4 Unexpected Health Benefits of Ghee (Clarified Butter)

A staple in traditional Indian cooking and Ayurvedic medicine, ghee is made through a simple process of boiling butter and then pouring off the butterfat, leaving behind the proteins (casein and whey) and the milk solids (which includes lactose). What’s left is also known as clarified butter.

Much like butter, ghee has gotten a bad reputation over the past 30 years due to its high saturated fat content. But research has revealed that instead of increasing the risk of heart disease, ghee actually decreases it — and that’s not the only trick it has up its sleeve. Ghee made from grass-fed butter is packed with vitamins A, D, E and K, as well as fatty acids CLA and butyric acid, leading to some interesting health benefits.

1. Ghee can reduce your risk of heart disease.

Despite the bad press it has received over the years, ghee may actually be protective against heart disease. Ghee is rich in conjugated linoleic acid, or CLA, a fatty acid known to be protective against carcinogens, artery plaque and diabetes. Because of these benefits, researchers say ghee can potentially be used to help prevent cardiovascular diseases. 

One unfortunate result of the war on saturated fats has been the replacement of traditional foods with highly processed alternatives. One study points to the increase in consumption of vegetable ghee, which contains up to 40 per cent trans fatty acids, for the increase in cardiovascular disease amongst Indians. A study on a rural population in India showed that men who ate higher amounts of traditional ghee had lower incidences of heart disease than those who ate less of it. 

2. Ghee can help you make beautiful babies.

If you’re planning on trying to conceive anytime soon, vitamin K2 is an important nutrient to incorporate into your diet. According to the Weston A. Price Foundation, vitamin K2 plays a crucial role in facial and dental development. Children born to mothers with high levels of vitamin K2 are more likely to have wide, symmetrical faces with plenty of room for straight, healthy teeth later on. Grass-fed ghee is a great source of vitamin K2, making it an important food for pre-conception and pregnancy.

3. Ghee can help heal your digestive tract.

Good digestion is the key to good health, and if you’re dealing with any sort of digestive issues, healing your gut lining is an important first step. Ghee is rich in butyric acid, a short-chain fatty acid that nourishes the cells of the intestines. According to Phyllis A. Balch, author of Prescription for Nutritional Healing, butyric acid is “a monounsaturated fatty acid [that] reduces inflammatory conditions, reduces seepage of undigested food particles, and aids in repair of the mucosal wall.”

4. Ghee may be able to help you lose weight.

Remember our good friend CLA? On top of its cardiovascular benefits, it’s also been shown to help prevent weight gain and aid in weight loss. According to one study, CLA supplementation in overweight participants showed significant weight loss over a six month period. Further study is needed, but if you’re hoping to shed pounds, replacing rancid, highly processed vegetable oils with grass-fed ghee may be a good place to start.

I am a clinical nutritionist and functional medicine specialist. Though my practice is based in Toronto, thanks to modern technology, my client base extends worldwide. I have had the privilege of teaching clinical nutrition for several natural health colleges and am the first Canadian nutritionist to be accepted into the Institute for Functional Medicine Certification Program, where I am currently pursuing certification as an Institute of Functional Medicine Certified Practitioner (IFMCP). I also appear as an expert for various media outlets including CTV News and CityTV. Meet this expert

More Wisdom from our Experts
More Wisdom in Health

15 responses to “4 Unexpected Health Benefits of Ghee (Clarified Butter)

  1. Jayashreemuralidharan May 2, 2015

    My grand mother and mother use to say one amazing benefit of pure ghee removes dirt from the brain cells and refresh the brain cells. Human body naturally admire hot lot by consuming 2-3 spoons of ghee reduces the heat on body and improves quality of life. Thanks for your articles which also i find very useful.

  2. GeorgeN September 8, 2015

    Butyric acid is not a monounsaturated fatty acid. Strictly speaking, it’s not a fatty acid at all but a simple carboxylic acid, but if you want to call it a fatty acid, it’s a saturated fatty acid.

  3. Helen Maydwell April 26, 2016

    I have just finished my first ghee. It was deliscious. I made it from butter which is made using grass fed cattle in NZ. I am about to make my second lot and was very pleased to learn its health benefits.Thank you.

  4. Debbie April 30, 2016

    I just bought organic valley ghee. I’ve used it about 4 times and I just can’t get past the taste. I love butter, but there is an aftertaste. Do you think it could be the kind I bought? It was the only one available in my grocery store.

    1. It could be the type of ghee you bought. Try experimenting with different brands, or make your own using your favourite brand of organic butter.

      If you still don’t like the taste, maybe you don’t like ghee and that’s OK! You can still get the health benefits by disguising it in soups, stews, elixirs and smoothies.

      Happy experimenting!

    2. Sunny November 28, 2016

      check out organic section @ http://www.njoydd.com. they have organic ghee produced right here in the US

  5. Matin August 24, 2016

    In Afghanistan people believe it makes you strong! God bless my uncle, he used to tell me,”Oh you are the vegetables oil boy! If you want to be strong like stone eat Ghee,” or as we call it “Roghan Zard”, which literary mean yellow oil.

  6. Natalie August 26, 2016

    I was told by my doctor to avoid dairy. Since ghee is made from cow’s milk it is dairy, right? So do you think I could still consume it? I previously had no issues with dairy products, but when I was diagnosed with Crohn’s one year ago, my doctor advised me to exclude dairy completely from my diet.

    1. Meghan Telpner August 29, 2016

      Yes, you should be fine. If ghee is prepared properly it is pure fat – and does not contain the milk sugars or proteins that are most often the cause of reactions.

  7. Laura January 6, 2017

    I consumed some ghee (2 lbs) over a period of time, can’t remember how long, but I started losing weight again (I eat whole food plant based no oil) and have continued losing even now many months later. I wonder if any of your readers have experienced anything like this?

Let us know what you think.