Ghee vs. Butter: Which One is Better?
“What the heck is that stuff?” I think this was the exact thought that I had when I first encountered ghee. It’s got the color of butter, but it’s solid at room temperature in a different kind of way that butter is.
The texture is different, smooth but not as creamy as butter. It’s just different…”weird” I think was my initial thought. You may have thought the same thing, but by the end of this article I might make you a believer in ghee – because now I am too!
Though it’s gained popularity as of late, it’s actually nothing new (isn’t that the case with so many health strategies? They’ve been around for a while).
It’s so funny that “health science” has turned a deaf ear to Ayurvedic remedies for so many years. Now in recent years, the tides are turning. Many people are looking for natural remedies and solutions and why not take notes from one of the most ancient forms of healing in the world?
In the case of ghee, the Indians call it the exotic brother of butter. If you don’t already know (and I’ll be honest, I’ve only known for a couple of years), ghee is a form of clarified butter and is considered to be a healthier alternative to highly processed fats like canola and vegetable oil.
Even though healthy fats like butter, coconut oil and even ghee were once demonized by the food industry, it’s now becoming common knowledge that these foods are not just acceptable, but they have incredible health benefits.
Check out this site for extensive research on healthy fats, their benefits as and the low-fat diet farce that the food industry has perpetuated for years. Gets me fired up!
When it comes to ghee vs. butter and which one is more beneficial, the truth is that they are both healthful choices. It’s just a matter of what resonates best with you and how you intend to use it.
Ghee vs. Butter: The Preparation
Ghee is prepared by heating butter and separating the yellow liquid and the semi-solid milk portion. The butter is usually boiled until the liquid part evaporates and the semi-solid milk is left behind, allowing it to turn into a shade of dark brown to golden color.
Then, the liquid is strained and transferred to a storage container or jar. You can make your own ghee at home with grass-fed butter or you can be like me and just buy a perfectly good jar of ghee at Whole Foods or a health food store. We use organic ghee made from Grass-Fed cows.
Ghee vs. Butter: Which is Better for You
So, is ghee any better than butter?
The great thing about ghee is that like butter, it has an outstanding nutritional profile but it also has no traces of casein and lactose. But it is still rich in butyrate and fatty acids.
So, if you’re someone like me that’s more sensitive to casein and lactose, ghee can be a better option. I know it’s counterintuitive to think that ghee could be a good option for someone that’s sensitive to dairy since it is made from dairy.
But the preparation removes the casein and lactose which is what causes the inflammation/reaction in those that are dairy adverse.
Ghee is slightly more concentrated than butter and provides more saturated fat and butyric acid per gram. Animal studies reveal that ghee helps in reducing inflammation and improving gut health.
Ghee is also high in conjugated linoleic acid which helps in promoting fat loss. Pretty much all of the same qualities can be found in butter.
The difference between ghee vs. butter is so minimal that choosing one over the other probably won’t offer significant benefits to your health.
So, ghee vs. butter: who wins? Let’s look at the fatty acid profile.
Ghee vs. Butter: Fatty Acid Profiles
Even when you look at the fatty acid profiles of ghee vs. butter they are very similar. Butter is made up of 12% to 15% medium-chain and short-chain fatty acids. Ghee is made up of 25% short and medium fatty acids.
Short chain fatty acids are great for digestive health which is why they are often recommended for healing leaky gut and autoimmune conditions.
Ghee vs. Butter: Cooking and Preparation
Let’s talk about the taste – there is a definitely a taste difference between ghee and butter. I prefer the taste of butter, but I do like the taste of ghee. You have to find a good brand and it also depends on how you’re using it.
For example, if I’m adding fat to cooked vegetables, I don’t mind using ghee. If I’m cooking eggs or waffles (I have an awesome paleo recipe I’ll post soon!) I don’t mind using ghee. The only time I really don’t care for it is in rice – but that’s just me. In most cases I quite like it.
I do like using ghee much more when I’m cooking at higher temperatures because the smoke point is higher (485 F) than butter (350 F). So that’s another benefit of ghee.
More Health Benefits of Ghee
Ghee Promotes Heart Health
Studies show that ghee is capable of increasing HDL (good cholesterol) and slowing down the accumulation of fat in the arteries. It is also known to promote healthy blood sugar levels.
Note: I am only talking about the ghee prepared from dairy and not the ghee prepared from vegetable oil (also known as vegetable ghee or vanaspati ghee). The latter comprises 14% to 40% of trans fats and works in the reverse direction.
Good Source of Fat-Soluble Vitamins A, D and E
Anyone with a leaky gut syndrome, gluten sensitivity, pancreatic disorders or IBS may have difficulty in getting adequate vitamin A. By replacing butter with ghee and using it more for cooking, you can increase the intake of Vitamin A and D naturally.
I know Vitamin D can be obtained by getting outside in the sun. But in the winter, ghee can be your superfood sidekick. It’s high in vitamin E, which can help in balancing hormones, cholesterol, improving vision and repairing damaged skin.
Supports Weight Loss
Another point for ghee in the ghee vs. butter game.
The energy obtained from the fatty acids of ghee helps to burn other fats in your body, promoting weight loss. The Indian Ayurveda, that has embraced the use of ghee for many years, supports this theory.
According to it, ghee may improve the functioning of the gallbladder and the overall digestive system. It further explains that ghee may remove stubborn toxins by attracting other fats inside the body.
Ghee Strengthens Bones with the Help of Vitamin K2
Vitamin K2 is helpful to make use of essential minerals like calcium more efficiently. Vitamin K, by itself, is a bone builder and bone health supporter very much like calcium.
Vitamin K2, besides its ability to promote the growth and development of bones, can also fight against tooth decay and atherosclerosis (calcification of arteries).
Ghee Reduces Inflammation
Butyrate levels in ghee play a crucial role in fighting inflammation. Again, going back to history and Ayurvedic practices, it is believed that ghee supports the body by generating an alkaline system that controls inflammation by decreasing the prostaglandin in the body and controlling the secretion of leukotriene.
You may have already known that inflammation is the root cause of the majority of health conditions we fight today, including certain types of cancers, Alzheimer’s Disease, asthma, arthritis and high level of cholesterols.
Ghee vs. Butter: the Verdict
Both of these healthy fats are extremely beneficial for your health and they are great alternatives to highly processed (and quite frankly, toxic) fats like canola and vegetable oil.
With its very long history and many health benefits, ghee has a slight edge over butter. It’s a great choice for lactose intolerant people (like me) and it has a higher smoke point so that it’s better for cooking at higher temperatures.
When it comes to ghee vs. butter, I think ghee is the winner but you can’t go wrong either way.
I’d love to hear from you. Have you tried ghee? What do you prefer? Ghee or butter?
Let us know in the comments section below!