Is Ghee more healthful than Butter?

Is Ghee more healthful than Butter?

Ghee is used for cooking extensively throughout India. Sometimes, it is also used as a substitute for butter. Some people believe that Ghee is more healthful than butter. But is this true? This blog discusses some of the fundamental differences between Ghee and butter and also comments on whether Ghee is in reality more healthful than butter.

Ghee is made either from cow or buffalo milk. Because Ghee has a higher burning point than standard clarified butter, it becomes useful for frying or sautéing foods. Ghee also produces less acrylamide, a toxin, when heated compared to other oils. The nutritional composition and fat content of Ghee and butter are almost similar. However, because Ghee does not contain the same amount of dairy proteins such as casein, and also lactose than regular butter, it may be better for people who are lactose intolerant. Ghee contains a fatty acid called butyrate acid, which plays an essential role in the functioning of a healthy digestive system. It may also have anti-inflammatory effects. Ghee is unprocessed fat. It contains Omega 3 fatty acids along with Vitamin A. Fortified butter may also contain Vitamin A. Thus, Ghee is a good source of Omega 3 fatty acids.

The fat concentration of Ghee is slightly higher concentration of fats than butter and more calories. Butter provides around 717 Kcal per 100 grams with 51% saturated fats and 3 grams of trans fats. Ghee provides around 900 Kcal per 100 grams with 60% saturated fats and no trans fats. According to the American Heart Association, a person should get around 5-6% of their daily calories from saturated fat, which is about 13 grams per day. Both butter and Ghee contain saturated fat, which can contribute to high blood cholesterol levels and heart diseases if not eaten in limited amounts.

There isn’t much difference between the fat and calorie content of Ghee and butter. So, when it comes to total fat or calorie intake, choosing one over the other may not impact your health. Although, Ghee has a slightly higher proportion of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats as compared to butter. Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are healthful fats and one can increase the intake of these fats. These fats help maintain healthy cholesterol levels and offer protection against heart disease.  In this respect, Ghee seems like a healthier option than butter. The following table shows the fat composition of Ghee and butter:

Type of fat per tablespoon Ghee Butter
Saturated 10 g 7 g
Monounsaturated 3.5 g 3 g
Polyunsaturated 0.5 0.4 g

According to Ayurveda, cow Ghee enhances the ojas, an essence that governs the tissues of the body and balances the hormones. Sufficient ojas in the body ensures a strong mind and body and boosts immunity. Ghee is said to help in maintaining overall health and well-being. It is said that Ghee is sattvic or sattva-guṇi food whereas butter is tamasic food. Also, butter increases Kapha whereas Ghee balances all the 3 Dosha in the body. Ghee is also considered to be helpful for the skin.

Ghee has a shelf life of 6-8 months, even at ambient temperatures. Butter requires refrigeration whereas Ghee does not. The high temperature treatment during manufacturing of Ghee destroys most of the micro-organisms and moisture, increasing its shelf life. It is said that Ghee has a slightly alkalizing effect on the body whereas butter has a slightly acidifying effect. It is also said that Ghee helps in nutrient absorption. Although, some of these benefits of Ghee have been debated upon.

Conclusion:

As mentioned above, there isn’t much difference between the fat and calorie content of Ghee and butter. Hence, from that perspective, choosing one over the other does not seem to be a better option. But Ghee does offer several other benefits which butter does not and some of these have been mentioned in this blog. Ghee seems to be the best option for people who are lactose or casein intolerant. Including Ghee in your diet in the right proportion would surely help you to stay healthy.