Ghee

Why A2 Milk Doesn't Matter for Ghee

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A1 & A2 Beta-Casein Proteins in Ghee

What are A1 & A2 Milk Proteins?

Milk is composed of proteins, sugars and fats. The cream is where the fats are stored. The whey and milk solids contain the protein and sugars. When we talk about “A1” or “A2” milks or proteins, we are talking about certain proteins found in the milk solids. About a third of the proteins found in the milk solids are beta-casein proteins. The most predominant types of beta-casein proteins are either type A1 or A2, but we’ll talk more about the specifics of A1 & A2 milk a bit later.

Allergies

Many people have allergies or intolerances to caseins, which can be found in most products containing milk proteins (think: cheeses, yogurt, and even butter in small amounts). People who want to avoid beta-casein proteins should only use milk products that have the milk solids removed, such as a ghee or whey. These could still contain trace amounts of milk solids and thus contain casein, but generally they are safe unless you have a very serious allergy to casein proteins.

Most commercial milks that are sold contain both A1 and A2 beta caseins. Let’s begin with a little history about dairy cows to understand how this came about.

The History & Research

In the beginning, cows originating in Africa and Asia all produced milk containing A2 type beta- casein proteins. As time progressed, man migrated into new territory and transported their cows.

Those that settled in Europe began to selectively breed cows. By breeding for certain traits such as stronger, healthier, or better milk producing cows, newer breeds began to develop. As these farmers continued to breed their herds a genetic mutation occurred. Cows began to produce the A1 type beta-casein.

As the breeding continued, the A1 beta-casein became more prevalent. More modern breeds, like the Holsteins, have an average ratio of about 50% A1 and 50% A2. But older breeds, like Jersey or Guernsey cows are predominately A2.

Research shows that A1 milk can cause adverse effects to your health. Studies have found that populations who drink A2 type milk have lower rates of autism, schizophrenia, diabetes mellitus-type 1 and heart disease. Some theories say that the problems arise from A1 milk as the proteins are broken down. This happens by processes such as pasteurization, homogenization, and by our bodies as we digest the proteins in our GI tract. Although this process is similar with A2 proteins, only the A1 proteins seem to cause problems.

Ghee: The Healthy Alternative

So, how does the A1/A2 issue impact ghee?  Simply put, it doesn't.

Ghee is made from the milk's cream, which is mostly fat to begin with. During the ghee making process, the small amounts of milk solids and liquid whey left in the cream are removed.

By definition, there is only a very slight potential to have trace amounts of A1 and A2 proteins remaining in the ghee since it's an oil with the proteins and sugars removed. Unless a person has a life-threatening allergy to dairy products, there is little to no chance that there would be any negative health consequences from using ghee. If a person did have such an extreme allergy to dairy, they would need to consult their allergy specialist before using ghee.

Bilona and clay pot pictured next to jar of Pure Indian Foods Organic Grassfed Cultured Ghee

A2 Bilona Ghee?

There is a lot of information about the superiority of A2 ghee on the Indian market these days that we believe needs some clarification.  Some companies promote A2 Bilona ghee. Bilona refers to cultured ghee made by churning. The idea is that it is best to consume A2 ghee since A1 milk could be harmful to our health. There is also some talk about the Ayurvedic properties of A2 ghee and the benefit of ghee churned in wooden vats or earthen pots. 

Does this really matter?

This is an important question since it is a fact that for many people A2 milk is much easier to digest and assimilate. But does this benefit apply to ghee as well? Possibly, but not likely.

Here’s why: A1 and A2 refer to specific proteins found in milk, but remember that ghee is virtually pure fat. The amount of A1 or A2, or any other milk protein in ghee is miniscule. That’s one of the reasons why you can safely leave it in your pantry or on your kitchen counter for months at a time. In fact, it is so small that unless a person is seriously allergic to dairy such that even the tiniest amounts could cause injury, illness or death, it really doesn’t apply.

The important thing to remember about ghee is that it should come from organic milk obtained from healthy cows raised on their natural diet of grass because these cows produce milk with a healthier balance of fats.

What about Bilona Ghee or Ghee Prepared in Earthen Pots?

Bilona ghee refers to making ghee with a wooden beater called a “Bilona.” While the idea of churning ghee with a bilona or making ghee in earthen pots sounds wonderful, we believe stainless equipment is the safest way to prepare ghee on the commercial market. For this reason, our ghee is made using only stainless-steel equipment during the entire manufacturing process. Although we love wooden and earthen pots, these are not considered sanitary for commercial food production which is why the US FDA requires the sole use of stainless steel as a precautionary measure.

If churning ghee at home, a properly cleaned and sanitized bilona, or wooden vat or earthen pot may be fine, but it can be risky and thus not allowed for commercial ghee production.

A2 Ghee and Ayurvedic Properties?

Finally, let’s address the idea that A2 ghee contains Ayurvedic properties. Since this term is a little vague, we will assume it means that A2 ghee has properties touted by Ayurveda.

But does it really? YES! It does, but so does all good quality ghee from organically raised, grassfed cows.

The numerous beneficial properties of ghee are critical to the practice of Ayurvedic medicine, however, remember that when making ghee, the milk solids and liquid whey are removed to such an extent that, unless somebody is so extremely sensitive to dairy that the tiniest amounts of any milk proteins could cause harm, then the protein types are of little to no consequence.

All good quality organic, grassfed ghee can be consumed for its beautiful, healthful properties. Ghee is tridoshic … it helps to bring balance to all three doshas (specific constitutional types) as described by Ayurveda.


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Difference Between Ghee and Cultured Ghee

Traditional Ghee Texture

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