Ghee has long been considered the healthiest source of fat in the Ayurvedic diet. It may offer many benefits, including promoting longevity and protection from various diseases.
Ghee has been used for thousands of years as an Ayurvedic therapy. It has been used to:
strengthen the nervous system
lubricate connective tissues
This golden substance is considered to be sacred, and it’s used in many religious rituals in addition to being a part of people’s daily diet throughout many parts of the world.
Ghee is very similar to clarified butter or butter oil. It’s made by heating butter or milk fat until the liquid fats separate from the milk solids. But unlike clarified butter, the oil is strained and then continues heating until it turns a golden brown color.
This caramelization gives ghee a distinct nutty taste, and the entire process removes the milk proteins, sugars, and water. Once the process is complete, ghee is nearly 100 percent fat.
In recent years, ghee has gained popularity across the United States for its potential health benefits.
1. High smoke point
high smoke point
Butter isn’t exactly known for its ability to tolerate heat. Ghee can withstand higher temperatures than butter. Ghee can be used to roast or fry at high temperatures. Keep in mind that deep-frying is still unhealthy, even with ghee.
Never cook an oil above its smoke point. That way, you’ll get the most health benefits and protect against dangerous reactions.
Smoke point matters because heating oils too much can destroy beneficial compounds, create free radicals, and release harmful chemicals.
2. Rich in vitamin A
A single tablespoon of ghee has 8 percent of your daily recommended amount of vitamin A. This fat-soluble vitamin is important for proper immune function, vision, fertility, and healthy skin. It’s also a powerful antioxidant that may help with cancer prevention.
3. Contains vitamin E
Vitamin E is best known as an antioxidant that reduces signs of aging. However, vitamin E is also being studied for its potential to help prevent heart disease, dementia, cancer, and stroke. While 1 tablespoon of ghee only has 2 percent of your recommended daily amount of vitamin E, its fat content also helps you absorb the vitamin more easily.
4. It’s lactose-free
The clarification process of removing the fat solids from the butter oil removes the lactose and galactose that can cause stomach upset in some people. However, ghee still isn’t safe for people with a dairy allergy.
5. Rich in conjugated linoleic acid
Conjugated linoleic acid or CLA is a powerful antioxidant that has been shown to be anti-inflammatory, anticancer, and antiallergy. Milk fat is the richest natural source of CLA, and ghee and clarified butter are about 99.3 percent milk fat. Choose grass-fed ghee or make your own from grass-fed butter to get the most CLA.
6. May reduce heart disease
Thanks to its high levels of CLA, eating moderate amounts of ghee may help reduce the risk of heart disease.
7. High in saturated fat
Saturated fat has gotten a bad rap, but recent research showed that while it may cause an increase in total cholesterol, it also raises levels of good cholesterol. Ghee is 48 percent saturated fat, and much like coconut oil, it is believed to be safe for people who do not have pre-existing high cholesterol when consumed in moderation. The American Heart Association recommends limiting intake of saturated fats. However, the debate continues on the dangers and benefits of this fat.
8. Vitamin K
Vital for strong bones and blood clotting, vitamin K is fat-soluble. While this vitamin is naturally produced by bacteria in the digestive tract, the fat content of ghee may improve absorption. It also provides 1 percent of your daily need in 1 tablespoon.
9. Rich in beta carotene
Cows that are raised on a pasture produce yellow or golden milk fat. That’s because they’re eating plants that are loaded with the nutrient that turns carrots orange: beta carotene. Ghee has 25 milligrams of the eye-protecting vitamin. Opt for grass-fed ghee to get the most beta carotene.
10. Improves digestion
Butter is one of the richest dietary sources of butyrate or butyric acid. The acid is a short-chain fatty acid that may be beneficial to the digestive tract. It has been shown to potentially improve irritable bowel syndrome and digestion.
11. Heart health
Much like butter and saturated fats as a whole, ghee has been blamed for an increase in heart disease in India, especially coronary artery disease. But a new study claims that might not be true. However, there aren’t currently any studies that prove it is definitely beneficial for heart health. Even so, ghee is unlikely to be harmful to heart health when eaten in limited or moderate amounts.
12. Weight loss
Turns out eating ghee (and butter and whole milk) may help you lose weight and keep it off. A recent study found that a high intake of fat from dairy is associated with a lower risk of obesity.
13. Improves nutrient absorption
Spread ghee on your toast before you take your morning vitamins. It may help increase your absorption of fat-soluble vitamins like vitamins A, D, E, and K.
Ghee can be a good choice for people who are lactose intolerant or those who are looking for a healthy substitute for butter.
While ghee has its uses and benefits, it’s best to eat a variety of fats. Moderate use of ghee is equivalent to about 3 to 4 teaspoons or less per day. When consumed in these amounts, ghee can be a part of a healthy diet.