After having spent over a decade of my life in the trenches of fat-phobia; specifically saturated fat-phobia, I KNOW how hard it is to believe that ghee is good for you.
Ghee – which is a type of clarified butter; or, butter with all milk solids removed – has a long history in Indian cuisine. It’s delicious, sure. It’s unprocessed. You can make it at home (in contrast to the fats of conventional wisdom, which are birthed in a factory.) It’s basically all the goodness of butter, concentrated. What could be better?
But healthy? Naaah. Couldn’t be.
After all, not only is ghee an animal fat, but it’s a highly saturated animal fat. And if decades of Diet Industry conditioning has taught us anything, it’s that
we should work out in thong leotards and leg warmers saturated animal fat is bad. Dangerous. Unhealthy.
And we shouldn’t just quit the sat fats. We should replace them with highly processed fats like corn oil, soybean oil, and canola oil. After all, nature’s got it all wrong. We need to get our food from factories.
I busted the low-fat myth in my 7 reasons fat is your friend post, and I tackle all the saturated-fat-phobia AND animal-product-phobia at length in Eat the Yolks. (If I do say so myself, it’s the PERFECT read for the Paleo, Primal and Real Food skeptic.)
In short – and this is stated in this study – “there is no significant evidence for concluding that dietary saturated fat is associated with an increased risk of [heart disease]”. As I discuss in my book, the cholesterol-satfat-heart disease triumvirate is finally circling the drain, too. From Eat the Yolks:
Saturated fat was demonized in the first place because we thought it raised cholesterol, which freaked us out because we’d been told that higher cholesterol led to heart disease. At some point, we stopped caring about the whole proposed chain of events—false as it is—and decided that saturated fat “clogged arteries” too, as if the human body were just a big jumble of copper plumbing and any type of fat or cholesterol would plug us up….“
(The bullgarbage has also led us to forget that animals are meant to be raised in a natural environment, on their natural diets; not in factory farms. This is why I don’t recommend animal products when you don’t trust the source. When I say “natural,” THAT is what I mean.)
Real, natural fats are awesome for good reason: They’re stable (that’s what saturated means), and they’re nutritious. Ghee, especially, is chock-full of nutrition. Isn’t that what we need? Nutrition?
From Eat the Yolks:
We don’t need more dogma or another diet plan. We need nutrition.”
The secret to why ghee is good for you is the fat-soluble vitamins it contains. These fat-soluble vitamins, which Dr. Chris Masterjohn has emphasized work together in the body, are incredibly important for skin health.
When you eat ghee, it benefits your skin; I’ve also observed that it works topically when applied as a balm!
(Worried about putting oil or fat on your face? Don’t. As I discuss in The Purely Primal Skincare Guide), oil-based skincare actually helps balance and nourish problem skin.)
The nutrient that makes ghee from properly-raised animals really special is the little-known fat-soluble vitamin called vitamin K2, which works with fat-soluble vitamin A, which is also found in ghee. (Another important fat-soluble vitamin that works with A and K2 is vitamin D, which we can get from the sun, seafood, and egg yolks.) #EatTheYolks
Here’s a science-y post that explains lots more about this nutrient.
Interestingly, not only is vitamin K2 present in ghee, which is a highly saturated fat, but it just might be K2 (specifically, lack of K2) that actually IS an important factor in determining heart disease risk. (As The Target Lady would say, “Ironic!”) From Eat the Yolks:
In all the decades we’ve been blaming cholesterol and saturated fat for the growing epidemic of cardiovascular disease, … vitamin K2—already present in real, traditional food—may have been part of the answer. Vitamin K2 is so powerful, says Masterjohn, that “Research is in fact rapidly redefining heart disease largely as a deficiency of this vitamin.” “
- It’s saturated, and therefore stable, as I discuss in Eat the Yolks. (This means it’s super safe to cook with!)
- It’s really, really tasty. That makes you happy. Being happy is good for you.
- It’s dense in vitamin K2, which is critical for skin and heart health and works with other fat-soluble vitamins.
- It’s dense in vitamin A, which is critical for skin health and works with other fat-soluble vitamins.
- It nourishes the skin from the inside-out, AND from the outside-in. (Example: ghee is an ingredient in the most amazing lip balm EVER.)
Seriously. When you cook with ghee, give your face and lips a little extra lovin’…or give your cracked homesteading hands a little TLC.
Need I say more? (Actually, I should probably NOT say more. This post is getting uber-long.)
(PS: Anybody know where the umlaut button is on the keyboard?)
Let me know your questions and thoughts in the comments section. I’m off to cook some breakfast – and I might just slather a little extra ghee on my face!
Thanks for reading!