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Butter Vs Ghee: Which Is Better For Your Health?

Both butter and ghee have been used in kitchens for centuries. Ghee is a commonly used product in Indian and Middle Eastern cuisine, religious rituals, and traditional medicines. On the other hand, butter is also considered a reputed dairy product prepared by churning the cream until its fats break down and solidify to form butter.

Ghee and butter differ in many ways like taste, processing and texture. Many people consider ghee as a superfood as it contains good fats which are healthy for guts and skin while butter is considered healthier because of its low calories content. Let's scroll down to know more about both of them.

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Difference Between Ghee And Butter

Several aspects differentiate ghee and butter. Here are some of the factors which will help you understand the difference between the two and choose the best one for your health.

1. Nutritional Value

100 g of ghee contains 0.24 g water and 876 kcal energy. It also contains 0.28 g protein, 4 mg calcium, 3 mg phosphorus, 22.3 mg choline, 840 mcg vitamin A, 824 mcg retinol (vitamin A1), 2.8 mg vitamin E, 8.6 mcg vitamin K, 193 mcg carotene (beta) along with vitamin B12, vitamin B6 and vitamin B3. The important constituent in ghee is a fatty acid that helps improve the body's metabolism. [1]

On the other hand, 100 g of salted butter contains 16.17 g water and 717 kcal energy along with 0.85 g protein, 24 mg calcium, 24 mg phosphorus, 684 mcg vitamin A, 671 mcg retinol, 158 mcg carotene (beta) along with some amount of fatty acids.

2. Processing

Both ghee and butter are derived from cow's milk. Ghee can easily be prepared at home from malai (clotted cream obtained after boiling the milk). Stir the malai for long in low temperature so as to separate the solid part (butterfat) and liquid part (buttermilk). One can also make ghee from unsalted butter available in the market. Melt the butter at low temperature and take off the solid part from the surface. Allow it to cook until the liquid is separated and has come up while the milk solids have gathered at the bottom. Wait until the milk solids turn brown as they give ghee its colour and flavour.

Butter is prepared by first converting the cow's milk into cream by the process called centrifugation in which it is rotated at high speed inside the machine. The cream that is produced undergoes the process of churning in which it is beaten and shaken to make it thick. The liquid portion (buttermilk) of the cream is separated while the solid part is the butter. The solid part is actually the broken fats particles which have joined together to make a thick consistency, just as the butter needs.

3. Allergic reactions

Ghee does not contain any milk solid as it is completely removed during the preparation. With no milk protein, ghee is considered best for people who have lactose intolerance. In the case of butter, dairy protein (casein) is present which can trigger an allergic reaction to people with lactose intolerance and cause symptoms like rashes, itching and asthmatic symptoms.

4. Taste

As ghee and butter are prepared in different ways, their taste differs from one another. Ghee slightly tastes sweeter, roasted and has a nutty flavour. The high smoke point of ghee, 250-degree Celcius makes it suitable for frying foods. On the other hand, the smoke point of butter is 150-degree Celcius which is why it is a great choice for sauteing and quick-cooking meats and vegetables. Butter tastes slightly sour, acidic tangy and cheesy. Mostly it does not have its own flavour but adds to the flavour of the food in which it is used.

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Health Benefits Of Ghee

Ghee has several health benefits. Common health benefits of ghee are as follows:

1. Prevents cancer

Ghee contains vitamin E, one of the most powerful antioxidants that help to reduce the oxidative stress in the body. Another reason is that at high temperature, many oils tend to break down and release carcinogenic free radicals. As ghee has a high smoking point, it cannot be easily broken into free radicals and hence, protects us from the risk of cancer.

2. Low in lactose

Ghee is prepared in such a way that the milk part gets separated from it which is higher in sugar compound called lactose. This makes it qualified for people who have lactose intolerance. A study shows that ghee has almost negligible levels of lactose. [2]

3. Good for heart

According to the American Heart Association, limited consumption of ghee (less than 7%) can help to prevent cardiovascular diseases. The study also says that up to 10% of dietary ghee helps in lowering the cholesterol and lipoprotein levels. [3]

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Health Benefits Of Butter

1. Improves gastrointestinal function

Butter contains a special type of fatty acids called glycosphingolipids that help protect the gastrointestinal system against bacterial infections and other related disorders. [4]

2. Improves thyroid health

Many people face thyroid-related problems due to deficiency of vitamin A in the body. Butter is rich in vitamin A that helps in the proper functioning and secretion of hormones by the thyroid gland. [5]

3. Prevent arthritis

Butter contains a special compound called Wulzen Factor, also known as an anti-stiffness factor. It reverses the calcification symptoms and protects bones against arthritis, cataracts and pineal gland calcification. [6]

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Which One To Choose?

The nutritional profile of both ghee and butter are almost the same. However, ghee is good for health from some aspect while butter is the best from other aspects. They both are the kings in their own ways with very little downsides. Choosing ghee over butter or vice versa totally depends on an individual's choice and preference.

Story first published: Thursday, January 30, 2020, 8:30 [IST]