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What Is Ghee?

You're likely to have heard about "ghee" by now, the latest trend in butter that seems to be popping up everywhere, from bulletproof coffee and baked goods to veggie sides and sauces. Beyond the name, there's also skepticism about the potential health benefits. This makes sense, as ghee is basically a fancier term for butter. Here's everything you need to know about ghee.

What is it?

Ghee is clarified butter, or butter that has been simmered and strained to remove all water. In France, clarified butter has uncooked milk solids, yielding a product with a very clean, sweet flavor. In comparison, ghee is cooked over low heat until the milk solids have a chance to start to brown lightly, creating a slightly nutty, caramelized vibe. It is shelf-stable, with a high smoke point and deeply nutty flavor. Ghee has played a key role in Ayurveda for centuries, where it's prized for its anti-inflammatory, digestive, and therapeutic properties.

How to use ghee?

Ghee is great for deep or pan frying. It can be used when toasting spices, as opposed to dry roasting, when making authentic Indian dishes. This technique results in a richer version of the spice's original flavor. Ghee can be thought of simply as a more durable, more flavorful butter replacement, and can be used as a condiment you spread on toast or toss with vegetables. A more traditional variation of ghee worth trying is flavored ghee, made by adding ginger, peppercorns, cumin, or other spices at the very beginning of the clarifying process.

Here are some of the most important benefits of ghee.

1. Lactose-Free

Ghee is both lactose- and casein-free. Both of these elements of butter are removed during the process. Because of this, ghee can often be enjoyed by those who cannot consume other dairy products. Be aware that this is not the case for all lactose intolerant people, and check with your doctor before consuming if you have dairy allergies or sensitivities.

2. Packed with Fat-Soluble Vitamins

Adding a few servings of ghee into your day is an excellent way to squeeze in some extra fat-soluble vitamins. Ghee can help boost your intake of vitamin A, vitamin E and vitamin K, very important nutrients that play a role in everything from maintaining healthy vision to keeping your skin glowing. This can be especially crucial if you suffer from any conditions like leaky gut syndrome, IBS or Crohn’s, as your body may have difficulty absorbing these fat-soluble vitamins. Ghee benefits your health by providing a boost of these nutrients to help you meet your daily needs.

3. Good Source of Vitamins K, A, and E

When made from quality butter, ghee is also a great source of fat-soluble vitamins, including vitamins K, A, and E. Since the volume is reduced, the concentration of these vitamins is increased. Moreover, with all the healthy fats, the required co-nutrients to help absorption are right there with the vitamins.

4. Contains Conjugated Linoleic Acid

Ghee is jam-packed with conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), a fatty acid associated with a long list of health benefits. Recent studies have found that CLA may be effective in reducing body fat, preventing cancer formation, alleviating inflammation and even lowering blood pressure. Keep in mind that grass-fed dairy provides a higher concentration of this important fatty acid. Opt for grass-fed ghee whenever possible, or be sure to use grass-fed butter if you’re making ghee at home.

5. Higher Smoking Point

Since it cooks at a higher point than almost any other oil, it won’t break into free radicals like other ones. Free radicals can potentially be harmful to one’s health, and when oil smokes, it can be hazardous to a person's respiratory system if constantly breathed in.

If enjoyed in moderate amounts, most research indicates that ghee can make a nutritious addition to the diet. For best results, pair it with a balanced diet and other heart-healthy fats, like coconut oil and olive oil.