“With enough butter, anything is good.” Julia Child
If you grew up in my generation then you have heard your television utter the words, “I can’t believe it’s not butter!” a few million times. Perhaps that should have been our first warning, but in the rush to lower cholesterol in our diets, we dashed to buy up margarine instead of butter.
Now we have a better understanding of the difference between LDL (low-density lipoprotein) and HDL (high-density lipoprotein). Simply lowering cholesterol turned out to be an oversimplification that led to increased intake of synthesized foods rather than natural solutions.
Lets start with a basic understanding of what margarine, butter and ghee are:
Margarine is artificially hardened vegetable oil. The oil is hardened using nickel or cadmium catalyst, both of which are toxic to our bodies. Up until recently, margarine also contained trans fats resulting as a by product of the process. As trans fats were found to raise LDL, they were banned in 2015 with a compliance deadline of 2018. It should be noted that some companies were given extensions until January 2020.
Butter is a dairy product made from the fat contained in milk. The quality of the milk determines the quality of the butter. Many feel strongly that cows that feed on GMO (Genetically Modified Organisms) result in butter that is less than natural. Consequently, you will find dairies that proudly announce that they are grass-fed operations. While butter is all natural, it’s ingredients may not be! Taking time to make sure your butter came from an organization who prioritizes healthy cows over profits is a bit of extra work that pays health dividends.
Ghee is “clarified butter”. The water and milk solids are removed by a low heat, slow cooking process that keeps nutrients intact. This reduction means that the fat concentration in ghee is higher than in butter, while calories are nearly identical to butter. Ghee has recently become popular in the United States due to the keto diet. In India, ghee has been both a dietary and medicinal staple for centuries.
Which is the better butter? For starters, margarine of today is NOT a natural product. The removal of trans fats didn’t mean that margarine became a “close to the earth” food. Rather, it became a safer artificially processed synthesis that may or may not have additional health concerns. Time will tell.
If you would rather not wait on science to answer the margarine question, you can find solace in the fact that butter is no longer deemed evil by nutritionists. While eating it out of moderation can cause LDL levels to rise, finding a better balance will help remove risk. Here is where ghee becomes increasingly interesting. Research has shown that ghee slightly decreases LDL rates in addition to other health benefits.
According to Dr. Axe, ghee is a great source for fat-soluble vitamins, is free of almost all lactose, full of CLA (Conjugated Linoleic Acid) and can help with your gut health. Further benefits may apply, but it is important for you to use this short article as a jumping off point and do your own research.
My house is a no margarine zone. We do use both butter and ghee. All things being equal, I am intrigued by ghee and want to get to know it better. Even in the time I spent researching all three I am pulled in that direction. So, what do you think…which is the Better Butter?!