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Ghee – a healthier alternative to butter?

In today’s health conscious world, the old food favourites that have been consumed for centuries are getting something of a makeover. As well as ingredients being altered to become a little healthier, alternatives are becoming more readily available with substitutes from all over the world being introduced into our kitchens. One such alternative is ghee. Touted as a healthy alternative to butter, ghee is transforming the way people eat.

Ghee may not be a new thing, but the growing popularity of this eastern classic in the western world has made it one health trend that’s been difficult to shake in recent years. In this blog post, we explore all things ghee and dig deeper into whether it’s a healthy alternative that’s here to stay or just a passing trend.

What exactly is ghee?

Ghee is a clarified butter that’s been used in Indian culture for thousands of years. It has long been referred to as ‘liquid gold’ thanks to its protein and casein free consistency. Ghee is now made worldwide, with most ghee products found in the UK hailing from Holland, Scandinavia, and Australia.

Ghee is traditionally made from the milk of water buffaloes. However, more and more ghee varieties use cow’s milk as their base just like the butter we know and love. Ghee may taste similar to butter, but that’s where the similarities end.

During production all the milk solids that make butter butter are removed, a process that makes ghee clear and entirely different in comparison. In addition, ghee also has a higher burning point than butter, a quality that makes it great for frying and contributes to its strong, nutty flavour.

Why use ghee?

Ghee may be more calorific and contain more fat than butter but it’s the type of fat that remains which makes ghee a healthier alternative. Ghee contains more butyric acid and short-chain saturated fats, all of which have been proven to lower inflammation and promote better gut health. The lack of milk sugar lactose and milk protein casein makes it a great choice for those with allergies or sensitivities to dairy.

Ghee is tastier too. The enhanced nutrients pack a more intense flavour, which really adds to the taste of many different dishes and recipes. We mentioned its high burning point, and because of that, ghee doesn’t burn as easily as butter. Unlike butter, ghee can be stored unrefrigerated for a long period of time. Ghee can also be made at home, just follow this simple recipe from Wellness Mama.

How should I use ghee?

Ghee should be used in exactly the same way as butter. It’s particularly great as an oil substitute when cooking stir-frys and can be added to baked sweet potatoes, eggs, roasted vegetables, and other bowls of goodness to create a delicious savory taste sensation.

Ghee is wonderful for cooking on the go too, and is a favourite when travelling, camping, or even visiting the beach as it can be kept and enjoyed at room temperature (no plug in fridge required !). You should however be cautious when using ghee as a butter substitute in baking. Its higher density means lesser quantities of ghee may be required and ghee cannot be creamed in the same way as butter can.

Ghee shouldn’t just be used for cooking either. It has many plus-points for your health and beauty. It can be used as a hair mask, body oil or cuticle softener. It can also be used to soothe minor burns and grazes as Well+Good details:

“Detailed research in India based on Ayurvedic practices found that a combination of honey and ghee, used with a gauze dressing, effectively addressed certain types of wounds (notably, those of ulcers). Ghee is free of water and, in Ayurvedic medicine, noted to have healing properties; the pH of honey is slightly acidic and osmotic. Ghee helps the honey maintain its bacteriostatic, anti-microbial, healing, and pain-relieving benefits and acts as a carrier for them.”

So, is ghee healthier than butter?

Ghee is a natural food that has been around for centuries, and for good reason. When compared to butter, it unlocks many more advantages. Evidence to back up all these health benefits however is limited. It’s important to recognise that like butter, ghee should be consumed in moderation to ensure a healthy diet.

Personally, I love the taste of ghee as it adds a slightly cheesy, savoury flavour which really lends itself to stir-fried veggie dishes and eggs.

Whether you love ghee or are using it for the first time, my turmeric scrambled veggies recipe is a must-try. How do you like to use ghee? I’d love to know! Leave a comment below telling us your favourite recipe.

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