Clarified Butter & Cholesterol

Lobster with Drawn Butter
Clarified butter enhances the taste of seafood. (Image: MarkWagonerProductions/iStock/Getty Images)

When you melt butter and remove the milk solids and water that rise to the top, you produce clarified butter. Despite its name, clarified butter does not have the same taste or smell of regular butter, and it can be heated to 400 degrees Fahrenheit before it burns. It is tasty as an ingredient in many Indian dishes, but it is also high in both saturated fats and cholesterol.

Cholesterol and Fat

Clarified butter contains more total fat than butter does, with 12.7 grams of total fat in clarified butter, compared with 11.5 grams of total fat in whole butter for a 1-tablespoon serving. A single tablespoon of clarified butter has almost 8 grams of saturated fat and 33 milligrams of cholesterol. Saturated fat and high cholesterol consumption are both associated with cardiovascular disease, including hardened arteries.

What Is Cholesterol?

There are two types of cholesterol -- high- and low-density lipoproteins. The first is considered “good” cholesterol, while the second is known as “bad” cholesterol. The majority of cholesterol in your body is made by your body, while the rest comes from your diet. Cholesterol is found only in animal products, such as butter and meats.

Dangers of Cholesterol

Cholesterol buildup will lead to blocked arteries, also known as atherosclerosis. This can lead to narrowed arteries, clots, and possibly heart attacks or strokes. The American Heart Association recommends that you limit your daily cholesterol intake to no more than 300 milligrams. For people with a history of heart disease or high LDL cholesterol levels, the suggested upper limit is 200 milligrams per day.

Clarified Butter Uses

Clarified butter can be used the same way as butter or other cooking oils, and imparts a rich taste to foods. It is also known as ghee in Indian cooking, and is frequently used to make curries and other traditional Indian dishes. Clarified butter has 0.03 gram of water per tablespoon, compared with 2.6 grams of water in whole butter, and lasts longer than regular butter. You can store clarified butter for three to six months in the fridge, although you can also keep it at room temperature.

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