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

Skinny Magic is a Fat Scam

Originally posted here: https://mcgill.ca/oss/article/health-and-nutrition-quackery/skinny-magic-fat-scam

Skinny Magic, Skinny Magic Zero Appetite and Skinny Magic Cleanse are herbal weight loss remedies created and sold by The Herb Shop, a subsidiary of Jade Enterprises based out of Florida. Jade Enterprises seems to have been unable to pick just one industry to become involved in, and opted instead to just dabble in all of them- they own several herbal supplement companies (including IAmHealthy.net), a photography and Photoshop company, and a window film company that specializes in ‘Toilet Tattoos’.

All three products claim to do as their name suggests, with that being helping you lose weight with natural herbs and superfoods in the case of their ‘skinny’ products. The company’s main claim is that their pills will energize you, allowing you to increase your activity levels while reducing your appetite so you reduce your caloric intakes. How the ingredients in their product do this, however, is up to interpretation.

Each pill contains chromium, niacin and vitamin B6 and B12, calcium and magnesium. Sadly, the amounts of calcium and magnesium are so small that you’re likely getting more from just your daily breakfast. The pills also contain 487.6 mg of what they refer to as their ‘Proprietary Blend’- a mixture of several ‘superfoods’ like stinging nettle, apple cider vinegar, barley grass, bladderwrack and other algae. Even if there were reason to believe any of these ingredients could perform the weight loss miracles the pills claim, it’s impossible to evaluate their efficacy, as the company refuses to give the make-up of its ‘Proprietary Blend’. For all we know, the blend is 99% apple cider vinegar, and the same experience could be had drinking what’s already in your kitchen cupboard.

The recommended use of Skinny Magic is 1-3 capsules per day, 30 minutes before each meal, but not within 7 hours of bedtime, as they may impair sleep. This likely has something to do with the 100 mg of caffeine in every pill (more than a cup of coffee). At 3 pills per day, any more than 1 cup of coffee in addition to these pills would put you over the Health Canada recommended daily maximum dose of 400 mg of caffeine- and how many of us only have 1 cup of coffee a day? This caffeine content likely explains the numerous customers experiencing nervousness, the shakes, and insomnia.

Beyond duping customers into buying these pills based on their weight loss claims, The Herb Shop seems to have another trick up their sleeves to take the money out of desperate pockets. A full bottle of 60 Skinny Magic pills (a month’s supply) will run you $59.95. At almost $1/pill plus shipping, you can imagine the creators had a hard time selling their magic to the public. To combat the trepidation, they began offering trial packs- 10 pills (a week’s supply) for $12.50 plus shipping. While this price is increased per pill, it’s cheap enough to coax wary customers to try the product. But, as numerous customers report, the formula of the trial pills and the normal pills greatly differs. This difference is made possible by the company’s use of an unspecific ‘Proprietary Blend’, which, as I’ve mentioned, allows them to do as they will with the quantities of each ingredient in the blend. Even if the pills worked, there is no way to guarantee from batch to batch or size to size that you’re receiving the same pills you found effective last month.

These pills boast big claims, but as their website is quick to point out, none of them have been evaluated by the FDA or Health Canada. Their own website points out that these pills are not meant to diagnose or treat any diseases, and that you should contact a licensed health practitioner, whom I just could not see prescribing these ‘magic’ pills.

Chemically How Does Milk Become Butter?

Originally published here: https://mcgill.ca/oss/article/did-you-know/how-does-milk-become-butter

The milk of cow’s, as well as that of most other mammals, is a complex mixture of proteins, fats, water, carbohydrates, minerals, hormones and various other molecules. Some of these components are soluble in water, others are suspended. The first step to making butter is to let cow’s milk rest (or centrifuge it to speed up the process) until a lot of the fatty constituents have floated to the top. We call this layer the cream, and it is skimmed off, heated up and then cooled, to harden the fats. It’s at this point that the cream will be put into a churner, be it the wooden onespioneers used, an industrial modern one, or a jury-rigged one made of a jar to be passed around a kindergarten classroom. The act of churning the cream, which is largely akin to shaking it around or stirring it, breaks up the lipoprotein membranes surround fat globules so that more and more globules of fat join together. Eventually, after a lot of churning, shaking or stirring, almost all the globules in the cream will have joined together to form the solid that we call butter. As the solid is disturbed further, the water contained in it will disperse throughout the butter in finer and finer drops, leading to ‘smoother’ seeming products. The liquid leftover still contains some fat, however, and is siphoned off to be used and sold as buttermilk.