Ghee is a healthier alternative to traditional butter and is packed with beneficial properties. Let’s see what it is good for and how it is used in the kitchen.
Butter is a food rich in fat used as a condiment, which however in recent years we have tried to limit as much as possible. The nutritional guidelines, in fact, suggest us to prefer different condiments due to the content of saturated fatty acids present in the butter. These fatty acids should be limited due to their possible negative role in cardiovascular diseases.
In recent times, however, we hear very frequently about clarified butter and ghee butter, products that are obtained from butter and which are suggested as functional foods for the treatment of some diseases.
Clarified butter and ghee butter: what they are and differences
Clarified butter is a food that is derived from butter through a process called clarification. This procedure allows to separate the lipid part of the butter from the proteins and any remaining sugars.
Clarified butter is therefore an even richer food in lipids than common butter; however, it does not contain butter proteins or lactose and therefore can be used with confidence even by those who suffer from lactose intolerance or who do not want to consume milk proteins, including the so-called caseins, which are annoying if some diseases such as autoimmune ones.
In addition to the “classic” clarified butter, we can also find ghee butter, a product that is obtained through an even longer and more meticulous cooking of clarified butter and is typical of Ayurveda tradition and medicine. The benefits, however, may be comparable, although ghee butter retains more nutritional properties. Therefore, ghee butter and ghee are not exactly the same product.
Clarified butter: nutritional values and calories
The nutritional values of clarified butter are not very different from those of traditional cow butter. The only difference is that the butter contains a liquid component, equal to about 20% of the product, which is lost during the clarification process.
Clarified butter therefore contains about 100 g of lipids per 100 g of product, compared to the 80-85 g of fats found in traditional butter. Consequently, clarified butter also has more calories than traditional butter (100 grams of clarified butter contain about 900 calories). Most of these fats are saturated fats, many of which are short-chain fatty acids, substances not stored by our body but used for energy purposes, but which possess excellent properties, as we will learn more in the next paragraph.
From the point of view of vitamins, we point out that clarified butter is an important source of vitamin A. In the following table we report the nutritional values of clarified butter according to the investigations carried out by the American FDA.
Nutritional values per 100g of clarified butter:
- Waterfall: 0.5 gr
- kcal: 900
- Proteins: 0 g
- Total fat: 100 g
- Saturated fats: 60 g
- Polyunsaturated fats: 4 g
- Cholesterol: 300 mg
- Vitamin A: 4000 IU
- Fibers: 0 g
- Carbohydrates: 0 g
Clarified butter: what is it good for? Properties and health benefits
As we have anticipated, clarified butter in recent years is considered a functional food and recommended for its properties. It appears to act as an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant, as well as nourishing intestinal cells. Furthermore, ghee butter is a food of the Ayurvedic tradition which considers it useful for detoxification and cell repair. In the remainder of this paragraph we would like to show you the properties of clarified butter which have been demonstrated through scientific studies and research.
✓ Useful against high cholesterol and triglycerides
According to some authors, the consumption of ghee butter (in doses not exceeding 10% of total calories) is useful for improving the level of total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol and triglycerides. In one study, for example, there was a 25% decrease in the value of triglycerides and a decrease of 14-16% in the value of total cholesterol. Furthermore, the level of arachidonic acid (an intermediate with pro-inflammatory properties) was decreased in the case of using ghee butter as the only fat.
✓ Improvement of psoriasis
A study carried out on patients with psoriasis in order to evaluate a possible improvement of the lipid profile with a diet based on ghee butter showed that the nutritional modification was also linked to an improvement in erythema, a decrease in itching and a general improvement. skin conditions. The authors explain this improvement with ghee butter’s ability to lower the levels of inflammatory molecules.
✓ Improvement in case of acute pancreatitis
A preliminary study has shown that the anti- inflammatory properties of ghee butter can also be applied in case of acute pancreatitis. Bovine colostrum and its derivatives also contain substances useful to support cell regeneration.
✓ Improvement in case of intestinal problems
Several studies have shown that butyric acid, a short-chain fatty acid, plays a key role in certain intestinal diseases. In fact, it turns out to be the main energy source of intestinal cells. Butyric acid is present in good quantities in ghee butter which is therefore recommended in case of inflammatory bowel diseases or in case of irritable bowel syndrome.
Clarified butter and traditional butter: differences and which one to choose
Ghee and traditional butter can be used in cooking in a similar way. The difference between butter and clarified butter is therefore not related to the method of use but to the nutritional properties.
First of all, clarified butter is completely lactose-free and therefore can be used with greater peace of mind in case of intolerance to this sugar. Furthermore, clarified butter does not contain casein or other cow’s milk proteins, considered inflammatory substances and therefore limited in some nutritional regimens, such as those dedicated to autoimmune diseases.
Clarified butter contains more fats than traditional butter: these fats are considered useful for intestinal well-being and, moreover, clarified butter seems to have less negative effects on the lipid profile (cholesterol and triglycerides) of the consumer.
How much clarified butter to use?
The amount of clarified butter to use depends on the conditions of each of us: any pathologies, physical activity performed and energy needs. Considering a standard normocaloric diet and the suggestions of our guidelines, the correct amount of clarified butter to use could be equal to 10-20 grams per day.
How to use ghee in cooking
The clarified butter can be used in a similar way to the traditional one: no changes in terms of quantity are necessary and it is used for both sweet and savory preparations. It should also be emphasized that the smoke point of clarified butter is higher than that of traditional butter (the smoke point is about 250 ° C) and therefore clarified butter is preferable in case of cooking (e.g. frying or cooking in a pan). The flavor is a little sweeter, richer and tending to a taste reminiscent of walnuts. In addition, ghee butter can also be used in place of oil if this is not available.
How to replace clarified butter
To replace clarified butter in a recipe or preparation, the simplest choice is to use traditional butter. The quantities are the same and the processing of clarified butter can be similar to the processing of traditional butter, even if in some cases the clarified butter is less solid than the traditional one because it is kept at room temperature.
If you want to replace this animal-derived product with a source of vegetable fats, you can choose from all the possible alternatives: margarine, olive oil, seed oil, etc. Among all the proposals to prefer extra virgin olive oil and high oleic sunflower oil, as they are the richest vegetable products in beneficial properties. Also in this case the quantities to be used are the same as for clarified butter.
However, be careful in the case of frying as the fats we have talked about do not have the same smoke point: it will in fact be easier to fry with clarified butter, while you will have to be more careful not to burn traditional butter or oils.
How to make ghee butter at home
For the production of homemade ghee butter, a clarification must be carried out: it therefore means that we will have to cook the butter to eliminate the aqueous part of the traditional butter and keep only the lipid component. First of all, we recommend choosing a stick of excellent quality butter, where possible made from the milk of cows reared on pasture.
So the clarified butter is made starting from the melting of the butter in a bain-marie; during this cooking it will also be necessary to eliminate the foam or the white parts that emerge on the surface: in this regard it is possible to use both a spoon and a skimmer. When the white parts disappear and the liquid begins to darken, we can turn off the fire and start the second phase of ghee production.
In this second phase we will have to filter the product obtained, which we will pour into a glass jar, thanks to the use of gauze or a dense mesh strainer: it is important to be careful not to spill the final part, which is more liquid and rich in proteins, which will have settled to the bottom. Once you have finished this step, let the clarified butter cool, then store it in the refrigerator or at room temperature.
Clarified butter: the possible contraindications
We have seen the different benefits of clarified butter and we have described how this food is considered a functional food and therefore suggested in some nutritional regimens, especially those suggested in the case of some pathologies.
It is therefore inevitable to ask ourselves if there are any contraindications to the use of this condiment or if we can consume it without limits. The advice is always to pay attention: first of all we suggest you follow the instructions of the specialist who follows you. Considering the properties of clarified butter and its use in case of pathologies, we do not recommend “do it yourself”.
In any case, it is possible to use clarified butter in limited quantities with peace of mind, alternating this dressing with extra virgin olive oil, which also has numerous nutritional properties. Compared to traditional butter, in fact, clarified butter is also safer on the lipid profile.
Where do you buy ghee butter?
Ghee butter and ghee can be purchased, where you don’t have the time or desire to clarify butter at home. Clarified butter can now be bought in all supermarkets: we find it in the same butter and cream department. In organic supermarkets or on some online sites we can also find ghee butter, generally preserved in jars. This product can be stored out of the refrigerator and is the one that preserves and possesses the greatest nutritional properties and can therefore be considered the best clarified butter.