For years we’ve been told to avoid fats, particularly saturated fats, like the plague for their association with weight gain and a myriad of diseases and health troubles.
But in recent years, the conversation has swung decidedly in the other direction and everyone from health bloggers to nutritionists have been getting on the fat train. Not all fats mind you- trans fats and refined vegetable oils are definitely still on the outs- but some natural sources have firmly earned their spots in the health and wellness world.
Ghee, a by-product of butter that has been used for thousands of years in the healing science of Ayurveda, is one of the most popular fat sources and after reading this, you’ll definitely want to make it a staple in your own kitchen. We’re going to share exactly why, and how, you’ll want to include it in your diet.
The Fat Myth
But before we get into the benefits, let’s take a look at how fat got to be so demonized in the first place.
In the 1940s, research came out showing a link between high fat diets and high cholesterol levels, which led to the recommendation that adopting a low-fat diet was good for your heart and overall health. Unfortunately, these conclusions were based on flawed studies, but the “myth” persisted for decades. It really took hold in the 1980s when low fat diets became a wildly popular fad, touting the idea that fats make you fat.
Luckily, new research has debunked the fat myth, and the notion that saturated fats clog your arteries and lead to heart disease is becoming a thing of the past. More and more research is showing that lowering saturated fats and cholesterol do not decrease heart disease and stroke and that these fats are actually an important part of a healthy diet.
The Benefits of Saturated Fats
“If you’re living a life with no butter,” says Bulletproof founder, David Asprey, “you are not going to like how your body makes hormones. You need saturated fats in there.”
Asprey popularized Bulletproof Coffee, an energizing blend of coffee, MCT oil and grass-fed butter or ghee.
Because cholesterol and fats have been associated with negative health implications for so long, it can be difficult to wrap our heads around the idea that they’re actually vital to our health. The fact is, our brains- the fattiest organs in our body- are comprised of 60% fat and contain almost a quarter of our bodies’ cholesterol, and we need cholesterol for proper hormone, brain, nerve, and immune function.
Ghee- an Ancient Source of Saturated Fats
Literally thousands of years before Western medicine deemed saturated fats an unhealthy choice, the ancient Indian healing system of Ayurveda was praising it for its amazing health benefits.
Luckily, we in the Western world are now catching up and realizing for ourselves the benefits of adding it to our diet.
So what is ghee? It’s clarified butter, which means butter that has been gently simmered to remove the water and milk solids. It can be purchased in most health food stores or you can make your own at home.
It’s important to note that not all ghee is created equal. You need to start with a high-quality grass-fed butter to ensure that you’re getting the most nutritious ghee possible. In fact, no ghee/butter is better than ghee/butter than come from conventionally farmed cows.
Unfortunately, a lot of the problems that we associate with dairy today aren’t actually caused by the dairy but rather the ways the cows are raised. Most dairy cows today are fed a steady stream or hormones and corn, rather than grass, which is their natural diet. The milk is then pasteurized, homogenized, and pumped with synthetic nutrients in an attempt to restore some of its natural nutrition.
The result is a product devoid of many of the health benefits it originally carried (not to mention a broken and unethical farming system- but that’s a topic for another day!). Additionally, while many people do have sensitivities to milk proteins, some of the negative reactions to dairy actually come from the corn that the cows eat, rather than the dairy itself.
All that to say that if you’re going to be reaping the amazing benefits that these fats have to offer, you need to ensure that you’re consuming only grass-fed products.
A lot of the following benefits can be obtained from grass fed butter as well as grass fed ghee. If you are lactose intolerant or have a sensitivity to dairy, ghee is the better option for you since the milk solids have been removed.
Essential vitamins, minerals, and nutrients
Grass fed ghee and butter containa host of essential nutrients including vitamins A, D, E, and K2 (which are severely lacking in Western diets) as well as chromium, copper, iodine, manganese, and more. A daily dose of butter or ghee is a tasty way of providing your body with these invaluable nutrients!
Not only is ghee highly nutritious but it also aids your body in nutrient absorption, so it packs a double punch.
Butter and ghee contain various healthy fats which serve your body in different ways. A number of short and medium chain fatty acids and omega fats support a healthy immune system and metabolism (that’s right- fats can actually support weight LOSS!).Glycosphingolipid is a type of fat that helps to support your digestive system, and conjugated linoleic acid helps to fight cancer and diabetes and support weight loss.
Ghee, in particular, stimulates the production of stomach acids, which helps to break down your foods and aids in assimilation. It’s also great for helping to soothe ulcers and acid reflux. Butter can have similar benefits but due to its milk proteins, it may not be as supportive and can cause digestive upset for those with sensitivities (more on that next).
Butter vs. Ghee
As we mentioned, ghee is clarified butter, meaning milk solids and excess water have been removed. Butter has a relatively small amount of casein, a milk protein, so those with a mild sensitivity can generally tolerate a high-quality butter.
However, those with a more moderate to high sensitivity will want to avoid casein all together, in which case ghee is the way to go, and some people choose to avoid casein even if they don’t have sensitivities. If you want to make sure that your ghee is 100% casein free, we recommend purchasing rather than making your own to ensure that all of the casein has been removed (good quality ghee is tested for casein residue before being sold).
An additional benefit of ghee is that, because the milk proteins have been removed, ghee has a very high smoke point. This means it’s safe to use in cooking and frying unlike fats and oils with a lower smoke point, which are oxidized and become inflammatory when heated.
Want to up the health benefits even more? Check out the vanilla maple chai ghee here!
Hopefully by now we’ve sold you on the powerful health benefits of ghee, so just one question remains- how do you use it?
Easy! Simply use it any way you would butter or margarine. It’s absolutely delicious on toast or a fresh from the oven muffin, and we can pretty much guarantee you’ll be hooked!