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Health influencers have recently popularized using ghee as a healthier alternative to butter or margarine. But is ghee truly healthier or is this just the latest trending health hack?
Recent studies have found that ghee is a healthier alternative to butters or margarine! Ghee has nearly the same amount of fat and calories as butter. But ghee can have an anti-inflammatory effect and it contains healthy fats. Margarine is also more processed and contains more trans-fat than ghee.
Before you ditch all your butter and margarine habits, it’s important to learn about the benefits of ghee compared to the benefits of margarine and butter.
What is Ghee?
Ghee is a type of clarified butter that many countries in the Middle East and India use for different dishes. It is great as a cooking oil because it has a higher smoking temperature than butter or margarine. This makes it ideal for pan-frying and cooking different recipes that may require high-temperature cooking.
Ghee is also healthy when used for things other than cooking. It is highly regarded in Ayurveda therapies as a healing and cleansing treatment. Ghee is also used in alternative medicine as a base for ointments that are used to treat rashes, swelling and burns.
An extra bonus? You don’t have to refrigerate ghee because there is no water in it which means bacteria won’t grow.
How is Ghee Made?
Ghee is made by slowly melting regular butter made from cow’s milk at a low temperature. This allows the milk solids and water to evaporate, leaving behind the milk fat. The left-over milk fat is calcified liquid fat, which is the ghee. With just a regular, unsalted stick of butter, you can easily make ghee at home and use it as a cooking oil.
To do this, you put the butter stick in a frying pan on the stove and let it heat up. The butter will melt down to liquid and start to foam. Keep the stove on low heat and cook the liquid for another 20-25 minutes, making sure to stir it occasionally. By stirring the liquid, you stop the milk solids from burning at the bottom of the pan.
Once the cooking time is up, you have made the ghee and are ready to use it as a healthier alternative to the butter! There are so many tasty meals with ghee as an ingredient!
Should I use ghee over margarine and butter?
Ghee has clear health benefits over margarine. It has more nutrients and the trans-fats in margarine are linked to a variety of health issues. Margarine has around 15 grams of trans fat per 100 grams whilst ghee is typically free of trans-fatty acids. If you are searching for a healthy alternative, ghee might be a good option!
When it comes to ghee and butter, you might approach it in the same way you question whether a 2km run is worth it when you can walk the same distance. Ghee can be made from most butter which is why their benefits are closely linked. However, ghee retains more nutrients without keeping trans-fat acids. It is also more easily converted to energy.
Ultimately, ghee does have health benefits, but not enough to change your whole diet around. Whether you should use ghee, butter or margarine depends on what your goal is. Consider what you are cooking, if you have personal weight loss or other health goals and your level of consumption of these products. Too much of most fats are bad for your health. But you always have the option to experiment with all of these and possibly chop and change what you want to use on different days!
What is the Difference Between Ghee and Butter?
When discussing health benefits, there is not much of a difference between ghee and butter when it comes to composition. Both ghee and butter get 100% of their calories from fat. Ghee can have slightly more calories and fat than butter, but they are similar for the most part. For example, one tablespoon of ghee has around 120 calories. A tablespoon of butter typically has around 102 calories.
So, why is ghee healthier than butter? The caloric difference is generally not enough to consider ghee healthier, but there are other differences that make ghee a better alternative. Ghee is a recommended alternative to butter if you are lactose intolerant or casein intolerant. That is because they are mostly strained out when the butter is slowly melted. However, if you are highly intolerant to dairy, it is still better to use vegetable oil, olive oil, or avocado oil. Ghee may still contain leftover dairy or casein.
To make ghee, the butter is treated with a low heat, which is typically under 100 degrees. Because of this low heat, ghee is able to retain more nutrients than butter does. Ghee contains nutrients such as vitamin A, vitamin E, and it has conjugated linoleic acid (CLA). CLA has been shown to protect against cancers such as breast cancer, obesity, and high cholesterol. Butyrate is also in ghee, and it has been proven to help gut inflammation and aid digestion. This is a win considering all of the foods that cause inflammation.
Butter also has vitamin A and E. Ghee and butter have very similar compositions and it likely does not make much of a difference to choose one over the other. But if you are looking for a butter alternative that may help in weight loss and inflammation, ghee is the better option.
Another reason to choose ghee instead of butter would be if you were looking for a cooking fat with a high smoking point. There are many different dishes and recipes that would benefit from the aromatic smell of butter, but the butter cannot withstand the heat. Butter starts to smoke and can burn at 350 degrees Fahrenheit (177 degrees Celsius), but ghee does not start to smoke until 485 degrees Fahrenheit (252 degrees Celsius).
What is the Difference Between Ghee and Margarine?
Margarine is known to be relatively unhealthy compared to butter and other forms of fats and oils. This is because it is heavy in trans-fat. Trans fats are hydrogenated oils that are best used for unhealthy foods such as cookies, cakes, and even crackers. The trans-fat in margarine is typically associated with diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. Trans fat increases levels of blood cholesterol which can lead to heart disease. The typical ghee, which is made from cow’s milk butter does not contain any trans-fat.
When considering and discussing health benefits, you should note that ghee also has many more nutrients compared to margarine. Margarine is a highly processed vegetable oil that is chemically extracted. People often prefer Ghee and butter since they are more natural alternatives. Margarine is extracted at extremely high temperatures, causing the nutrients to diminish. Ghee is overall a more nutrient-dense and natural option compared to margarine.
Is Ghee Vegan?
While the milk solids are removed from butter to make ghee, ghee is not vegan. Vegans do not eat any food that is made with animal products. Since ghee is made from cow’s milk, it is not vegan. It is, however, good for those who are lactose and casein intolerant since they are both largely removed once the butter is strained.
If you enjoyed this article, you should browse our blog for other lifestyle and wellness articles. Here at Vidar Australia, we like to write about some of the less common, but extremely useful topics that often are under-rated! Check out our article on ‘The 7 health benefits of decluttering‘ or ‘Is watching movies on your phone bad for your eyes?‘