Nutritionist Kimberly Snyder on the beauty and health benefits of ghee. (Photo: Yahoo Beauty)
As someone striving for a healthy body inside and out, I’m encountering a lot of talk about ghee. Paleo recipes cite its benefits over traditional Western butter, and whole food health enthusiasts claim wide-ranging benefits for the body. But butter is butter right? Or so I thought. Come to find out, there’s a lot of truth about the benefits of ghee.
First of all, let’s talk about what it is, which is clarified butter simmered to a concentrate with all the milk residue removed. This means that if you have dairy allergies, it’s said that many of the impurities that cause you discomfort are removed. You can cook with it and use it in place of butter in pretty much any recipe. “It’s just pure fat, without the casein,” says Kimberly Snyder, certified nutritionist and New York Times best-selling author of books such as The Beauty Detox Power. “Also, along with coconut oil, it has the advantage of a high smoke point, so it’s fantastic item for cooking and baking.”
The reason I was curious about ghee is that I’ve read a lot about the beauty benefits. A quick search returns results like the reduction of dark circles, homemade conditioner, and even body moisturizer. According to Snyder, the health benefits are largely realized once the ghee has been ingested, citing the same benefits as other healthy fats such as supple, youthful skin. “It contains vitamins A and E as well as conjugated linoleic acid (CLA,) which has antiviral properties,” notes Snyder, who also says that, similar to coconut oil, it’s metabolized into the body, absorbs into the liver, and burns off as energy unlike animal fats.
But as far as the claims of applying ghee directly to the hair and body like most of us do with coconut oil, Snyder says it’s best to stick with cooking with ghee. “I would definitely not use ghee directly on the hair and body. For me, it definitely has a ‘cow smell,’ so you’ll want to stick with Ayurvedic products directly suited for that kind of thing like coconut oil, sesame oil or herbalized oils made of plants,” says Snyder. “As an Ayurvedic doctoral student, it’s been taught to me that it’s beneficial to ingest ghee but not necessarily to use it directly on the skin.”
After speaking with Snyder, I decided to give ghee a try when cooking, and I have to say the results have been pretty miraculous. I don’t know if it has something to do with the fact that I also gave up sugar and gluten for the most part when I started using ghee, but I’ve received a number of compliments on how my skin glows from within, and I have to admit that I see it, too. Since I’m not vegan (yet), I can enjoy my newfound, skin-friendly butter, but for those who adhere to strict animal-free diets, coconut oil can deliver similar benefits. For all of us trying to watch our waistlines, as much of a glow as it delivers, it’s to be enjoyed in moderation. But after using ghee for a while, I can report that a little “glows” a long way. It may be worth a try to experience a healthier, beautiful body, inside and out.