Growing up in Egypt, we were always told that the most fattening of all foods was the heavy but oh so flavorful local ghee. It was a given that anything made with ghee automatically piled on the calories and was ultimately detrimental to your health. In some cases this was true because no matter how much we love feteer meshaltet, there is no argument, rhyme or reason for it’s presence on our plates.
But what if we told you that this is actually a huge misconception? That ghee is one of the most misunderstood and misrepresented local foods there is? That we shouldn’t have turned our noses up at the old ways or mocked our ancestors, who as it transpired, were right to be using ghee all along? There is a fine line, of course, between consuming a reckless amount to cook outrageously unhealthy meals and using it consciously with a mind towards its nutritional value as opposed to it’s significantly more processed alternative: butter. Replacing your ghee with butter is actually not as healthy a choice as we have been led to believe.
What’s the difference between Butter and Ghee?
Ghee, also known as clarified butter, is pure butterfat that has been cooked longer to remove all the moisture and milk solids. Butter, on the other hand, contains butterfat, milk solids and water.
Which is healthier: Butter or Ghee?
Nutrition-wise, butter and ghee are very similar, the main differences being that, ghee is free from any lactose or casein, and rich in short-chain and medium-chain fatty acids, whereas butter is not, thereby, making ghee a better and digestion-friendly option for people who are lactose or casein-sensitive. Butter has whey, casein (milk protein) and lactose (milk sugar) which causes problems such as allergies, intolerances or digestion issues for some people.
While ghee is a healthier alternative to butter, it still contains a high saturated fat content, and is nutritionally similar to butter. Ghee has been associated with a few health benefits, however, such as having a higher smoking point than most cooking oil, lowering in cholesterol levels, and containing anti-inflammatory properties and cancer-fighting fatty acid CLA that also helps with weight loss. This doesn’t mean that ghee should be consumed on a daily basis, in excessive amounts, you still need to be very mindful of the quantities you use it in or else it ends up piling on calories, saturated fat and it loses it’s beneficial nutritional value.