Ghee Vs. Butter: Health Benefits, Preparation, And Risks

Written by Sindhu Koganti, BTech (Biotechnology), Diploma In Nutrition

Ghee and butter are age-old ingredients that can change the texture and flavor of any dish you add them to. These two milk-derived ingredients exhibit excellent aromatic properties and are also known for their health benefits. But what are the differences between ghee and butter? While their preparation is easy and they can last for up to a year if stored properly, they do have a few important differences.

This article explores the differences between ghee and butter, their health benefits, nutrition profile, risks, and their methods of preparation. Keep reading to know more.

Ghee Vs. Butter?

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, one tablespoon of ghee and butter contains (1), (2):

Ghee  Butter
Calories123100
Protein0.039g0.119g
Fat13.9g11.4g
Saturatedfat8.67g7.19g
Monounsaturatedfat4.02g2.94g
Polyunsaturatedfat0.517g0.426g
Carbohydrates00.008g
Calcium0.56 mg3.36 mg
Potassium0.7 mg3.36 mg
Sodium0.28 mg90 mg
Vitamin A118 µg95.8 µg
Vitamin E0.392 mg0.325 mg
Vitamin K1.2 µg0.98 µg

Ghee has more calories and fat values than butter. The saturated fatty acid concentration of both ghee and butter makes them handle high temperatures. Ghee has a higher smoke point and can stand up to 485°F (252°C). It is ideal for sautéing or frying at a higher temperature. However, butter can only stand up to 350°F (177°C), and is suitable for baking and cooking at lower temperatures.

Ghee produces less acrylamide (a chemical formed when some foods are heated at high temperatures) compared to other oils. This chemical is linked with cancer risk (3). However, more studies are needed to prove this claim. Ghee is also casein- and lactose-free, whereas butter contains small amounts of each. Hence, ghee is the best option for people who are sensitive to casein and lactose.
Note: Ghee and butter share only minor differences, and choosing one over the other may not affect your health.

Ghee is a staple across many cuisines. But does it benefit your health? Continue reading to discover the reasons you should consume ghee.

Health Benefits Of Ghee

Ghee contains omega-3 fatty acids, which help protect the heart by reducing triglyceride levels and blood pressure (4),(5). These fatty acids also decrease inflammation, which may help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease (6).

Ghee is also a rich source of butyric acid, a short-chain fatty acid that helps reduce inflammation and oxidative damage, improve digestive health, and prevent the risk of colon cancer (7), (8). The conjugated linoleic acid present in ghee may also help reduce the risk of obesity, cancer, atherosclerosis (plaque buildup in arteries), and cardiovascular disease (9), (10).

However, consuming ghee in excess may also pose a risk to heart health. Keep reading to know more.

Risks Associated With Ghee

High saturated fat increases LDL cholesterol levels in the body (11). Hence, people who want to reduce their LDL cholesterol concentrations should limit ghee intake to 1 to 2 tablespoons per day. The production of ghee at high heat causes cholesterol oxidation, which may increase the risk of coronary heart disease (12).

These are the health benefits and risks associated with ghee intake. In the following section, we discuss how consuming butter can benefit your health.

Health Benefits Of Butter

Studies suggest that consuming high-fat dairy foods in moderation is inversely associated with obesity risk (13).

A study conducted by the University of Oslo (Norway) found that intake of milk fat (butter) may help reduce the risk of myocardial infarction (blockage of blood flow to the heart muscle) (14). It is also believed to reduce the risk of a first event of stroke (15). Moreover, each serving (14 g) of butter may help decrease type2 diabetes risk by 4% (16).

It is important to consume butter in moderation to reap all these benefits. However, excess butter intake can also have adverse effects.

Risks Associated With Butter

A study conducted by the University of Cambridge (UK) linked daily intake of 50 grams of dietary saturated fat with coronary heart disease (17). Another study by the University of Copenhagen (Denmark) found that people with hypercholesterolemia (high blood cholesterol levels) should limit their butter consumption (18). Moreover, butter contains allergenic whey proteins that cause allergic reactions (19). Hence, people with milk allergy should maintain caution.

Preparing both ghee and butter is easy as they don’t require more than one ingredient. Here are some simple steps to follow.

How Are Ghee And Butter Made?

How To Prepare Ghee?

What You Need

Unsalted butter: 1 pound (454g)

Process

  1. Cut the butter into cubes and melt them in a large skillet or pot on low heat. Bring to a simmer.
  2. Remove any foam or milk solids that float to the surface using a slotted spoon.
  3. Allow the ghee to cook for 15–20 minutes until the milk solids begin sinking to the bottom and turn deep golden.
  4. The ghee should also become very fragrant, with a rich, nutty aroma.
  5. Turn off the heat once it is ready. Let it cool for a few minutes.
  6. Strain using a cheesecloth or coffee filter into a glass container with a lid.
  7. Homemade ghee can be stored at room temperature for 3-4 months or refrigerated for up to 1 year.

How To Prepare Butter?

What You Need

  • Pure cream – 1.2 liter

Note: You can use any heavy cream, whipping cream, or homemade cream containing at least 35% milk for best results.

Process

  1. Beat the cream using a hand beater, stand mixer, or food processor.
  2. Once stiff peaks appear, continue to beat further on low speed for another 10 minutes.
  3. The whipped cream collapses and decreases in volume.
  4. Keep beating until the cream turns yellowish.
  5. The water separates after 20 minutes, resulting in butter and buttermilk.
  6. Scrape the edges and collect the butter to make a ball squeezing off the water.
  7. Squeeze and rinse in ice-cold water to remove any buttermilk.
  8. Shape the butter and wrap it in butter paper.
  9. Refrigerate for four hours to harden. You can use it for two weeks.

This is how easily you can prepare ghee and butter at home. But how do you store them? Keep scrolling to know.

How To Store Ghee And Butter?

Ghee (unopened jar) can last up to nine months if you store it in an airtight container in a dark place. If unsealed, it can stay up to six months at room temperature and up to a year if refrigerated.

Butter stays fresh for longer if refrigerated. It can stay fresh for up to eight weeks if left unwrapped. Use it within three weeks once you open the wrap. Also, the oxidation process may cause the butter to go rancid. Hence, do not leave it out for more than a couple of days or a week. Butter can last for up to a year if stored in the freezer.

Takeaway

Both ghee and butter are nutritionally similar and offer several health benefits if consumed in moderation. Ghee contains omega-3 fatty acids that help reduce the risk of heart disease. It also contains butyric acid, which may improve digestive health and reduce the risk of colon cancer. Similarly, butter may help reduce the risk of obesity, first event of stroke, and type 2 diabetes. However, ghee is considered a healthier option as it is lactose- and casein-free. Check your portion sizes while consuming ghee and butter to avoid adverse effects.

Key Takeaways

  • Both butter and ghee are good for health if consumed moderately.
  • Ghee has omega-3 fatty acids, which protect the heart by decreasing blood pressure and triglyceride levels.
  • If refrigerated, butter can remain fresh longer.

Sources

Articles on StyleCraze are backed by verified information from peer-reviewed and academic research papers, reputed organizations, research institutions, and medical associations to ensure accuracy and relevance. Read our editorial policy to learn more.

  1. ’Ghee\’ clarified butter
    https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/1103844/nutrients
  2. ’Butter\’ NFS
    https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/1103822/nutrients
  3. Dietary Acrylamide and Human Cancer: A Systematic Review of Literature
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC4164905/
  4. Docosahexaenoic acid content is significantly higher in ghrita prepared by traditional Ayurvedic method
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC4061595/
  5. Omega-3 fatty acids and cardiovascular disease
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25720716/
  6. Omega-3 fatty acids and inflammatory processes: from molecules to man
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28900017/
  7. Potential beneficial effects of butyrate in intestinal and extraintestinal diseases
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC3070119/
  8. Butyric acid – a well-known molecule revisited
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC5497138/
  9. ’Conjugated Linoleic Acid Effects on Cancer\’ \’Obesity\’ and Atherosclerosis: A Review of Pre-Clinical and Human Trials with Current Perspectives
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC6413010/
  10. High conjugated linoleic acid enriched ghee (clarified butter) increases the antioxidant and antiatherogenic potency in female Wistar rats
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC3766171/
  11. Effects of dietary saturated fat on LDL subclasses and apolipoprotein CIII in men
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC3491165/
  12. Circulating Oxidized Low-Density Lipoprotein is a Strong Risk Factor for the Early Stage of Coronary Heart Disease
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30414358/
  13. ’The relationship between high-fat dairy consumption and obesity\’ \’cardiovascular\’ and metabolic disease
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22810464/
  14. ’Intake of milk fat\’ reflected in adipose tissue fatty acids and risk of myocardial infarction: a case-control study
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16267503/
  15. Stroke and plasma markers of milk fat intake–a prospective nested case-control study
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19457271/
  16. Is Butter Back? A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Butter Consumption and Risk of \’Cardiovascular Disease\’ \’Diabetes\’ and Total Mortality
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC4927102/
  17. ’Randomised trial of coconut oil\’ olive oil or butter on blood lipids and other cardiovascular risk factors in healthy men and women
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29511019/
  18. Butter increased total and LDL cholesterol compared with olive oil but resulted in higher HDL cholesterol compared with a habitual diet
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26135349/
  19. Comparison of Allergic Parameters between Whey Protein Concentrate and Its Hydrolysate in Rat Basophilic Leukemia (RBL)-2H3 Cells
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC6131379/

 

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