Ghee vs. Butter: Which is better?

Health Benefits of Ghee

Heart disease is increasing throughout the world and has become a public health concern. The saturated fat found in many foods, including ghee, have been implicated in this rise.

Most of the studies on ghee have been done on animals with few human studies to draw actionable conclusions. However, some of the studies indicate that saturated fats may not be the sole cause for heart disease.

  1. Potential Heart-Health Benefits

Up until a few decades ago, countries with a high amount of ghee in the diet had lower occurrences of heart disease. Those numbers seem to be increasing, and researchers are wondering if ghee is the culprit. Not exactly.

The 2010 study in Ayu references previous studies in rats fed ghee diets, and their cholesterol levels and triglycerides decreased, but other studies were not able to duplicate the results. Human studies referenced were inconclusive, with one showing a decrease in cholesterol and another showing no difference.

  1. Lower in Lactose

For those with lactose intolerance, ghee may be a welcomed substitution for butter. Lactose is the type of sugar found in dairy products, including butter. A 2015 study published in Molecular Genetics and Metabolism found that ghee had almost undetectable levels of lactose. The lactose levels in butter were 685 milligrams, and ghee samples had between 0.5 and 2.9 milligrams.

Health Benefits of Butter

  1. Lower in Trans Fat

When the low-fat craze became all the rage, butter was replaced by margarines that were loaded with sugar, salt and trans fat. Trans fat is largely found in shelf-stable foods and is identified in an ingredient list by the words “partially hydrogenated.”

Eating trans fat has been linked to an increased risk of coronary heart disease, according to a 2017 study in Nutrients. The USDA indicates that butter contains 0.47 grams of natural trans fat per tablespoon.

There has been a shift in thinking in terms of types of fat. A 2015 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that saturated fat in butter raised cholesterol levels, both good and bad, whereas trans fat raises bad cholesterol and lowers good cholesterol.

It’s still better to choose unsaturated fats, such as olive oil, canola oil or avocados, but butter is a step above margarines containing trans fat.

  1. Type 2 Diabetes Benefits

Butter is on more neutral territory these days in terms of health. While it doesn’t seem to increase or decrease the risk of heart disease, small amounts of butter in controlled studies have seen a reduced risk of Type 2 diabetes.

Researchers in a 2016 study in Plos One attributed the reduced risk to some of the nutritional properties of butter, including vitamin D content and a small link between full-fat dairy and increased insulin sensitivity.

However, it’s important to note that the study didn’t compare butter with other fats, only with general foods in the diet. And the researchers make a point to add that, even with the findings, there’s no need to increase or decrease the amount of butter in the diet.

Nutritional value of Ghee & Butter

For one tablespoon of butter, there are 102 calories, .1 gram of protein, 11.5 grams of fat, and 7.3 grams of saturated fat.

For the same amount of ghee, there are 112 calories, .04 grams of protein, 12.73 grams of fat and 7.9 grams of saturated fat.

Creation process

Ghee is derived from butter where the pure butterfat is cooked longer. The moisture is removed in the process and the milk solids are caramelized and then filtered out. Ghee simmers longer than any other clarified butter, which gives it a nutty flavor.

Butter is made with fat from raw cow’s milk that has been separated from the rest of the liquid. The fat, called butter cream, is pasteurized and then churned to create a butter. In the process, the butter solid is separated from excess liquid, called buttermilk, which is the milk used in ice cream. The butter is only ready after churning for over an hour and salt is added.