The debate on which is healthier between ghee and butter has been raging for ages. There are staunch supporters on both sides who will vehemently argue the benefits of either butter or ghee. But what do people in the medicinal field have to say? Is one indeed better than the other?
Butter – Preparation and Benefits
The first written reference of butter was found on an old limestone tablet that is 4500 plus years old. Butter is made by churning milk and separating the solids (butterfat) from the liquid (buttermilk). Butter contains a high concentration of fat that gives it its rich and creamy texture. Butter is often used as a substitute for oil in cooking, especially when it comes to sautéing vegetables because it adds a unique and pleasing flavour to foods. It is an indispensable ingredient in baking as well.
Over the years, some people have replaced butter with margarine. However, margarine hasn’t been proven to be healthier than butter. Butter, after all, is a natural fat.
Despite being used extensively all over the world, butter has always been at the centre of controversy. Some claim that its fat content will amp up your cholesterol level, but did you know that it is not as villainous as it is portrayed to be?
The benefits of butter include
- Butter contains some important nutrients such as Vitamin A, Vitamin E, antioxidants, riboflavin, phosphorus, and calcium.
- It can protect your cells from free radicals, boost your immunity, improve your vision, and increases your chances of preventing the onset of breast and stomach cancer.
- It contains mostly saturated fats, which, contrary to popular notions, have no link with heart conditions. New research shows that fats in butter may drag down your chances of contracting heart diseases.
- Butter helps in improving adrenal and thyroid health.
- It protects us against weakening arteries.
- Butter protects against tooth decay.
- Butter has been known to be a source of Activator X that helps our body to absorb minerals.
- This is a source of quick energy for our body. Read more about 9 energy giving foods to include in your diet
Ghee – Preparation and Benefits
Ghee is actually a derivative of butter. It is clarified butter. When butter is heated, it allows milk to break away from the fats. The milk portion then caramelizes, and the oil that is left behind is ghee. The impurities from the surface are gotten rid of, and the clear liquid fat is retained.
It is a staple of sub-continental cuisine. It even finds mention in ancient ayurvedic texts. Like butter, ghee has faced its share of backlash. But ghee too has several benefits-
- When you cook with ghee, it ensures that you are not exposed to carcinogens. Most oils, when heated, produce free radicals that can trigger cancers of different kinds.
- It hydrates your skin and hair.
- Ghee is entirely natural. Due to its low moisture content, ghee’s shelf life is quite long.
- Ghee has cancer-fighting CLA (Conjugated Linoleic Acid). CLA has been found to combat cardiovascular diseases as well as cancer.
- Ghee is a nutritional powerhouse.
- It boasts of anti-inflammatory properties. In Ayurvedic medicine, ghee was copiously used to treat swelling and burns. It contains butyrate that soothes inflammation. It also helps in healing and repairing stomach lining that is useful to people who have Crohn’s disease. Read more on 10 anti-inflammatory foods
- Since it is free of milk solids, people who are lactose intolerant can consume it.
- Like butter, ghee contains Vitamins A and E. It also contains Vitamins D and K.
If both butter and ghee are nutritionally similar, which should you opt for?
Ghee vs. Butter
There are slight differences between the two products other than how they are produced. Ghee contains fewer milk proteins than butter. So, if you are relying on dairy products for your source of proteins, butter would be a better option for you. On the other hand, people who are allergic to milk cannot consume butter, so ghee is something they can opt for.
Ghee has a higher fat and calorie content. But the difference is marginal. One tablespoon of ghee has about 115 calories and 14.9 grams of fat. Ghee is rich in fatty acids. The ratio of omega- 3 to omega- 6 fatty acids in ghee is considered ideal but only in pure ghee. One tablespoon of salted butter has about 100 calories and 11.52 grams of fat. The calories in one tablespoon of butter equals an entire banana.
Essentially, you have to look beyond the nutritional profile of the two to figure out which is more suitable for you.
First of all, the two have very distinctly different flavours. Go for the one whose essence you prefer.
Secondly, ghee has a higher smoking point (252 degrees Celsius) than butter (177 degrees Celsius). So it can withstand more heat and would not stick to the bottom of your cooking pan, which makes it ideal for sautéing.
People who are sensitive to lactose and casein can opt for ghee- it has a lesser content of both. What we can conclude is that both butter and ghee are a preferable substitute to most other cooking oils as they both produce less acrylamide when heated- a chemical that ups the risk of cancer. While both ghee and butter should be consumed in controlled amounts, one needn’t exile them from their diet until absolutely necessary. Both can be used based on preferences.
So, analyze your taste and culinary requirements to decide which to opt for.