Clients and Primal Diet – Modern Health Podcast listeners frequently ask me which is better… Ghee or coconut oil?
There are definite differences between these excellent fats, so here’s a short Bio on each. You choose whether you like ghee or coconut oil more, or how to use both liberally as many do.
A health note: If you tend to be underweight or anxious, experiment with removing coconut oil from your diet. Its energy is so quickly absorbed it may make your metabolism a little too speedy. It does this to me…
Why is Ghee good for you?
Humans ate no dairy until we began to domesticate animals instead of hunting them. We soon learned that fresh sheep, goat, horse or yak milk had some benefits. It can be fermented to keep longer and it’s nutritious and filling when raw.
We started milking domesticated animals about 13,000 years ago so it’s very recent in our evolutionary history. It was probably difficult to adapt to animal milk at first. But somehow, we persisted.
I have heard that 30% of humans have now evolved to accept dairy. This is an exceptionally fast evolution and indicates there is something in dairy that we really, really want. The FAT! (The other 70% of us should generally avoid dairy, except for ghee – see more below).
Higher fat diets helped humans evolve
Enter butter fat…. Rich in Vitamins A, D and K2 (IF pastured-raised), butter fat is a bonanza of goodness. GHEE is pure butter fat. Like all 100% pure fats, it has no protein, solids or sugars.
Ghee is butter that has had all moisture, proteins and sugars removed. Lacking water, it doesn’t splatter when cooking. Lacking starch and protein, it doesn’t burn.
Butter, on the other hand, still has traces of whey and casein proteins as well as lactose (sugar). For many of us, this creates an allergy, intolerance or digestive problem. And it can burn and pop when heated.
Ghee and Dairy Intolerance
Our immune system’s job is to target foreign proteins such as viruses and bacteria. It will also attack the proteins in food and those in our own body (auto-immune disorders). But it will not attack fat. So even highly dairy-intolerant people (such as myself) can consume ghee liberally and have no arthritis, gas, bloating or immune antibodies (see my Consult for Leaky Gut testing caused by antibodies and food stress).
Bottom line for Ghee: rich in Vitamins, a familiar and desirable taste and mouth feel, and no antibodies as we might have to butter, cream or other dairy. Great for cooking and very satisfying.
Benefits of Cooking with Coconut Oil
Humans have eaten coconuts from the beginning of time. We rarely have immune or allergy problems with it. The meat, the fat, the water…. it’s all good! And it has anti-infective and healing properties beyond its caloric value.
Like ghee, coconut oil tolerates cooking heat better than butter, olive oil or other fruit or seed oils.
Coconut oil has a highly digestible structure, primarily Medium Chain Triglycerides (other saturated fats are mostly Long Chain). It takes little action from bile and digestive enzymes to break down coconut oil, making it a great food for those with no gall bladder or poor digestion such as the elderly or sick.
On the other hand, coconut oil has none of the much-cherished Vitamins A, D and K2 that ghee or pastured lard have. This is a big “minus” for me.
Coconut oil also is an acquired taste. There are certain foods that just don’t work with its sweetness, and many folks in general don’t like the taste or smell but tolerate it because it’s in so many recipes.
You can get around this by using cheaper grades of coconut oil which have a lighter taste and still offer (according to my research) the other benefits of the oil.
As for taste, I prefer the rich mouth feel and taste of ghee, especially the higher grade of ghee such as Pure Indian Foods (let’s just say, OMG delicious). It’s a familiar taste and goes with everything. And, I have no antibodies to it, so I can enjoy that buttery taste with no downsides. Yay!
Bottom line: keep and use both. Try different brands in different ways. And reach for ghee or pastured lard when you want those great co-factor vitamins and buttery goodness.
Which is Better – Ghee or Coconut Oil?
Listen to my podcast with Dr. Bruce Fife – the “Father of Coconut”. According to Fife, the brand doesn’t really matter. This podcast is all about the coconut for health and is a good one to share with friends.