The Benefits of Ghee vs. Coconut Oil: A Comparison
There are so many natural substances out there that it can be difficult to decide which one is the best to use for certain purposes. Some are acclaimed by many to be the absolute best, while others may claim that another substance is actually much better for the same things. Overall, choosing natural substances is always better, but there are still some more choices to make after that.
Comparing substances to each other is the best way to determine which will be the best to use out of the choices available. Today we are looking at the relative benefits of two very different types of cooking fat – ghee and coconut oil. If you would like to find out which is better and what are the drawbacks of each, read on.
What Is Ghee?
You may not have ever heard of ghee, but you’re actually more familiar with it than you may think. At least, you are familiar with its cousin. Essentially, ghee is just a type of clarified butter. It originated in India and was often used in traditional Indian dishes. Nowadays, it is very popular in Paleo diets, and people often add it to their cup of coffee in the morning for added richness.
So ghee is a type of clarified butter, but what does that actually mean? Clarified butter is just unsalted butter that is exposed to gentle heat. As the butter is heated, the milk solids are separated and any foam is skimmed from the top of the surface. The liquid that is left is now clarified butter, which doesn’t spoil as quickly and has a higher smoke point than regular butter. This means that it’s better to cook with.
With that said, ghee goes even further than just that process; think of it like an ultra-clarified butter. Once the milk solids have been separated, the remaining butter liquid continues to simmer to remove any remaining moisture. When all of the moisture has simmered away and the milk solids have browned lightly, you get ghee.
Ghee has a nutty taste that almost resembles caramel. Its aroma is very similar, and these are what makes ghee so recognizable. As mentioned, ghee is great for cooking because of its higher smoke point. With that said, it is also better for people with sensitivities to lactose, as the milk solids have been removed from the butter.
While the majority of people with lactose intolerance can handle ghee well, those with serious dairy allergies may still be unable to consume ghee, as it is still a dairy product.
Benefits of Ghee
One of the biggest benefits of ghee, as mentioned, is that it is generally okay for consumption by people who have an intolerance to lactose. It is still a dairy product though, so you should speak with your doctor first before trying ghee if you know that you have a dairy allergy. Another benefit is that ghee lasts much longer than “regular” butter does, and it actually doesn’t need to be refrigerated. Some ghee mixtures have even been noted to last up to one hundred years.
Ghee also provides many health benefits, but the specific benefits will mostly depend on the quality of the milk that was used to produce ghee in the first place. This is why it’s important to only use organic, grass-fed milk to produce ghee, if you’re making it on your own. If you’re purchasing ghee, try to only purchase it from reputable companies who have guaranteed that the milk they use for production is both organic and grass-fed.
Studies have shown that ghee actually helps to lubricate the connective tissue in the body. This lubrication could help promote better flexibility, which is why ghee is often consumed by people who do yoga or other physical stretching activities. Ghee is also rich in vitamins, including vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin E, and vitamin K. These vitamins help improve bone quality and brain health, and they also provide a healthy boost to your immune system.
When ghee is consumed, it turns fiber into butyric acid within the body, which helps bacteria present in the intestines. This contributes to a healthy digestive tract, an increase in appetite, and better health overall. It may also help people who are trying to lose weight. Ghee that is produced from grass-fed cow milk contains the fatty acid called conjugated linolenic acid, which also helps encourage weight loss.
Drawbacks of Ghee
There are very few drawbacks to cooking with ghee especially when compared to cooking with butter. However, it can be slightly heavy especially for people with weaker than normal digestive systems.
Another thing to look out for is the type of ghee that you are buying. Many available products are made with a mix of raw butter and ghee and they are not necessarily ideal. Try to make sure you are buying pure ghee which is far more nutritious and is less likely to cause issues for those with dairy intolerance.
What Is Coconut Oil?
As the name suggests, coconut oil is an oil that is extracted from a coconut. You are undoubtedly familiar with coconut oil, as it has become incredibly popular in recent years. It is especially popular in skin care and hair care products, with uses similar to those of shea butter, except it’s more oily. Coconut oil cools into a solid easily, which is mostly how it is used; however, it can be heated up to a typical oil consistency.
There are actually different types of coconut oil, depending on how the oil was extracted and whether or not it was processed. Partially hydrogenated coconut oil is very harmful, as it is highly processed and contains trans fats. It’s advised that you do not use these. Similarly, refined coconut oil is extracted from coconut meat that has been chemically bleached and deodorized.
Instead, it is suggested that you only use virgin coconut oil to guarantee that you’re using oil extracted from fresh, mature coconut meat. Virgin coconut oil shouldn’t be produced with any high temperatures or chemical processes and is, therefore, a much better option in comparison to the other types. Overall, some people are against the heavy use of coconut oil, regardless of the type, due to its high levels of saturated fats. With that said, a study in 2015 actually showed that saturated fats may not be as bad as we have made them out to be in the past.
Benefits of Coconut Oil
When you get past the slight controversy concerning saturated fats, coconut oil actually provides a lot of significant health and beauty benefits. To start, it contains fewer calories than most other fats; it may not be by a lot, but this may be a big difference to people who are carefully tracking their intake. Otherwise, the benefits range everywhere from heart health to beautiful hair.
Internally, coconut oil provides many medicinal benefits. The healthy saturated fats contained in coconut oil can help boost your body’s ability to burn fat and provide more energy. They can also raise the levels of good cholesterol in your body, which can help reduce your risk of heart disease.
Coconut oil may also help kill microorganisms that are harmful to the body. It contains high concentrations of lauric acid, which forms another substance, called monolaurin, after being digested. Both of these substances have been previously shown in scientific studies to kill various pathogens, such as bacteria, viruses, and fungi. Specifically, they have been noted to kill Staphylococcus aureus, which is a very harmful pathogen, and Candida albicans, which is a very common type of yeast infection.
The same healthy fatty acids mentioned earlier may also have a positive effect in reducing seizures or treating epilepsy. A ketogenic diet, which uses little carbs and a lot of fat, has been shown to help treat many disorders, including seizures and epilepsy. The fatty acids found in coconut oil are turned into ketones within the liver, so they are commonly used in treatments for patients with epilepsy.
Drawbacks of Coconut Oil
When comparing coconut oil to ghee, the main downside of coconut oil is that it lacks the vitamin content of ghee. In particular it is much lower in Vitamins A and D and K.
Some people may also find the taste of coconut oil difficult to get used to. Fresh coconut oil is naturally slightly sweet which does not necessarily work well with certain foods. Of course, this all depends on your own personal preferences.
Coconut oil is a very healthy fat that has been consumed by humans for thousands of years but every person’s metabolism is unique. It may not be suitable for people who are very underweight or prone to anxiety.
Coconut oil gets digested then absorbed by the body very quickly and may actually speed up a metabolism that is already fast.This can result in unwanted spurts of heightened energy and this can lead to the nervous system becoming over stimulated.
Some Notes on Dairy Intolerance
Many people have an intolerance to dairy. The main reason for this is that dairy is a relatively new type of food especially when compared to plant oils like coconut oil. In fact, humans did not begin consuming dairy until they started to domesticate farm animals. It was during this Neolithic age around 10,000 years ago that people realized that milk from yaks, goats and sheep could be used and had certain benefits.
We know today that consuming raw and fermented milk is better for your health since the fermentation process makes the milk easier for the human body to digest. There is evidence that fermented dairy was being consumed as far back as biblical times.
The Neolithic period sounds like a very long time ago but when it comes to evolutionary time scales, 10,000 years is not a long period of time. While milk and dairy is popular in the West, it is still not consumed very much in certain parts of the world which explains why so many people remain intolerant.
Today, intolerance to dairy is still very common but varies from country to country. In Europe, around 5% of the population are estimated to be intolerant to dairy products. (1) While dairy appears to be tolerable for the vast majority of people, a number of people will still develop lactose intolerance after childhood. The best thing to do is keep an eye on your body’s response to consuming dairy.
Ghee and Dairy Intolerance
Although ghee is made from butter,it does is very well tolerated even by people with an intolerance to dairy. It is far superior to butter and is extremely high in Vitamin A,D and K. What makes ghee so great is that all the proteins and sugars get cooked out of the butter leaving just an easily digestible, nutritious fat.
In addition to its nutritional profile and it’s high smoke point, cooking with ghee makes sense since raw butterfat contains the healthy type of bacteria that supports your gut’s health.
Ghee vs. Coconut Oil
Ghee and coconut oil are often compared for their similar health benefits. Many people like to say that one is ultimately better than the other, but that would actually depend more on what your goals are for using each substance. For example, people who are trying to lose weight may be better using coconut oil instead of ghee. People looking to gain weight would be better with ghee.
Ghee is also better than coconut oil for nutrition, as it contains a lot of vitamins that coconut oil does not. If you’re looking for something that specifically provides antifungal properties, however, coconut oil would be a more appropriate choice.
Outside of nutrition, some people may prefer ghee over coconut oil for its milder taste, as coconut oil may have a strong taste that some people dislike.
Overall, coconut oil and ghee are both significantly great natural substances, and each of the two provides a long list of health benefits that could be good for any person. Coconut oil, in particular, is very versatile in that it can also be used for cosmetic purposes. With that said, it will ultimately be up to you to decide which substance is better, and that decision will depend on what kind of results and benefits you’re looking for.
If you are having trouble deciding which substance will be better for you and your particular circumstances, you may want to consult with a holistic healthcare practitioner. These professionals are more familiar with natural substances and how they affect the body, so they may be able to better advise you of a decision regarding which is the better substance for you.
If you are not sure of any allergies you may have, or you have previously been diagnosed with a serious health condition, you may also want to speak with your doctor to make sure that neither substance will interfere with any condition or medications you may be taking.