Is Ghee Healthier Than Normal Butter?

2 minute read
Originally posted here: https://mcgill.ca/oss/article/general-science-you-asked/what-ghee-and-it-healthier-butter

Ghee can be found in the international section of most grocery stores, and clarified butter on the pages of many culinary magazines, but what are these fats, and how do they differ from normal sticks of butter?

Butter is made from milk, which itself is composed of globules of butterfat suspended in water, with carbohydrates, minerals and proteins dissolved in the mix. So, when you melt butter it separates into three layers.

From top to bottom they are milk solids (the proteins, minerals and carbs), butterfat, and a combination of more milk solids and water. Clarified butter is simply this middle layer of butterfat, which can be attained by skimming milk solids off the top, evaporating the water, and decanting the butterfat. 

Image made by Ada McVean

Ghee simply requires an extra step: simmering. After the risen milk solids are skimmed off the top, the butterfat, with sunk milk solid still present, is simmered until it begins to brown. The browning of the milk solids provides the nutty flavour that makes ghee so desirable. The butterfat is then decanted off, leaving the browned milk solids, but taking some of their flavours with it.

Why go through this skimming and decanting hassle? A few reasons. First of all, because you’ve eliminated almost all of the milk solids, clarified butter and ghee are essentially lactose-free, something your lactose intolerant friends will appreciate considerably.

Second, butterfat, unlike the butter is was made from, does not burn at such low temperatures. Where butter’s smoke point (the temperature at which an oil begins to create a smoke, and its associated bad flavour) is 302˚F (150˚C), clarified butter’s smoke point is 482˚F (250˚C), which allows it to be used to cook at higher temperatures than any other standard cooking oil.

Thirdly, ghee and clarified butter are shelf stable. They can last about 12 months once opened, or many years if not opened, making them an attractive option for emergency kits, campers or those in rural areas.

If you’re not cooking at really high temperatures, lactose intolerant, or an adventurer, however, there’s no reason to switch to the clarified variety of your toast spread.

While ghee has been part of traditional Indian medicine (specifically ghee made from breast milk) there’s no evidence to support the many health claims made of this fat. Ghee and clarified butter are almost nutritionally identical to the butter from which they’re made.

In the end, clarified butter is still butter, and butter is not a health food.

Per 1 tspButterGhee
Calories3645
Total Fat (g)4.15
Saturated Fat (g)2.63
Cholesterol (mg)10.88
Vitamin A (%)24

If You Have a Nut Allergy You Might Want to Check Your Shampoo Ingredients

Originally posted here: https://mcgill.ca/oss/article/you-asked/nut-allergies-and-shampoo

Nut allergies affect about 2% of the Canadian population and can be broken down into tree nut allergies (like almonds or cashews) and peanut allergies (peanuts aren’t actually nuts but legumes). These allergies are caused by ingesting or inhaling certain allergenic nut proteins, not all of which have been identified yet. So, if these proteins were present in oils made from nuts that are used in cosmetics like hand cream or shampoo, one could have a reaction to them.

If you’re allergic to peanuts, that’s likely all you’re allergic to. Numbers vary on the percentage of people allergic to peanuts that have cross-reactivity to other legumes like soy or tree nuts, but it’s not a majority. On the other hand, if you’re allergic to one kind of tree nut, chances are you’re allergic to several. You are likely, however, not allergic to coconut or nutmeg (though it’s a common misconception) as they are not nuts.

Studies have found that contact allergic reactions can occur due to exposure to allergens in cosmetics. But these reactions only occur if the relevant proteins are intact, so in general, the more processed and refined the cosmetic, the smaller the likelihood of a reaction.

Allergens in cosmetics can pop up more than you might expect. Peanut oil is often used under the name arachis hypogaea in shampoos and creams. Tree nut oils in cosmetics are downright common, with almond oilargan oil and shea butter being some common examples. Coconut oil is also growing in popularity lately, with many companies incorporating it into products in order to market them as ‘natural’. Looking in my bathroom I found six products containing peanut, tree nut or coconut oils.

Since every allergy is different it’s really best to evaluate your own situation. If you’re allergic to tree nuts but not coconut, look for coconut-based products. If you’re allergic to tree nuts and coconut, you might have to look for specialty products or make your own. Or, you might check the products you’ve already been using and realize that they contained your allergen, in which case you’re probably good to keep on using them.