By now, we’re all aware of how important it is to incorporate healthy fats into our diet, especially if you’re a keto follower. A diet rich in quality, nutritious fat helps keep our brains healthy and our bodies vital and energized. Among those healthy fats we should be including in our diets is ghee, a superfood with nutritional benefits that can help you reach your health goals in more ways than one.
What is ghee?
Ghee is clarified butter, or butter that has been heated to a high temperature so that milk solids can be separated and removed. The difference between ghee and butter is that ghee has nearly double the amount of short-chain and medium-chain fatty acids than butter, which are easily converted by the body into energy when compared with long-chain fatty acids. Ghee also has a higher smoke point than butter and many other cooking oils, which means it maintains its molecular structure and doesn’t become rancid at high temperatures when used in high heat. Once clarified, ghee is also free of lactose and casein, compounds that can aggravate those who struggle to digest dairy.
Health Benefits of Ghee
Historically, ghee has been used in Ayurvedic medicine — the Indian sister science of yoga — as a healing oil with many benefits. According to Kripalu.org, Ayurvedic text The Charaka Samhita says that ghee should be used by “those desirous of good eye sight, the old, children, the weak, those desirous of longevity, those desirous of strength, good complexion, voice, nourishment, progeny, tenderness of the body, luster, [life-sustaining vitality], memory, intelligence, power of digestion, wisdom, proper functioning of sense organs, and those afflicted with injuries due to burns.” In Ayurvedic medicine, ghee is used topically as well as taken orally.
Ghee is known for having many health benefits, including and not limited to increased weight loss and reduction of body fat. One potential reason for this is that ghee is high in conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), a fatty acid that has been linked to fat loss. A 2004 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that supplementation with CLA for one year resulted in decreased BMI in both males and females compared to subjects who supplemented with olive oil. Additionally, ghee is exceptionally high in MCT’s (medium-chain triglycerides), which have been shown to increase weight loss and reduce body fat. One 2015 review of studies found that MCT’s reduced waist and hip circumference, total fat composition, and belly fat compared to long-chain triglycerides (like those found in olive oil).
How to Make Ghee
I know what you’re thinking. If ghee is just heated butter, can’t I make it myself? The answer is yes! It really is just as easy as it sounds. All you need to make ghee is a liquid strainer or cheesecloth. It’s best to make ghee with organic, pasture-raised butter, and you can use salted or unsalted butter to your preference. Check out this ghee recipe below:
1. Cut your solid butter into chunks and place in a large sauce pan.
2. Heat pan over medium-low.
3. The butter will start to melt and you will see it separating in the pan, with milk solids falling to the bottom and milk proteins floating to the top.
4. Using a spoon, skim milk proteins from the top and discard.
5. Simmer the butter a bit longer, until you notice the solids at the bottom turning slightly brown. This will give your ghee a slightly nutty flavor. However, make sure it's only slightly browned, not burned!
6. Once your ghee is done, strain it using the cheesecloth over a heatproof container and store. You can store ghee in the refrigerator and use for up to a year, or store at room temperature for up to three months.