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Today, I got a great question from a cleanser about why ghee is acceptable on the Gottfried Cleanse, but not butter.
Here's my answer. Short version: butter contains the common allergens of dairy, casein and lactose, whereas ghee has them removed or cooked off.
Ghee, also known as clarified butter, is made by cooking unsalted butter until all water has boiled off, the milk solids (or protein) have settled to the bottom, and froth has floated on top. After removing the froth, the clarified butter is then spooned or poured off fastidiously to avoid disturbing the milk protein on the bottom of the pan. Depending on how fastidious one is (or the producer of your ghee), there may be trace amounts of casein and lactose, but usually not enough to trigger an allergic response.
Ghee vs. Butter
- Great for cooking: Ghee does not contain milk solids (casein and lactose), which makes it very stable at high heat. Ghee has a high smoke point (~485 °F), which makes it one of the best oils , along with coconut oil, for baking, sautéing and frying. When you choose butter for a sauté, the milk solids precipitate to the bottom of the pan and can burn causing an unpleasant odor, appearance and taste. When you sauté and fry with ghee, there is no hissing or splattering. It also has a sweet aroma and actually becomes richer in flavor as well.
- Stable shelf life. Because ghee has very little moisture content, you do not need to refrigerate it for 2-3 months if you keep it in an airtight container. When kept in a refrigerator, ghee can last up to a year. In India, aged ghee is considered to have healing properties and some families have ghee that is over 100-years old. Ghee such as this is rare and very expensive. Old ghee is only used externally, and by experienced Ayurvedic practitioners only.
- Yummy Flavor. Ghee has a nutty, sweet, rich flavor. Small amounts add significant flavor. One tablespoon of ghee can replace up to three tablespoons of oil or butter.
- Alkalizing. In our Gottfried Cleanse, we are trying to alkalinize the body, which reduces inflammation, bone loss, and perhaps risk of cancer. Ghee has alkalizing effect on the body (butter has a slightly acidifying effect).
- Ayurvedic Use. Ghee heals many skin conditions. I prescribe medicated ghee in women with thyroid problems which leads to dry skin, and also in perimenopausal and menopausal women who have vaginal dryness. Try it on dry lips. Ghee is considered in Ayurveda to be "sattvic" food whereas butter is tamasic. Sattvic is a Sanskrit term, or one of the gunas, which refers to food or objects that are uncontaminated and should not spread evil or disease in the world - sattvic food must purify the surroundings. Thus when an individual consumes such a food, one must feel that one is eating pure food. The food should be healthy, nutritious and clean. It should also not weaken the power or equilibrium of mind. Tamastic foods benefit neither the body nor the mind. Tamastic foods are thought in Ayurveda to withdraw energy and destroy resistance to disease. Over-eating is also called Tamastic eating. Foods in this category include, besides butter, meat, alcohol, overripe or stale foods, and vinegar. For more details on using ghee while cleansing, check out Panchakarma (I've consumed up to 3 tablespoons per day while performing Panchakarma, as it is considered very healing to the gut lining). Love those Ayurvedic concepts!