Go For the Ghee

By: Joe Martinez, RPh, PDE, CMS, Founder and CCO, HMS

Contributor: Stephanie Wu

Believe it or not, there is a product on supermarket shelves that will have you shouting (in a good way), “I can’t believe this IS butter!” 

Ghee (pronounced gē) is a purified form of butter, a staple in traditional Indian cooking and also an Ayurvedic medicine. 

How it’s made: 

Butter is boiled so that the butterfat separates and can be poured off. What is left behind are the proteins (casein and whey) and some milk solids. 

Ghee is sometimes known as ‘clarified’ butter, which is what you get when butter is cooked long enough for nearly all the milk solids to melt away and what you have left is simply the butterfat. 

Chefs who use Ghee in their dishes talk about its rich, nutty flavor as well as its many health benefits. For this reason, Ghee is often used as a regular butter substitute for stir-frying, sautéing, and flavoring. 

Natural vs. Processed Ghee

When searching for Ghee in the store, it’s important to read the ingredients label and not fall victim to buying highly processed vegetable “Ghee alternatives”.  Beware — Some of the counterfeit brands may use vegetable oils for their ‘Ghee’ and others may use Buffalo milk and/or the addition of spices such as turmeric, to achieve that bright yellow color which cow’s milk Ghee has naturally. One vegetable Ghee was found to contain up to 40% trans fatty acids which is potentially destructive to the heart. 

Health Benefits

As Julia Child used to say, “With enough butter, anything is good.”

Good it may be, but what about healthy? And if Ghee comes from butter, then how can it be healthy?

Here’s how:

1)  Research shows that Ghee helps to decrease heart disease. … thanks to its abundance of linoleic acid (CLA). This is a fatty acid known to be protective against carcinogens, the contributors to artery plaques and diabetes. 

Another study found that men who ate higher amounts of traditional Ghee had lower incidences of heart disease than those who ate less of it. 

2 ) Ghee has been found to have anti-inflammatory properties. Ancient Ayurvedic medicine used Ghee to treat burns and swelling. A fatty acid in your body known as butyrate is linked to the way your body naturally fights off infection. Another job of butyrate is to soothe inflammation within or on the body. Ghee contains butyrate which directly helps burns and swelling, both internally and topically!   

3) Ghee can help reduce certain digestive issues by reducing ‘leaky gut’ issues and repairing the walls of your stomach and intestines. In fact, patients with intestinal disorders like Crohn’s disease have used Ghee in their diet to help with their discomfort. 

4) Ghee is the perfect choice for those with lactose intolerance, because the milk solids are removed from Ghee and it only contains trace amounts of lactose and milk proteins (casein).  For this same reason, Ghee is a staple on the Paleo diet — a diet that excludes dairy products. 

5) Ghee’s high amount of fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K, is known to support many of the body’s functions —- from the brain to the immune system. 

6) Ghee helps the body absorb other vitamins and minerals from other food products.

So the next time you go to grab the butter while cooking, think again, and grab for the Ghee instead. Remember to check the labels to ensure that you are purchasing a pure product and that Ghee is higher in fat and calories, so a little goes a long way. 

And if you don’t feel like cooking, try these delicious meals or desserts from Healthy Meals Supreme that include Ghee in the recipe.

* Always check with your doctor or healthcare professional before making any changes to your diet or exercise routine.

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