November 7, 2016

some gheesearch

some gheesearch

Told a friend I was researching ghee and its benefits the other day, some gheesearch if you will, and her response was “ghee is so hot right now.” Ghee is indeed the new kale, as ubiquitous as the pumpkin spice latte from September-November. But is there any validity behind its value? Or are people simply drinking it as a gheelorified version of the bandwagon effect? I think after Mark Hyman’s book “Eat Fat, Get Thin” hit the market, fat is really what is so hot right now. Dr. Hyman recommends 60% of daily calories coming from healthy fat sources (a la monounsaturated fats (nuts, avocado, omega-3s, etc.)). He also stands behind BulletProof Coffee – the company that really catapulted this ghee/coconut oil (and now collagen peptides) latte.

Bulletproof coffee, according to their website, alleges you’ll feel energy and an increase of cognitive function for up to six hours after consumption, and without crashing.  Their MCT oil is a medium chain fatty acid sourced from coconut oil and palm kernel oil that is easily absorbed by the body. MCFAs are easily and quickly digested, rather than absorbed as fat sources, and so they’re recommended as metabolism stimulants. Coconut oil, despite being a saturated fat, can also improve blood cholesterol levels and may lower risk of heart disease, protect hair against oxidative damage, moisturize skin, boost brain function, help decrease fat stores, and increase energy levels.  This is because more than half of its saturated fat content is lauric acid, which is shown to increase HDL levels, and in turn boost good cholesterol. One study even noted the apparent correlation between dietetic supplementation with coconut oil and a reduction in abdominal obesity (Assuncao et al., 2009). The BulletProof website claims that drinking it in the morning prepares the body to burn fat all day long.

Ghee or grass fed butter is also added into the mix, which has the fats that regulate cholesterol (HDL), a good ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acid, and ample vitamin K. All of these have shown to reduce the risk of heart disease. Butyrate, a fatty acid good for gut health, is also in grass fed butter / ghee, which is anti-inflammatory and has been linked to preventing neurodegenerative disease, healing the epithelial lining of the gut, and increasing energy expenditure. In fact, in one study, supplementation with butyrate in mice prevented insulin resistance and obesity, and fatty acid oxidation was enhanced. Furthermore, researchers observed an increase in mitochondrial function – the powerhouse of the cell that provides energy. Perhaps this is why individuals who drink this concoction report improvements in energy, focus, satiety, and feeling full longer (Gao et al., 2009).

Other butyrate benefits include: better ion absorption, increased cell proliferation and differentiation, improvements to intestinal barrier function and immune-regulation, prevention of oxidative stress, better insulin sensitivity, enhanced cholesterol synthesis, and better energy expenditure.

A quick scan of PubMed reveals these claims have not yet infiltrated the realm of scientific research.  But this may speak more to the difficulty in designing a reputable study more so than the possible health benefits of this concoction.

The biggest problem is that nutritional studies are extremely difficult to design, so there are few if any scientific studies backing ghee/coconut oil in coffee. Most of the reports are empirical or anecdotal. Oftentimes, food intake is measured through the of use either FFQ’s (food frequency questionnaire’s) or 24-hour recall. Both are riddled with error, as oftentimes patients don’t remember exactly what they ate, or what they ate during that time period is not entirely reflective of their actual diet. Currently, there is no method that measures the entirety of an individual’s dietary experience with sufficiently small measurement error, and so measuring diet over extended periods of time has substantial error (Kamangar & Karimi, 2013). Furthermore, there are variable effects of food items: food grown and prepared in different parts of the world or at different times have different ingredients that change their effects in the human body. For example, some sources of brown rice have higher arsenic levels than white rice, which may shift the balance of which is the healthier option, despite brown rice traditionally having more fiber, vitamins, minerals, and nutrients. Lastly, it’s extremely difficult to isolate just one food group and its overall effect on the body because food interacts so much with other food you ingest. Error is inevitable, so be a curious consumer when digesting some of the most recent nutrition research.

Okay, back to digesting this new fad of adding (fadding? sounds like fatting. Which is just so applicable to this blog post) ghee (or grass-fed butter) to your coffee. What’s the difference between the two?

Ghee vs butter:

Ghee is clarified butter, but simmered longer to remove the water, milk solids, and impurities so it’s a good alternative to those who have issues with lactose or casein. It is essentially just the oil extracted from butter. Butter contains 12-15 percent medium and short-chain fatty acids, while ghee contains 25 percent or greater. It’s shown to improve heart health and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, provide nourishment to hair, skin, and cell membranes, and contains high saturated fat levels which protect out vital organs, maintain healthy body temperature, give us energy, and improve brain function. While the two have similar caloric, fat, omega-3 and omega-6 contents (though ghee is slightly more with 14g per tbsp compared to 12g of butter), ghee has more vitamin A, vitamin D, and a higher smoke point (better for cooking). It also has more flavor, adding a depth, nuttiness, and richness to your cooking or latte. Furthermore, it has an extremely high cooking point – 485F, which prevents the formation of free radicals in cooking. Exceeding a smoke point negatively affect a food’s flavor and nutritional value, and also create carcinogenic compounds that are harmful when either consumed or inhaled.

Considering the research and my own personal experience: if it gives you energy and less of a caffeine jolt, do it. If you subjectively feel better and this translates to more energy, do it! I usually have a cup in the morning with my workout, and add in a banana if I’m feeling particularly hungry. I don’t use it as a meal replacement, but I don’t tend to be hungry first thing in the morning, and it energizes me enough for some morning movement. Generally, I feel less jittery in the morning and I don’t have an overwhelming craving for sweets throughout the day. Some individuals put 2tbsp of ghee into their coffee as a form of meal replacement. I will never be one of these people. Real breakfast is a tenet that is embedded into the moral fibers of my being.

While making this latte requires a bit more time in the morning, I think these small health habits splattered throughout the day steamroll into health habits in other spaces of life. Taking time to slow down and create mini grandiose rituals (oxymorons at their finest) for my healthy habits regimen motivates mindfulness for the rest of my day.

gheesearch-2

Here are a few different variations of ghee latte recipes I use:

Mocha:

  • 1 tsp grass-fed butter or ghee
  • 1 tsp coconut oil
  • 1 tbsp collagen peptides**
  • 1/2 tsp raw cacao
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 12 oz hot brewed coffee

Turmeric:

  • 1 tsp grass-fed butter or ghee
  • 1 tsp coconut oil
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • pinch of black pepper (increases turmeric absorption)
  • 2 tbsp almond milk
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • dash of cinnamon on top
  • 12 oz hot brewed coffee

Regular:

  • 1 tsp grass-fed butter or ghee
  • 1 tsp coconut oil
  • 12 oz hot brewed coffee

N.B. Adding in collagen peptides: this natural anti-aging protein supports youthful skin, strong bones, reduces joint pain, and provides deeper, more restorative sleep. Collagen peptides are short chain amino acids naturally derived from pasture-raised, grass-fed collagen protein. Unlike gelatin, these peptides are soluble in cold liquids as well as hot. Collagen peptides contain the same amino acids as gelatin which are identical to the protein found in skin, nails, hair, bones, cartilage, and joints. It’s also a great source of protein for a pre-workout snack.

PS. You can use code twist10 for 10% off your Ancient Ghee Organics order. Sadly enough, I was not paid for this post / do not even make commission from this product. I just GHEEnuinely think it’s amazing.

Assuncao, M.L., Ferreira, H.S., dos Santos, A.F., Cabral, C.R., & Florencio, T.M (2009). Effectsof dietary coconut oil on the biochemical and anthropometric profiles of women presenting abdominal obesity. Lipids, 44(7), 593-601. doi: 10.1007/s11745-009-3306-6

Holroyd, J. (2014). Butter in your coffee? It’s a thing. Stuff: food and wine. Retrieved from http://www.stuff.co.nz/life-style/food-wine/drinks/10193600/Butter-in-your-coffee-Its-a-thing

Gao, Z., Yin, J., Zhang, J., Ward, R.E., Martin, R.J., Lefevre, M., Cefalu, W.T., & Ye, J. (2009). Butyrate improves insulin sensitivity and increases energy expenditure in mice. Diabetes, 58(7), 1509-1517. doi: 10.2337/db08-1637

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15 comments:

  • Catherine Okereke

    What a fantastic, comprehensive rundown about Ghee/coffee. Loved reading. I’ve been contemplating giving it a try and was delighted to see your recipe recs. I’m like you – I do coffee w additives before a workout but prefer to actually eat breakfast. : )

    XO,

    Catherine

    • Katie

      Thanks for your comment, Catherine! I’ve been having it every morning and it genuinely does help with my cravings in the afternoon / evening. Hope you love it and yes team breakfast 4ever!!!

  • Erin @ Erin's Inside Job

    I’ve been using it for awhile now bc my husband is Indian so I went out and bought ALL THE INDIAN INGREDIENTS and never use them unless his parents are around haha. I use it to make my scrambled eggs in the morning and they are DELICIOUS.

    • Katie

      Right?! I’ve been tossing it down on just about everything. Gheerilled sourdough is my current favorite. Just thinking about it induces an automatic drool pool.

  • RGE

    Great, solid read Katherine! Keep up the fantastic work, my friend!

  • Alexa Hankard

    How would you recommend cooking with it? I saw the comment concerning grilled sourdough and scrambled eggs, but what else would you recommend?

  • Emily

    I really appreciate this post! I started making my own ghee since it’s so hot right now. But like a lot of trends I’m not always sure about the benefits. I am a PA and always appreciate your evidence based approach and also so glad to hear you are going the PA route. You will not be disappointed! At least once you are done with the school part, that part is rough.

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  • Annie

    Is there a reason you use 1sp of coconut oil / ghee vs. a tbsp? Most of the recipes I see suggest 1 full tablespoon, but I’m looking to make a matcha bulletproof as a pre-workout / post-breakfast.

    Would love your advice!

    Thank you!

    • Katie

      This is just what works best for me! I use a teaspoon each of ghee and brain octane (or XCT / MCT / coconut oil) right before my workout and it powers me through until breakfast. I don’t use it as a meal replacement, but as a pre-workout so I don’t find I need the full tablespoon of each. But other people like adding more! You’ll have to experiment to see what you find is best for you.

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