You are currently viewing Ghee


  • Post comments:0 Comments
  • Reading time:10 mins read

Ghee, also known as ghrita, is a non-destructive cow product that is widely produced and consumed in India. There have also been reports of the production of products similar to ghee in countries such as Sudan, Ethiopia, Uganda, and the Middle East.

What is ghee?

Ghee is a type of clarified butter. Clarified butter is milk fat that is converted from butter using a process called rendering. Rendering is a process that is used by animal processing plants to recuperate animal waste or by-products in the form of meat, bones, and fat and convert them into other usable products. It is a recycling of what would have been considered as waste at one point in time. The aim of rendering is to minimise overall waste and to increase revenue. 

There are two types of rendering, edible rendering and inedible rendering:

  • Edible rendering processes animal by-products into stable and edible fats and proteins that can be consumed by humans. 
  • Inedible rendering processes animal by-products into products, such as tallow which is used to make soap, candles, and ointments.  

The edible rendering process is employed by animal processing plants to purify animal fat using heat and pressure into a stable and edible product like clarified butter (or ghee). This process involves melting animal fat and then using steam to separate the fat from the water and nonfat solid.   

How is ghee made?

You can make ghee at home by heating butter (or milk or even cream) in temperatures above 100 degree celsius in order to evaporate the water and to precipitate the non-fat (or milk) solids. When all the water has evaporated and all the non-fat solids have settled at the bottom, what remains will be clarified butter or ghee. The non-fat solids at the bottom are caramelised or burned to give ghee a nutty and toasted flavour. 

In a nutshell, ghee is a lipophilic dairy product which contains about 98.9% lipids, 0.3% water and less than 0.9% non-fat solid. It is a good source of lipophilic vitamins such as Vitamin A and E as well as saturated and unsaturated fats.

Is ghee better than butter?

The answer is that it depends on who you ask. For people who are lactose intolerant ghee is better as it virtually has no milk in it. But for people who get most of their protein from milk butter is better.  

Ghee is best when cooking food at high heat. Most cooking oils, such as coconut oil, sesame seed oil, and olive oil are made using a cold press process which involves crushing and pressing seeds or nuts to extract the oils, and then bottling the oils and selling it as it is. This oil making process ensures that you get most, if not all, the minerals and enzymes contained in the plant. But these oils tend to have a low smoke point of about 360 degrees. This means when cooking with these oils using high heat the fat will break down resulting in the loss of nutrients and a release of free radicals. A buildup of these free radicals in the body can increase the chances of getting cancer and other degenerative diseases, because free radicals damage body cells. Ghee has a smoke point of about 482 degrees, making it appropriate for cooking with high heat. However, when cooking food with low heat, then ghee is not really necessary. 

Lastly, for butter to remain fresh it must be kept refrigerated. In places where refrigerators are not available ghee is the best alternative as it can stay fresh for months without refrigeration.

Types of ghee

Ghee can be made from the fat of various animals, such as buffaloes, cows, goats and sheep. Producing buffalo ghee, cow ghee, goat ghee, and sheep ghee.  

The type of ghee depends on the diet of the animal. The type of diet that an animal consumes will determine the quality of oils extracted from that animal. The animals that consume a grass-based diet will produce grass-fed ghee and those fed a grain-based diet will produce grain-fed ghee.

Grass-fed ghee is ghee made from free-range animals that were fed grass. This type of ghee is considered better than grain-fed ghee, since animals that are fed grains may also be given anabolic steroids to promote growth. There are also different types or grades of grass-fed ghee, that range in things like the conditions under which the animals were kept, whether the grass for feeding was genetically modified, whether artificial colourings, flavours, or preservatives were added, and so on. 

The benefits and uses of ghee in Ayurveda:

According to an article by Kumar et al., (2018), ghee has the following health benefits:

  • It is rich in vitamin K2 and Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA), an antioxidant with antiviral and anticancer properties. This is provided that the ghee is grass-fed. Meaning the CLA is probably not present in significant amounts in grain-fed ghee..
  • Ghee has medium chain fatty acids (MCFAs) that are absorbed directly by the liver and burned to provide energy, this is most beneficial to athletes as this can be a consistent source of energy. This can also be useful when trying to lose weight as well. 
  • Ghee contains butyric acid, a short chain fatty acid, which helps with digestion. According to the article, the stomach converts the fibre that we eat into butyric acid that is used for energy, intestinal wall support, and to aid the production of gut cells that promote a strong immune system. 
  • Ghee is used along with other products for wound healing purposes. For example, ghee mixed with honey is used in dressing infected wounds. 
  • The consumption of ghee reduces the risk factors of cardiovascular diseases.
  • Ghee enemas are used to reduce inflammation.
  • Ghee stimulates the secretion of gastric acid to help with digestion. 
  • Ghee is considered a satvic food. In Ayurveda, satvic foods are foods that are healthy and light and believed to promote growth, positivity, and the expansion of consciousness. 
  • In the Hindu culture, cows are domestic animals considered sacred and special and ghee from the cow is said to contain the sacred and special energy of cows. 
  • Lastly, ghee is used as a carrier in the preparation of a number of ayurvedic herbal products.   

References and further reading:

  • Andrewes, P., 2012. Changes in Maillard reaction products in ghee during storage. Food Chemistry, 135(3), pp. 921-928.
  • Antony, B., Sharma, S., Mehta, B. M., Ratnam, K., & Aparnathi, K. D., 2018. Study of Fourier transform near infrared (FT-NIR) spectra of ghee (anhydrous milk fat). International Journal of Dairy Technology, 71(2), pp. 484-490.
  • El-Shourbagy, G. A., & El-Zahar, K. M., 2014. Oxidative stability of ghee as affected by natural antioxidants extracted from food processing wastes. Annals of Agricultural Science, 59(2), pp. 213-220.
  • Kumar, A., Tripathi, S., Hans, N., Pattnaik, H.S.N. and Naik, S.N., 2018. Ghee: Its properties, importance and health benefits. Lipid Universe, 6, pp.6-14.
  • Midwest Research Institute. 1995. Emission Factor Documentation for AP-42 Section 9.5.3, Meat Rendering Plants, 1995 (Final Report). Retrieved from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency website:
  • Sharma, H., Zhang, X., & Dwivedi, C., 2010. The effect of ghee (clarified butter) on serum lipid levels and microsomal lipid peroxidation. International Quarterly Journal of Research in Ayurveda, 31(2), pp. 134-140.
  • Sieber, R., 2005. Oxidised cholesterol in milk and dairy products. International Dairy Journal, 15(3), pp. 191-206.
  • Sharma, H., Zhang, X., & Dwivedi, C., 2010. The effect of ghee (clarified butter) on serum lipid levels and microsomal lipid peroxidation. International Quarterly Journal of Research in Ayurveda, 31(2), pp. 134-140.
  • Udwadia, T.E., 2011. Ghee and honey dressing for infected wounds. Indian Journal of Surgery, 73, pp.278-283.

Leave a Reply