Melt some butter and simmer until milk solids settle to the bottom, then separate the golden liquid from the solids on the bottom, and voila: you just made ghee.
Also known as clarified butter, “ghee has been used for thousands of years in India as part of Ayurvedic remedies and traditional cuisine as well as for religious purposes,” he explains. Vandana Sheth, RDN, CDCES, FAND, Registered Dietitian Dietitian and Author My Indian Table: Quick and Delicious Vegetarian Recipes.
Ghee has become more popular in the United States in recent years, and there is some confusion about how healthy ghee is, particularly how it compares to standard butter.
Here’s what you need to know about ghee versus butter.
Feeding ghee vs butter
If you look at the nutrition facts for ghee versus butter, you won’t see much difference.
According to the USDA FoodData Central:
teaspoon ghee It provides 41 calories, 5 grams of fat, and 3 grams of saturated fat.
a teaspoon of butter It provides 34 calories, 4 grams of fat, and 2 grams of saturated fat.
(Serving size is only 1 teaspoon of ghee or butter.)
However, butter contains about half a gram of trans fat per tablespoon, while margarine contains no trans fat, says Sheth.
Some say the saturated fatty acid profiles of margarine and butter differ, but according to the USDA, the composition of saturated fats is nearly identical.
Which is healthier: ghee or butter?
Since there is very little difference between ghee and butter nutritionally, neither is healthier (or less healthy) for you.
While both are fats, remember that “fat is an important part of our diets; we need it in moderation,” says dietitian and nutritionist. Galpa ShethRD, CDN.
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020-2025 states that you should conserve fat 20% to 35% of your calories.
This means about 33 to 58 grams of fat per day if you eat 1,500 calories per day.
(However, most of these fats will likely come from other, more nutritionally balanced sources.)
One aspect of ghee that may make it “healthy” for some people is the low amount of lactose.
Although both butter and ghee come from milk, since you’re filtering out the milk solids to make ghee, clarified liquid butter is virtually lactose-free, says Vandana Sheth.
This means that people who are lactose intolerant or sensitive to lactose may tolerate ghee better.
When should you choose ghee versus butter?
The biggest difference between these two types of fat is in the taste features of ghee versus butter.
Ghee has a rich nutty flavour. It also has a distinctive smell.
While you probably won’t notice the smell of butter in the pan, you will discover that ghee is cooking and you may notice it in the dishes you make.
Ghee flavor added to it high smoke point (450 degrees Fahrenheit compared to 302 degrees Fahrenheit) makes it better than butter in some cooking situations, like those below:
- sauteed vegetables
- cooking eggs
- Making grilled cheese
- Pour over vegetables before roasting
- dripping on popcorn
- Used to dip sauce in place of butter
To see if you like the taste of ghee, Galpa Sheth suggests trying a teaspoon on a carb like rice or butter.
As a bonus, this addition of fat will help keep blood sugar levels more stable after eating carbs, she adds.