When it comes to ghee on a Paleo diet, there’s a bit of confusion on whether it’s OK to eat. So, what is ghee, exactly? Here’s the lowdown on this unique dairy product.
Since ghee is a dairy-based food, which is typically a Paleo no-no, it’s easy to assume that it causes the same tummy troubles as milk or butter. However, ghee is quite different from other dairy products, and offers many natural health benefits.
Rest assured that ghee isn’t your regular stick of butter, and here’s why.
What is Ghee?
Ghee is often made from cow’s milk and also referred to as clarified butter. While similar, clarified butter and ghee are slightly different. Unlike clarified butter, ghee is cooked to a point of caramelization after all the milk solids and water have been separated from the liquid fat.
Is Ghee Paleo?
Since ghee is sourced from dairy, many people wonder why it’s Paleo-approved. This is because when ghee is made, the milk solids are separated from the fat, so the end product has very little milk solids. That also explains why ghee has more of a golden color than regular butter.
Ghee is also free from lactose and casein, making it a better option than butter for people who are lactose intolerant. Casein is a protein in milk that many people have a hard time tolerating, and can result in bloating and indigestion. Studies also link dairy products containing these proteins to an increased risk of cancer.
So, is ghee Paleo? Yes, so long as you are sticking to a high-quality, grass-fed, and organic product that is free from other vegetable oils and added ingredients.
7 Natural Benefits of Ghee
Ghee Supports Digestive Health
Since ghee doesn’t contain lactose and casein, those with mild lactose sensitivities usually have no trouble with ghee. Ghee is also rich in butyric acid, which can help support gut health by reducing intestinal inflammation, easing conditions like Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
Ghee Promotes Healthy Weight Loss
Similar to coconut oil, ghee contains medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) that can help aid in weight loss. Studies show that MCTs are more helpful in reducing waist circumference and bodyweight when compared to long-chain triglycerides.
Ghee Supports a Healthy Pregnancy
One of the little-known benefits of adding ghee to your diet is its ability to help support a healthy pregnancy. Ghee is rich with DHA, an essential fatty acid that plays a super important role in supporting fetal development of the nervous system, immune system, brain, and eyes.
Ghee is Rich in Essential Vitamins
Ghee is rich in fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K – all of which play a crucial role in overall health. Vitamin D is needed for hormone and mood balance, vitamin K transports calcium to our bones, and vitamin E prevents free radical damage in the body. Vitamin A is also important for both vision and immune health.
Adding ghee to your diet can be a great way to make sure you are getting these important vitamins in your diet.
Ghee Has a Higher Smoke Point Than Butter
Because it has a higher smoke point than butter, ghee is an excellent choice for high-heat cooking. This is important because cooking oils beyond their smoke points can cause the oil to oxidize, releasing free radicals that can cause a cascade of inflammation.
Ghee has a smoke point of 485°F, whereas butter has a smoke point of 350°F. This makes butter only suitable for low to medium-heat cooking.
Ghee Contains Healthy Fats
Since ghee is pure butterfat, it is a very rich source of healthy dietary fat that contains both short and medium-chain triglycerides. We know that medium-chain fatty acids play an important role in maintaining a healthy weight and supporting energy levels, but short-chain fatty acids are also beneficial for overall health as well.
Ghee Supports Brain Health
Nearly 60% of the brain is made up of fat, and the brain needs lots of healthy fat to function properly. Essential fatty acids (like DHA) are fats that we must obtain from our diet since the body cannot synthesize these fatty acids on its own. These fats are great for mental development and for the overall integrity and health of the brain.
How to Use Ghee
One of the great things about ghee is the fact that it can easily be swapped in for butter in any recipe. Try using ghee for Paleo-approved baking recipes, or use it as your primary cooking oil when making things like omelets and stir-frys.
Mild, nutty ghee can be added to your diet in a number of different ways. Here are some delicious ways to add it to your meals:
- Use it to sauté veggies and meats
- Swap it in baking recipes instead of butter
- Spread on baked savory goods
- Mix into your morning cup of coffee
- Drizzle over roasted vegetables
The Importance of Buying a High-Quality Ghee
Ghee is great, but just like everything else, quality is king. Make sure that you stick to high-quality ghee made from grass-fed butter, which ensures that the cows were not fed an inflammatory diet of grains, corn, or soy. Choose organic ghee to ensure that the milk came from cows that were not treated with antibiotics.
Another thing to look out for is added ingredients. Check the label to make sure that the product only contains pure ghee and is free from added vegetable oils or sweeteners.
Some excellent organic and grass-fed ghee options include the following brands:
- Ancient Organics Organic Ghee – Grass Fed
- Viva Naturals Organic Ghee – Grass Fed
- Fourth & Heart Grass-Fed Ghee
How to Make Ghee
While ghee is widely available in stores and online, the best way to enjoy it will be to make it yourself. Don’t worry, it’s fairly simple.
If you’re feeling up to the task, check out our easy, homemade ghee recipe here.
The Bottom Line
If you like butter, consider giving ghee a try. It’s free from the milk proteins that can cause digestive issues, and since it’s pure fat, you get that buttery taste with none of the health problems.
Use it to cook, bake, or as a healthy topping to your favorite baked goods. You’ll get a flavor boost while providing your body with important vitamins and healthy fats that support a healthy digestive system.
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Written by Rebecca Jacobs
Rebecca Jacobs N.C is a Certified Holistic Nutrition Consultant, specializing in digestive and women’s health. She takes a holistic approach to wellness, doesn’t believe in “dieting,” and believes that healthy eating must be delicious. Rebecca is also a recipe developer and creates healthy alternatives to traditionally unhealthy foods.
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