Ghee or clarified butter is said to have originated from ancient India and is used in South Asian as well as Arabic cuisines. It is a main ingredient in Ayurvedic preparations and Indian (Hindu) religious practices and rituals.
It has however been portrayed as somewhat of a villain in recent times. Why is that? Well, it could be vested interest but let us see what some of the common misconceptions are and how ghee can actually be beneficial for you.
What is ghee?
Ghee is a type of clarified butter where the water and milk solids have been removed.
What are the common misconceptions on ghee?
- Ghee is fattening - Ghee is lipolytic by nature which means that it can break down fat. This is because of the short chain fatty acid structure that is unique to ghee.
- Ghee is a saturated fat – Yes, it is true that ghee is a saturated fat, but a good one at that. Why? The unique fatty acid structure helps mobilise fats from stubborn fat areas of the body. It is not the same as saturated fat like trans-fats present in cakes, biscuits, cakes etc.
- Ghee is harmful for the heart – In fact, it is rich in antioxidants, conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) and fat-soluble vitamins like A, E, D, and it is just what you need for a healthy heart.
- Ghee will increase cholesterol – Ghee, in fact, reduces high cholesterol levels by increasing contribution of lipids towards metabolism. The liver tends to produce excess cholesterol when under stress. Ghee helps you to de-stress, sleep better and wake up fresher.
- Ghee is good, but you must not eat too much of it – As per tradition, ghee is added to each meal, be it with rice or as a part of sweet preparation that is eaten as dessert. Ideally about 2 teaspoons of ghee is essential to be included per day in the diet.
What are the benefits of including ghee in your diet?
- Increases the strength of the joints
- Improves the texture of our skin, hair and nails
- Miraculous for our insulin sensitivity
- Helps to burn fat efficiently
- Keeps the brain alert
So despite the negative press that it has been receiving, ghee is in actuality, a good fat. We need the type of fat ghee provides to absorb fat-soluble vitamins like A and E. The fatty acids in ghee provide strength and hydration to the overworked joints (of the lower back and knees) and help to keep our muscles agile and strong.
Yes, overeating ghee can backfire – so how much should one consume every day? Ideally, it is good to consume about 2 teaspoons of ghee daily. Not too much, right? Nothing can beat the flavour and fragrance that ghee adds to food especially dal rice!
What else does it do?
- Adds flavour, fragrance and texture to food. One spoon of cow’s ghee per day helps you bring down high cholesterol, triglyceride and LDL levels and increase HDL (good cholesterol).
- Helps in the absorption of Vitamin D – very essential in the present day world where every other person seems to suffer from Vitamin D deficiency.
- For a better immune system - Ghee is known for its antiviral and antibacterial properties. Adding a dash of ghee to your food every day is like having your daily dose of “immune factors”.
- The antioxidants present in ghee makes it the best known anti-wrinkle and anti-ageing remedy you might have been looking for.
- Ghee takes nutrients from your food and delivers them through fat permeable membranes in the brain.
- Ghee gives you a feeling of satiety which will stop you from overeating.
Weird but true fact: A 15-year-old boy pulled from ruins 5 days after the powerful April 2015 Nepal earthquake survived on nothing but two cans of ghee! (Source: Wiki)
How does ghee aid diabetics?
It is common to see people completely avoiding ghee consumption when they hear they are diabetic because they want to go low on the calorie count, as advised by physicians. But this correlation might be actually wrong since addition of fat to food actually reduces the glycaemic index (GI) value of the food. Now, the fat referred to here is good fat, and not just any fat. So what is this good fat → Ghee!
Apart from diabetes, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) and obesity are seen to actually arise because of insulin-resistance and one good way of improving on this is to eat foods that have a low GI.
The addition of any fat to food reduces its GI and ghee suits this role perfectly . It works with other components in the food to make it work better for us. So, ghee helps regulate blood sugar levels and it reduces the risk of developing a possible metabolic disorder. This makes sure that instead of a rapid increase, there is a slow and steady rise in blood sugar and also better energy level throughout the day.
Ghee doesn’t just help fight obesity and diabetes but it will also help prevent heart diseases. Wondering if it is too late to start since you already have diabetes or obesity? Don’t worry; ghee will surely come to your rescue even if you start late. How? The slow and steady rise in blood sugar not only keeps you energetic all day, it also simplifies the assimilation task for the body to be effective in absorbing nutrients from the herbs and spices in your meals. As a cooking medium, try using ghee instead of oil, it has a higher smoking point compared to other oils and thus can be used safely.
So, incorporate ghee in your cooking and baking - you will not only love its fragrance and flavour, you will love what it actually does to your body.