Are Ghee and Clarified Butter Good for You?

Ghee and clarified butter have become one of the mainstream ingredients in the keto kitchen but are they good for your health?


“Eat some, and your colon cells will thank you"

Ghee and clarified butter have been staples in India for centuries now.

They are touted as “healthy fats”.

Ghee, the liquid gold, has been made in South Asian households ever since they learnt how to churn butter.

It is a sacred commodity in India, and the name comes from the Sanskrit word “ghrita”, which means “sprinkle”.

In India, cows are considered holy, hence the sacred tag for this elixir of life.

Although they have been a victim of negative marketing and inconclusive research that label them as high in saturated fats, these healthy jars of butter have emerged as winners.

Ghee and clarified butter have made some noise with positive results in the keto world and understanding – “fat burns fat” to their merits and strengths.

Let us explore if they are good for your health.

What is Ghee, and how is it different from Clarified Butter?

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Ghee is a stable fat that is made from cows that are ranged on grasslands. On the other hand, clarified butter is made from grain-fed cows.

Ghee is made traditionally by culturing the butter with gut-friendly bacteria from curds and simmering on a low heat until it turns nutty and aromatic.

Clarified butter is made by heating any standard sweet cream butter on high heat to clear their milk solids off.

This results in a clear liquid.

As a result, they both are slightly different.

Why Ghee?

Our colon cells thrive on butyric acid, a type of fatty acid known as butyrate.

Ghee has the highest concentration of this acid than any other food source.

Butyric acid is a short-chain fatty acid (SCFA) known to improve gut health by increasing bile production.

Dr Eric Berg, a specialist in healthy keto, says:

“Ghee is like a ‘cheat code’ for giving your gut a big health upgrade.

“Eat some, and your colon cells will thank you for the energy boost.”

A Favourite among Lactose Intolerants

Lactose intolerance happens when the body cannot produce enough of an enzyme called lactase.

Lactase is needed to break down lactose, which is the main carbohydrate in dairy products.

As a result, people with lactose intolerance struggle to digest these milk solids.

Since ghee and clarified butter are stripped of their milk solids, they are a healthy choice for lactose-intolerant people.

They are especially good to have when following a keto diet.

Benefitting People with Gastrointestinal Problems

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People with gastrointestinal problems have decreased capacity to make or absorb butyric acid.

This includes issues like colitis and Crohn’s disease.

Butyrate has been proven to have anti-inflammatory effects on the gut.

As a result, eating ghee can be beneficial as it helps them to improve their gastrointestinal motility.

Dr Umar, an eating disorder consultant from Worcester, says:

“A healthy heart begins with a healthy gut.”

The Negativity surrounding Ghee & Clarified Butter

Some research in western countries have suggested that saturated fats disrupt heart health by clogging arteries.

As ghee is rich in saturated fats, it fell target to these claims.

But saturated fats alone are not enough to demean the consumption of ghee as bad.

They make and balance our hormones, and they give us essential Omega-3 fatty acids, and ghee contains all of these vital components.

Now, there is a standing body of research that says saturated fats are essential energy sources.

Research also says that they make up a substantive part of our cell membranes, brain and nervous system.

Dr Paul Mason, an expert in low carb diets, says: “Saturated fats are not dangerous.”

Ghee may be high in saturated fats, but it has an advantage with its SCFA profile that makes it non-fattening.

It is considered a prebiotic due to its high Omega-3 content, making it similar to eating salmon.

While it is high in calories, Ghee alone does not clog the arteries.

If your triglycerides levels are high due to eating a lot of sugars and carbohydrates, then combining it with ghee puts you at higher risk of atherosclerosis and more heart-related concerns.

Ghee on its own without any starch or sugars is healthy.

A keto diet also proves the benefits of eating ghee and other saturated fats, dismissing the negativity surrounding them.

Helping to Lose Weight

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Ghee contains Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA).

It is a polyunsaturated fat that mobilises the fat cells to shrink down to their original size and increase lean body mass.

They contain fat-soluble vitamins that mobilise the fats within the cells to be used as energy, thereby reducing belly fat.

Besides, ghee is rich in Omega-3 fatty acids that help speed up metabolism and accelerate the fat-burning process.

Also, butyric acid can lower insulin resistance, directly responsible for stubborn weight, aiding in weight loss.

How does its High Smoking Point Benefit?

The smoking point of any fat or oil is the temperature at which it starts to break down into free fatty acids.

This produces visible smoke and can release chemicals that give food an undesirable burnt or bitter flavour.

It can also release harmful compounds that can have a negative effect on health.

Ghee has a very smoking point, at around 250°C.

As it is rich in saturated fatty acids, it remains stable when subjected to high temperatures, unlike other fats and oils.

Ghee over Other Oils

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When any fat or oil is heated to high temperatures, a toxic chemical substance called acrylamide is released.

This can cause negative health effects and even has the potential to cause cancer.

Due to its high smoking point, ghee produces less of this substance due to its ability to remain stable at high temperatures.

On the other hand, vegetable oils are high in omega-6 fatty acids, which may cause inflammation and perhaps even free radicals.

According to a study by Pubmed Central, Ghee produced 10 times less acrylamide than soybean oil.

Therefore, ghee has a distinct advantage over any other oils when it comes to frying and roasting.

The Preferred Fat during Keto

A ketogenic, or keto diet involves a low intake of carbohydrates and lots of good saturated fats.

Due to being high in saturated fat, people opt for ghee.

This is because its short-chain fatty acids are metabolised differently than long-chain fatty acids.

SCFAs are produced by the friendly bacteria in the gut and are the primary source of nutrition for the colon cells to thrive.

SCFAs are readily absorbed and utilised by the body for the energy they bypass going into the liver, therefore helping digestion.

A tablespoon of ghee contains 14 grams of fat, with at least 25% medium-chain triglycerides, commonly known as MCTs.

MCTs are a type of fat that may boost fat burning as well as raise ketone levels.

The more digestible the fat is, the better the accessibility of the energy that puts an individual into a state of ketosis, helping them lose weight.

Hence ghee is a great option to go for when following a keto diet.

When it comes to ghee and clarified butter, moderation is the key to healthy eating.

This Desi staple has stood the test of time, providing nutrition and supporting a keto diet.

Ghee and clarified butter are now starting to make waves in the west for the right reasons.

So, if you are following a keto diet or want to incorporate healthy fats into your diet, include ghee and clarified butter.

Hasin is a Desi food blogger, a mindful nutritionist with a Masters in IT, keen to bridge the gap between traditional diets and mainstream nutrition. Long walks, crochet and her favourite quote, “Where there’s tea, there’s love”, sums it all.