Ghee - The Color Yellow or Something Similar

(Michael - When reality fails to meet expectations, the problem is not reality.) #1

I’ve been happily consuming ghee for several years with the understanding that so-called ‘clarified butter’ is better from a keto perspective than plain butter since everything not fat has been removed by a simple process of heating. Until recently, all the various brands of ghee I had purchased with the generic name of ‘Desi Ghee’, including a couple of brands produced locally in the Vancouver area, were quite yellow in color. My most recent ghee purchase is the brand Nikmanesh from Iran. This ghee is very obviously less yellow, in fact more like yellow tinted.

Further, I know that the color of cow’s butter is determined primarily by it’s beta-carotene content which is derived from eating grass - or feed supplement. The color can also be influenced if the cows eat marigold flowers. Until recent standardization this, of course, meant that the color of butter varied a bit from month to month throughout the year with/without access to pasture. Hence, in the absence of the coloring agent annatto - which is not allowed in either Canada nor USA to be added to butter - yellow butter should mean butter richer in carotene and maybe other fat soluble nutritional elements. Or, maybe I’m wrong to think so.

My question: Is darker butter/ghee nutritionally better than light butter/ghee - or is there such a small difference in nutritional content the color is irrelevant?

(Take time to smell the bacon) #2

I would say that the only way to accurately answer that question would to have samples of each type of ghee analysed in a lab. Otherwise, all we can do is guess.

(Take time to smell the bacon) #3

Just out of curiosity: what colour is your ghee when you clarify it yourself from locally-sourced butter? Also, does the colour vary depending whether the original butter comes from cow’s milk or from buffalo’s milk?

(Michael - When reality fails to meet expectations, the problem is not reality.) #4

So far, I’ve discovered the following:

Desi ghee is dark yellow in part because of it’s processing, this from many sources. For example:

  • In ghee, the butter is cooked till the milk solids caramelize. Source
  • Ghee is heated for longer than other types of clarified butter, which contributes to a stronger and nuttier flavor, as well as a darker hue. Source

Ghee Color

BM (buffalo milk) ghee appears whitish in color owing to the absence of carotene, which imparts a yellow color to CM (cow milk) ghee.

Traditionally the ghee is prepared from Makkhan . Makkhan is also known as desi butter obtained by churning the fermented milk or dahi (yoghurt). During fermentation of milk, different volatile compounds are formed that impart a distinctive flavor in ghee prepared there from.


Desi ghee is a type of liquid butter obtained from cow/buffalo milk by adding yogurt culture…
Source Note: unfortunately, this is a study of ghee made from buffalo milk, so not much relevance to my specific question otherwise.

(Michael - When reality fails to meet expectations, the problem is not reality.) #5

For the curious or those who don’t have clue what we’re talking about, here are the basics:

For those who don’t want to bother with a PDF (it’s loaded with good data!):

Importance of ghee

Modern science now verified, what Ayurvedic health science has said since thousands years ago: Ghee is a health booster, offers cooking benefits and is good for the mind and spirit. Here are a few benefits:

Ghee is considered as ideal medium for deep frying because it possess high smoke point (250 °C) which is well above the normal cooking temperatures (180-200 °C) and also higher than most of the vegetable oils (Bader, 2010; Deosarkar et al, 2016). Ghee does not require refrigeration conditions to store, therefore does not spoil easily. It is not likely to affect people with a dairy or casein intolerance. Ghee is made from butter but the milk solids and impurities have been removed, so most people who are lactose or casein intolerant have no issue with ghee. It is rich in the oil soluble vitamins A and E (Achaya, 1997) and also rich in vitamin K2 and CLA (Conjugated Linoleic Acid); an antioxidant with anti-viral and anti-cancer properties, if sourced from grass fed cows (Dhiman et al, 1999, 2000).

Ghee is nutritionally superior to other oils/fats because of its medium chain fatty acids (MCFAs) content, which are absorbed directly by the liver and burned to provide energy. Therefore, for athletes it can be of consistent energy source. Also, the energy from medium chain fatty acids can be used to burn other fats in the system and to lose weight (St-Onge & Jones, 2008: Nokasa et al, 2009), therefore the anti-obesity properties of these MCFAs are well recognized. Ghee (unlike other oils)
exclusively contain butyric acid; a short chain fatty acid (Kumar et al, 2015), which contributes to its distinct flavor and easy digestion. Beneficial intestinal bacteria convert fiber into butyric acid and then use that for energy and intestinal wall support (Maurice Bugaut, 1987). A healthy body therefore makes its own form of ‘ghee’ but we are aiding that greatly by consuming of it. It is proved that people with unhealthy digestive tracts do not produce butyric acid. Research shows that adequate production of butyric acid supports the production of killer T cells in the gut and thus a strong immune system (Chang et al, 2014).

In addition, ghee based formulations are well scripted in Ayurvedic system of medicines used for wound healing purposes (Vure & Dorle, 2006). It was also observed that when rats fed with diets containing greater than 2.5 wt% of ghee showed lower levels of serum cholesterol compared with rats fed diets containing groundnut oil (Matam et al, 2000). Another study revealed that the consumption of ghee up to a 10% level in the diet altered blood lipid profiles in such a manner as not to elevate the risk factors for cardiovascular diseases (Matam et al, 1999). Ayurvedic physicians have been using ghee enemas for centuries to decrease inflammation.

Ghee stimulates the secretion of gastric acid, thus aiding in the digestive process.

In Ayurveda, ghee is placed under most satvic foods, and is considered to promote positivity, growth and expansion of consciousness. The positive subtle effects of ghee is said to come from the fact that it comes freely from cows. Cows are domestic animal in most parts of the world, but these are considered special and holy in Hindu cultures of India. Therefore, the milk from cows contains the essence of all those energies, and ghee is the essence of the milk. Ghee is used as a suitable carrier for many herbs and spices with different medicinal properties, which are to be absorbed and transported to targeted areas of the body. This is why, Ayurveda uses ghee in thousands of different herbal preparations for curing various ailments.


Ghee has been considered immensely superior to other fats mainly because of the presence of characteristic short chain fatty acids, carrier of four fat soluble vitamins viz., A, D, E, K and essential fatty acids such as linolenic acid and arachidonic acid. The market penetration of ghee is about 37% in urban areas and about 21% in rural areas. Daily consumption of ghee in an adequate amount, imparts various health benefits such as binds toxins, enhances complexion and glow of the face and body, a great rejuvenator for the eyes, increases physical and mental stamina etc. in addition to providing
sustaining energy.

Since, ghee is a fat-rich product; therefore natural antioxidants and other constituents like phospholipids and protein residues etc plays major role in preventing rancidity. Generally, synthetic antioxidants are also used in ghee to increase shelf life by preventing it from oxidative deterioration. Now, as per the mentioned benefits of ghee, more research is needed to validate the health promoting properties of ghee. It is one of the costlier products; hence ghee manufacturing could be a profitable business for rural India. At present, GOI, come up with different schemes for setting own business in dairy sector to improve the livelihood of the Indian peoples.

(Michael - When reality fails to meet expectations, the problem is not reality.) #6

The Nikmanesh ghee product I purchased is known as ‘Kermanshahi animal oil’ and it’s produced in the Iranian province of the same name from cows (and other domestic animals). The product I bought was made from cow milk exclusively. I’m finding it very difficult to get any information on the production and/or nutritional profile of Kermanshahi ghee. In fact, the only scholarly paper I’ve located is a study of the effect of Kermanashi and other animal fats on pre-menopausal breast cancer. Sigh…