What’s Healthier- Cow Ghee or Butter?
Ghee and butter have similar properties; for starters, both contain fats and are essentially a dairy product.
They can, to a large extent, be used interchangeably. For instance, you could apply either ghee or butter onto your morning parathas. Interestingly, with such close similarities, there is a great amount of difference between the two.
After being labeled as unhealthy and weight-gaining for years, ghee has finally made a comeback in the dietary scenario. Ghee is essentially a form of Indianised butter which is highly-clarified. The clarification process removes the milk solids and reduces the lactose content in ghee.
Butter, on the other hand, is available to us in many forms- unsalted, salted, low butterfat, high butterfat, cultured, uncultured and American or European. Butter is manufactured by segregating the cream from milk. The cream is then churned to strain any extra liquid thus resulting in butter.
How is Cow Ghee different from Butter?
Presence of Lactose
Cow ghee is fundamentally butter without milk solids. It is produced by melting regular butter. The heating process separates all the milk solids and liquid fats, which makes ghee a form of butter that is clarified and is lesser in lactose content.
If you feel bloated or have stomach aches every time you eat a dairy product, you are probably lactose intolerant. This means you cannot consume any milk-based product, including butter.
Since ghee is made after the removal of milk solids, it can prove to be an excellent alternative as you might not face any of the above symptoms after its consumption.
One of the major differentiating factors between the two is their smoke point. For cooking at higher temperatures, ghee is a better option as it does not destroy inherent nutrients. While butter has a smoke point of 177 degrees Celsius, ghee can withstand heat up to 252 degrees Celsius.
When oils are heated past their smoke point, their fats start to break down, which leads to the release of harmful free radicals including acrolein. Acrolein is a chemical substance that is the reason behind the acrid flavor and aroma of burnt food.
Therefore, the higher the smoke point of a fat, the more the number of cooking methods you can use it for. Thus, ghee naturally proves to be more suitable for cooking, especially for sautéing, deep frying and baking.
Protein and Nutrient Content
Butter is mainly made up of 3 components- fats, milk solids, and water. A 100 gm of butter contains 0.9 gm of protein.
Casein, a protein found in butter, is the reason behind its creaminess. However, it takes a long time to get digested and can be tough on your stomach. Once butter is heated in order to make ghee, most of the water evaporates and the milk solids get separated and ultimately burn. Therefore, ghee ends up having little or no casein at all, which makes it a simpler alternative than butter.
Cow ghee contains Vitamin K and fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, and E, which promote heart health, gut health and help in body weight management. It also contains butyrate acid and CLA, which aid in cutting down fats.
Butter is mainly made up of fats, and that is why consuming it in regulated amounts is necessary. Excessive butter intake can invite several health issues such as hypertension, obesity and heart diseases.
When it comes to storage requirements, ghee makes our life so much easier. It can be easily stored in bottles at room temperature. Refrigeration isn’t required to store ghee. Once opened, a pure cow ghee bottle can be used up to 9 months.
On the other hand, butter cannot be stored at room temperature. It needs to be refrigerated and wrapped in foil in order for it to not pick up flavors from any kind of food it is being stored with. If kept outside the refrigerator, the butter can go rancid.
Talking about flavor, cow ghee has a nuttier texture and a sweet aroma. It is capable of holding strong spices and flavors which is one of the major reasons it is so widely used in Indian dishes.
Butter, on the other hand, is salty and creamier. Butter is capable of retaining flavors as well, but when it comes to its versatility, its application is limited in comparison to ghee.
The application of ghee in the world of cooking is quite widespread. From being used for tempering (tadka) in your delicious daal, to serving as an oil base for your cake batter, ghee is very much flexible and could be incorporated in a number of dishes and cuisines.
Butter is majorly used as a baking ingredient, as a spread on bakery products and as a condiment on cooked vegetables. It is also used for pan frying and for making sauce.
When we compare cooking with butter to cooking with desi cow ghee, ghee can be used in a variety of dishes as base oil or as an additive for flavor. Whereas, the usage of butter is comparatively limited.
If we take all the factors into consideration, we will be able to notice that although both ghee and butter do not seem to have many differences, there are some very crucial distinguishing factors between them. For instance, the lack of lactose protein in ghee makes it very suitable for people who are lactose intolerant, and the high smoke point gives us the flexibility to cook at a high temperature. This does not leave any trace of burnt flavor left behind or destroy essential nutrients of the food.
With a hectic life filled with responsibilities and commitments, it gets hard to stop and look at such tiny aspects of our lives. Therefore, a little attention to what we consume, no matter how small its portion is, can prove to be remarkably beneficial for us over time and can help us take a step towards a healthier and better life.