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Keto Queen Makes Millions with Ancient Indian Ghee

Keto Queen Makes Millions with Ancient Indian Ghee

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Ancient Indian ghee butter has been turned into gold by a Brazilian entrepreneur. Raquel Tavares, who lives in Los Angeles, California, founded the company Fourth & Heart with her life savings of $80,000. She went on to make millions selling ghee butter, a sugar-free healthy fat that's popular with people on keto diets.

Tavares is a Brazilian-born businesswoman based in California, and her company now sells 15 different products. According to a report in the Daily Mail, in 2016, Fourth & Heart made $2.2 million in revenue selling ghee butter, a form of highly-clarified butter that has been used since ancient times.

Wedging an Ancient Gap in a Tough Market

Ghee is popularly used in Middle Eastern cooking and traditional medicines, but the substance is believed to have emerged in ancient India. While to some it is no more than a popular food-fad, to others, it is an essential part of the keto diet. What’s more, this lactose-free butter stands up to being kept on the shelf at room temperature, instead of in refrigerators.

Tavares is both an entrepreneur and yogi, and in 2013 she got to thinking about the potential market for shelf-stable butter, and so Fourth & Heart was born. Investors were initially critical of Tavares for attempting to enter the butter industry, which is supported by agriculture and dairy giants.

Closeup of ghee butter - famous cooking ingredient and element of the keto diet. (Studio Dagdagaz / Adobe stock)

Closeup of ghee butter - famous cooking ingredient and element of the keto diet. (Studio Dagdagaz / Adobe stock)

How Ancient Foods Turned $80K into $18M

Tavares told Today Food that when she first launched her company, healthy fats like avocado oil were becoming more and more exposed to consumers. Her ghee product directly added to that emerging market, while at the same time having minimal direct competition. Tavares, being a yoga instructor, created the name Fourth & Heart after being inspired by the fourth chakra of the body: the heart, and she claims yoga gave her “patience”, which allowed her to “change course on the fly.”

The reason ghee has become so popular with the keto diet community is because it is high in fats and low in carbs, supplying healthy easy-to-digest oils into daily meals. This formula not only leapt from $80K to $2.2 million in revenue, but Tavares told Today Food she's since raised over $18 million in funding for her company.

The ’Did You Know' of Keto Diets

Tavares told Forbes magazine that she didn't know how fast her new company would take off, and she admitted being shocked by how quick her product started trending. Now, her Californian produce can be found on the shelves of popular stores including Ralph's, Target and Whole Foods. Tavares told Today Food that sometimes she has to take a moment to say, “wow look what I've created. Look at what we've created.”

If you’ve followed eating trends over the last decade or so, you can’t have avoided hearing of the high-fat, low-carb ketogenic diet, which has captivated popular culture. However, the modern history of this often-misunderstood diet, you might be surprised to learn owes its origins to groundbreaking epilepsy research completed almost a century ago.

Keto diet food ingredients. (George Dolgikh / Adobe stock)

Keto diet food ingredients. (George Dolgikh / Adobe stock)

Ancient Diets to Help Epilepsy

Tavares’ healthy products not only help people on keto diets to achieve and maintain weight loss while maintaining muscle growth, but they are also consumed by children with epilepsy for whom traditional seizure medications don’t work. According to an article on Nation Wide, when this happened in history, doctors mimicked a treatment “from ancient times”, the ketogenic diet.

The Bible refers to starvation as a treatment for seizures, and in references dating back to 500 BC, limiting or providing excess amounts of certain substances was sometimes found to be an effective treatment for physical ailments. In 1911, however, two physicians in Paris starved 20 patients and noted a reduction in seizures, but for obvious reasons this was not a long-term treatment.

In 1921, the ketogenic diet was first discovered as a long-term treatment for epilepsy and until 1970 the diet was used when medications didn’t work. Children usually ate large amounts of fat, just enough protein and limited fruits and vegetables, but the diet proved more difficult for older children being deprived of foods they loved in the past.

Top image: Ghee in a pot with spoon.     Source: vm2002 / Adobe stock

By Ashley Cowie

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Ashley is a Scottish historian, author, and documentary filmmaker presenting original perspectives on historical problems in accessible and exciting ways.

He was raised in Wick, a small fishing village in the county of Caithness on the north east coast of... Read More

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