In Ayurveda, ghee is well-respected for its role in boosting agni (digestive fire), supporting ojas (vigor/vitality), and nourishing all the dhatus (tissues of the body). Ghee has many culinary uses and can even be used topically for various self-care and therapeutic practices. However, not all ghee is created equally. While ghee in general is good, choosing a quality, ethically-made ghee makes a difference in terms of the derived benefits. Let’s take a look at some different types of ghee and what to look for when purchasing ghee.
Grass Fed Versus Grain Fed Ghee
While shopping for the ghee, you may have noticed labels that denote “grass fed.” Perhaps you have wondered whether grass fed ghee really is better than grain fed. Beyond consumer reports that demonstrate the favorable taste of grass fed ghee over grain fed ghee, there has been research that supports the nutritional superiority of grass fed ghee. In fact, a 2016 study that compared the taste and nutritional quality of butter from grass fed versus grain fed cows found that the butter from pasture fed cows was both nutritionally superior and better tasting than that of grain fed (1).
Also, when it comes to making the best selection in terms of types of ghee, here are more specifics on why grass fed is a good choice: A study by the International Journal of Vitamin Nutritional Research found that grass fed milk had a higher omega 3 fatty acid content as compared the milk of grain fed cows (2). Also grass fed butter has higher amounts of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), a type of fatty acid that may support heart health.
Types of Ghee: What Else To Consider
What else should one consider in sifting through, and making a selection, in regards to types of ghee? Beyond whether the cow is grass-fed, one should note:
- Type of cow that the milk comes from – There has been a bit of buzz lately about A2 versus A1 milk protein. Ghee comes from milk and most conventional ghee is made from milk with predominantly A1 protein. That is, milk from Jersey, Holstein Friesian, Ayrshire, and British Short Horn cattle. On the other hand, ghee from A2 cattle, such as Gir and Desi, contain easier to digest proteins.
- Ethical treatment of cows – According to Ayurveda, cows which are free-range and milked only on their own accord are much better for us. That’s because the treatment of the cows has an effect on the quality of the milk produced.
- Herbal infusions – Ghee can also be infused with herbs for additional health benefits. For instance, Ayurvedic practitioners often prescribe ghee mixed with herbs specific for detoxification and balancing. This type of Ghruta, known as Tikta Ghruta, may include herbs like, Neem, Kutki, Kalmegha, Bhumyamalaki, Turmeric, Daruharidra, Karella (bitter melon) and Musta among many others.
There is much to consider when it comes to types of ghee. Though ghee is good for you in many ways, choosing ghee from free-range, grass fed cattle that are treated with kindness will have a different nutritional and ethical impact versus more conventional options. PIOR Living’s Ghruta ghee is handcrafted according to Ayurveda traditions and made from free range, grass-fed Indian Gir cows that roam the Gujarati plains and forests of India.
(1) O’Callaghan, T. F., Faulkner, H., McAuliffe, S., O’Sullivan, M. G., Hennessy, D., Dillon, P., Kilcawley, K. N., Stanton, C., & Ross, R. P. (2016). Quality characteristics, chemical composition, and sensory properties of butter from cows on pasture versus indoor feeding systems. Journal of dairy science, 99(12), 9441–9460. https://doi.org/10.3168/jds.2016-11271
(2) Hebeisen DF, Hoeflin F, Reusch HP, Junker E, Lauterburg BH. Increased concentrations of omega-3 fatty acids in milk and platelet rich plasma of grass-fed cows. Int J Vitam Nutr Res. 1993;63(3):229-33. PMID: 7905466.
Greta Kent-Stoll is a Certified Ayurvedic Practitioner (NAMA), as well as a writer, editor, and Certified Iyengar Yoga Teacher. She is the co-owner of Iyengar Yoga Asheville. You can learn more about Greta’s work HERE.