Ghee has several names: desi ghee or clarified butter or anhydrous butter oil and is a common ingredient found in traditional Indian cooking. Ghee is used to sautéing spices, coat rice before cooking, and brown and sear meats. While it is important for ghee, like other fats, to be consumed in moderation, it is different in that it is safe for those suffering from dairy allergies. This is because the casein and lactose are almost completely removed during the clarification process. Ghee adds more flavor than animal fats, regular butter, or frying oils when used for cooking. While ghee lovers are quick to believe in the health benefits and readily make their own at home, the skeptics point out that ghee has a high ratio of saturated fat. The debate never ceases to end!
Facts about Ghee
- Pure ghee with water content completely removed does not have to be refrigerated, only stored in airtight containers.
- Ghee is often used in place of oil while deep frying because the smoke point of ghee is much higher (482 F / 250 C) than that of many oils.
- Used in moderation, ghee is reported to help memory functions, ulcers, burn wounds, and even to slow cancer and certain diseases.
- Although ghee doesn’t particularly smell bad when stored properly, it is rich with butyric acid. The word butyric comes from butyrum, the Latin word for butter.
- Ghee is made by heating butter to separate the liquid and milk solid portions from the fat.
- First and foremost, butter is boiled until its liquid evaporates and the solids of milk settle at the bottom of the pan and turn from golden to dark brown.
- Next, the remaining oil (the ghee) is allowed to cool until it becomes warm. It’s then strained before being put on to jars or containers. It can easily be made at home using grass-fed butter.
Note: The traditional Ayurvedic way to make ghee requires adding Indian yogurt cultures to the boiled butter after it has cooled slightly, letting it set for 12 hours at room temperature, churning it and then finally simmering a second time to produce a finished product.
Ghee Nutrition Profile
This is the nutrition data for one tablespoon (14 grams) of ghee.
- Calories: 112
- Fat: 13 grams
- Saturated fat: 8 grams
- Monounsaturated fat: 4 grams
- Polyunsaturated fat: 0.5 grams
- Protein: Trace amounts
- Carbs: Trace amounts
- Vitamin A: 8% of the RDI
- Vitamin E: 2% of the RDI
- Vitamin K: 1% of the RDI
Source of Energy
Ghee, because it contains medium and short-chain fatty acids, is hailed as the energy providing fat. Nursing mothers are often given laddoos loaded with ghee since they are filled with energy. Likewise, pinni is another Punjabi treat prepared in ghee, which is relished across North India, not just for its taste but for its energy-boosting properties too.
Source of Good Fat
In an effort to lose weight, you may have even considered eliminating all fats sources from your diet. But doing so may do you more harm than good. Fats, carbohydrates, and proteins are three macronutrients that are essential for sustaining a healthy life. Excluding even one of these from your diet is never a good way to lose weight. What you do need to do however is avoid all bad fats in fries, burgers, and processed junk, and choose better alternatives in the form of ghee, avocados, etc. Ghee is one of the most preferred instruments for oleation a process of ingesting oil over a period of time. This actually helps pull fat-soluble toxins out of the cells and triggers fat metabolism.
Maintains Intestinal Health
Ghee happens to be one of the highest quality food sources of butyric acid, which makes it the best option to support the health of the intestinal walls. The cells of the colon use butyric acid as their preferred source of energy.
Good for Heart
Much like all fats, ghee also has been guilty of shooting up cholesterol levels. But as opposed to popular belief, ghee is, in fact, a much safer choice to invest in for heart health as compared to refined oil. The fats present in ghee are not associated with heart disease in the way that long-chain fatty acids are, as they are used directly as energy by the body and not stored as fats. Studies have shown that ghee can be good for lowering bad cholesterol and increasing good cholesterol.
Keeps Constipation at Bay
Ghee has been touted as the bonafide solution if you need rescuing from problematic bowel movements. Milk and ghee make for a mild and effective remedy for constipation. Taking 1 or 2 teaspoonfuls of ghee in a cup of hot milk at night is an effective means of relieving constipation.
Ghee acts as a natural moisturizer. And we don’t mean it only by cursory application. Our skin membranes have fats or phospholipids in them. By consuming essential fats found in ghee, you can ensure good skin health not just from the outside, but from the inside too.
How does Ghee help in Weight Loss
- Digestion is the key to losing weight. While most vegetable or cooking oils are likely to slow down your body’s digestive system, fats in ghee stimulate it and make it better. So, adding ghee in your food may not be that bad.
- One of the most important benefits of ghee is that it contains an omega-6 fatty acid called conjugated linolenic acid (CLA) that is known to be helpful in modifying the body’s composition and reduce body fat levels, further helping you lose weight.
- Research suggests that ghee helps in mobilizing fat cells to be burnt for energy, further helping you reduce fat mass and increase lean body mass.
- Ghee consists of essential amino acids that help the fat cells to shrink in size.
- Besides, it comes packed with a range of benefits, ranging from preventing inflammation, which can further help you lose weight.
Ayurveda suggests having warm milk mixed with a teaspoonful of ghee to manage constipation. Constipation can lead to bloating and weight gain. So, it is best to resort to this home remedy whenever you suffer from constipation.
Based on the results of controlled studies, ghee doesn’t seem to affect LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels very much. However, people’s responses to saturated fat intake are highly divided. Those whose LDL cholesterol levels tend to increase in response to high saturated fat intake may want to limit their ghee or butter intake to one or two tablespoons per day.
Another concern is that during the production of ghee at high heat, its cholesterol may become oxidized. Oxidized cholesterol is associated with an increased risk of several diseases, including heart disease.
Ghee is a natural food and has had medicinal and culinary uses since time immemorial. It provides certain cooking advantages over butter and is definitely preferable if you have a dairy allergy or intolerance. However, at this point, there isn’t any evidence suggesting that it’s healthier than butter overall. Both butter and ghee can be enjoyed best in moderation.