Butter, Ghee or Oil, which is a better option?
With a lot of buzz going on about “Healthy Fats”, let us understand which is a better choice!
The Indian Scenario of Ghee, Butter or Oil
Butter, ghee and oil are widely used in kitchens across India to make a number of delicacies. They impart different tastes and flavors. Indian cooking uses many different types of oil ranging from sesame oil to peanut oil, and these days olive oil has become the most sort after option.
With growing attention towards health and nutrition, people are becoming more and more aware about the quantity and quality of fat to be used in daily cooking. Butter, ghee and oil, all 3 have varying uses when it comes to cooking sweets or savoury dishes.
So what is the real difference between butter, ghee and vegetable oil?
Well, the first major difference between butter and oil is that butter is solid and vegetable oil is in the liquid state. Butter is 20% water, which evaporates during cooking. Vegetable oil, however, is pure fat containing no water and moisture from the oil won't evaporate on cooking.
Ghee is produced by heating butter to remove milk solids and water. It has a nutty flavour and also has a higher smoke point than butter, which means it can be heated to a higher temperature before it starts smoking.
Which is a healthier option?
Oil generally comprises of unsaturated fats – Mono unsaturated fatty acids(MUFA) and poly unsaturated fatty acids(PUFA), whereas butter is a natural dairy product made from churning milk or cream, contains saturated fats, milk protein and also some amount of water in it.
Although butter contains saturated fats, but these fats are heart healthy while the PUFA present in oils are unwanted fats which may cause health issues because of inflammation in the body and therefore should consumed in moderation.
There are a lot of arguments surrounding butter and its effect on the body’s health. Butter is any day a better option than Margarine, a butter substitute which is processed and loaded with trans fats and is incredibly unhealthy. However, Homemade White butter is even better than commercial butter as it is less processed.
Ghee on the other hand is packed with Conjugated Linoleic acid (CLA) which has a lot of health benefits. Ghee is also loaded with butyrate which has proven to improve gut health. It has a similar nutrition profile to butter and is rich in saturated fatty acids and fat soluble vitamins A, E and K.
Also, since the milk solids from the butter are removed in the process of making ghee, it becomes free of lactose and casein, because of which lactose intolerant individuals can also have ghee.
Some saturated fats like coconut oil and butter are essential fats for our health, as there are a number of fat soluble vitamins required for our body. Butter features Vitamin A, Vitamin D, Vitamin E, lecithin, Selenium, iodine and fatty acids.
Vegetable oils are extracted from a number of seeds – rapeseeds, soybean, corn, sunflower, peanut, etc. Vegetable oil may sound good, but don't be fooled by the "natural" ingredients. The problem with these oils is that they are high in omega-6 fatty acids and PUFA which maybe inflammatory in nature.
Which oil to use for deep frying?
It is suggested to use Groundnut Oil or Rice bran oil (rich in MUFA) or coconut oil (rich in MCT) for deep-frying Indian foods as per your requirement.
The Take away message
Butter, extra virgin olive oil, olive oil, sesame oil (Gingelly oil) or coconut oil can be a good option as compared to not so healthy fats like palm kernel oil and palm oil . Make sure you completely avoid Dalda/ Vanaspati (Hydrogenated Vegetable Fat) as it is loaded with trans fat which can cause a lot of health issues.
Using Home Made Ghee or Home Made Butter is a good option as it will be less processed and will have a number of health benefits.
But moderation is very important as ultimately all of them add fats to your diet. It is important to maintain an appropriate omega 3 to omega 6 ratio in your diet, so that there is an anti-inflammatory environment in the body. It is also recommended to find a balance in eating fats with a lot of lean protein and whole grains. Fats cannot be neglected from our diets, especially the essential fatty acids.
Therefore, Cooking with all types of fats, requires appropriate moderation and a healthy balance needs to be maintained.
Even if you choose a healthy oil, make sure you do not use it in excess. Measure exact serving sizes of oils before adding them to recipes to control the amount you use. To maintain quality in your diet, consume oils that are rich in unsaturated fat instead of those high in saturated fat.
Make it a point to keep rotating the fats you consume (at least every 6 months), this will ensure that the fat going in your body is in an appropriate ratio.
You should know what are you putting in your body and how will that affect your health.
So be aware and make informed choices!!