people to digest. Casein is a large foreign protein that can pass through the human gut easily, contributing to what is known as “leaky” or permeable gut. When these proteins pass through the gut, they contribute to inflammatory conditions in the body. Many people think they cannot digest the lactose in dairy, but may in fact actually be reacting to the protein casein. Because the casein is removed from ghee, ghee is much easier for many to digest than butter.” So even if you are not lactose intolerant, casein is still sometimes difficult to digest, leading to bloating, gas, diarrhea, etc. Ghee is must easier digested.
☮ If I eat fat won’t I get fat?
Just like with any foods, eating too many of one thing is not good. Moderation and balance is key. Ghee is beneficial in small amounts, lowering your body’s risk of cardiovascular disease. BUT, when used in excessive amounts, it RAISES your risk for heart disease. So, the important key is to stick to small serving sizes of these fats, even though they are healthy fats. A proper portion for Ghee would be 1-2 tsp or up to 1 TBSP on a piece of toast, used as a cooking/sautee agent, or added to baked goods. Just as you wouldn’t eat a stick of butter at once, don’t eat a ton of ghee at once! 1 tablespoon of ghee contains roughly 110 calories and 12.7 grams of fat. Always consume any types of fats in moderation.
☮ Where can I purchase ghee?
Want to try some ghee for yourself? Here are some great options:
*yes, they may seem expensive, BUT since you only should be using a tsp or TBSP at a time, it should last a while. Ghee is also more shelf-stable than butter and keeps for a while (no need for refrigeration!).
Here’s an example of a daily meal plan with a healthy amount of fats:
Breakfast: Green Smoothie: 1 handful of spinach or kale, 1/2 frozen banana, handful of frozen pineapple pieces, water or unsweetened almond milk, and 1 scoop of protein powder.
Snack: 1 container of low-sugar greek yogurt with 1 tsp ground flax or chia seeds.
Lunch: Large leafy green salad filled with tomatoes, cucumber, celery, carrots, 1/4 avocado sliced, and olive oil viniagrette.
Snack: Handful of fresh fruit and whole grain crackers or air popped popcorn (100% whole grain!).
Dinner: 1 palm-sized piece of baked salmon, 1/2 cup of brown rice with a dash of sea salt and black pepper, and 2 cups of fresh veggies sauteed in 1 TBSP ghee (broccoli, peppers, onions, mushrooms, kale, etc!)
Just like sugar, fat isn’t healthy for our bodies in high amounts. In smaller, moderate portions these types of fats are beneficial, though! Switch to more natural, real forms of animal products rather than trans-fat containing “lower-fat” products (i.e. margarine) to keep your body healthy and strong.