Recently, I’ve been hearing and reading more about ghee in mainstream media. I started to wonder if this is becoming the new “coconut oil?” So I decided to step out of my cooking comfort zone with my usual use of olive and coconut oils and see what the hype is all about!
Basically, ghee is a form of clarified butter that is commonly used in Middle Eastern cuisine. The main difference is the process by which ghee is made. Compared to traditional clarified butter, the cooking time is extended so more of the moisture is eliminated. This also causes the milk solids to caramelize and ultimately be removed. This is especially good if you have difficulty digesting dairy, as it may be better tolerated than traditional clarified butter.
Once the heated butter is cooled, the top layer is skimmed off providing you with the final product – ghee. It can be used just like butter and is especially good for sautéing and pan-fryingsince it has a high smoke point. Want to try it yourself? Here is a recipe.
So, yes, this sounds like a great cooking tool, however the dietitian in me could not push aside the fact that this is still primarily a saturated fat. I wanted to know how could I use this in my kitchen in a healthful way? The answer is moderation, of course. Using no more than 1-2 tablespoons at a time and using this along with other heart-healthy fats, such as olive oil, allow you to healthfully incorporate it into your diet.
Finally, it is worth noting that the saturated fat in ghee is made up of about 25% short- and medium-chain fatty acids. We know these types of fatty acids are metabolized different than long-chain fatty acids and therefore do not carry the same cardiovascular risk. Traditional butter contains only 12-15% short- and medium-chain fatty acids.
Why do you love ghee?
Erin DeMito, RD, LDN