People have been avoiding butter for decades, whether because they are sensitive to dairy or concerned about saturated fats in their diet. While a bit of butter isn’t all that bad for most, there’s an even healthier, organic alternative that many Westerners have never heard of — ghee. Ghee is the perfect butter replacement, it’s virtually lactose free and doesn’t have the fake-o chemicals of margarine. You can cook anything with it, spread it on toast or drizzle on popcorn without sacrificing flavor. Plus, you’ll be ingesting tons of skin-repairing nutrients! Sound too good to be true? It’s not! Keep reading to find out why we think ghee is better than butter and is the next best thing to (or on) sliced bread.
If you are unfamiliar with ghee then this is going to be an exciting discovery for you because it delivers the taste of butter, but is way better for you. Ghee is a dairy product that has been consumed in the East by Indians for centuries. It is pure butterfat cooked for a longer period of time than regular butter is; removing all traces of moisture until the milk solids are caramelized and then filtered out. Once the simmered butter has cooled, the very top layer is skimmed off, and that portion is known as ghee.
What Makes Ghee Better Than Butter
Ghee contains a high amount of antioxidants, such as carotenoid and vitamins A and E.
In fact you’ll get 1,418IU (International Units) of vitamin A, which is about 57% of your recommended 2,500IU daily intake. [source]
Consuming an adequate amount of antioxidants helps your skin cell growth improve and fights free radicals in your body. Basically that means you will have better looking skin and better functioning organs. Yipee!
The Good Kind of Fat
One tablespoon of ghee has 14 grams of fat. That seems like a lot, but let’s talk about why it’s good fat. First of all, you can’t access the nutrients of all the fat soluble vitamins ghee contains such as A, D, E, and K without it. Not only that, but ghee is totally free of hydrogenated fat (AKA the bad kind).
Essential fatty acids (EFAs) are highly necessary to maintain optimal brain and nerve function. Since EFAs can’t be produced in the body, they can only be obtained through food like ghee.
EFAs Ghee Contains Are:
- Conjugated linoleic acid: believed to protect against heart disease and type II diabetes. [source]
- Omega-3 and omega-6: needed for skin membrane function and anti-inflammatory responses. Super important for hydrated and clear skin!
A Friendly Food for the Lactose Intolerant
Many (not all) who are lactose or casein intolerant may be able to consume ghee without any negative consequences to their tummies. The process of turning butter into ghee removes the majority of the lactose and casein (milk proteins) contained in the butter.
This is also good for anyone with digestive issues as ghee stimulates the secretion of stomach acids, which aid in the digestion process. [source]
Change is Good
A few years ago a prominent Ayurvedic doctor, Dr. Raichur, who specializes in skin concerns, told me to eat ghee instead of butter, but (ehm hm) I didn’t follow her advice. I kept meaning to try it, but if there’s one pretty universal truth about being a human it’s that we all fear change and the unknown to some degree. I didn’t know what ghee was or if I’d like it.
Finally as if my Ayurvedic prayers were answered, Organic India sent me some of their organic, ghee to try. Now I wonder what was I waiting for?! The taste IS buttery, and I’ve been pleasantly surprised all the nutritious goodness it offers. More than that, the way this product is made falls totally inline with the ideals of living a green, organic lifestyle.
Traditional ghee production truly honors nature and the animals in a spiritual way. Cows are considered a sacred animal by Hindus in India and allowed to roam freely. Organic India further explains, “In India, cows are considered holy and are worshipped with celebrations and decorations. Each of our cows is an integral part of her farm and considered a member of the family. They are housed in protective traditional sheds and treated with love, respect and honor. Our cows eat a variety of nutritious, organic foods.”
Do a bit of research and you’ll find other reputable brands such as Purity Farm, Ancient Organics, and Pure Indian Foods who have wonderfully sustainable practices. Additionally some feature that ghee from grass-fed cows, meaning the milk is obtained only during spring thru fall, when the cows are out to pasture eating fresh green grass.
Importantly look for ghee that comes in a glass container (far preferable to plastic) and it will last for several months (even un-refrigerated!).
Cooking with Ghee
A lot of people believe butter is bad for you, and while I don’t totally agree with that as a sweeping generalization, I am supportive of healthy butter alternatives to cook with. However I love to cook and using coconut oil as a replacement for butter isn’t the answer for everything and doesn’t always deliver the flavor I want in my cooking. I would never go near the chemical craziness that is margarine and I avoid fake dairy made of soy and other GMO ingredients, so ghee is something I can get on board with.
Ghee has a higher smoke point than butter, making it a great choice for cooking, sauteing and frying. Butter can only be heated up to 325-375 degrees F (163-191 degrees C) before it starts smoking, while ghee can withstand up to 400-500 degrees F (204-260 degrees C).
Simply put, ghee has more health benefits than butter. Whether you spread ghee across your toast in the morning, or sauté your vegetables in it, your body will benefit from this food. Replacing butter with ghee in your grocery cart is a simple switch-out that’s a healthier option you can feel good about enjoying the rich flavor.
Do you use ghee too? Share with us how you incorporate ghee into your daily eating regime in the comments below!
Images courtesy of Organic India USA by Kelly Fajack