Ghee, also known as clarified butter, has been deemed a bit of a super-fat in health circles for a variety of reasons, not the least of which are that it’s both paleo-friendly and lactose-free.
But while it’s currently on-trend, this butter derivative actually has a long history in the culinary and medicinal worlds of Southeast Asia, and may just be the fat to change the way you cook.
What is Ghee?
A butter derivative with no lactose? It almost seems too good to be true, and yet ghee is very real.
Ghee is a clarified butter that has had its milk solids toasted then skimmed away from the fat.
Resulting in a product that combines oil’s very high smoke point and butter’s rich, nutty flavor and excellent nutritional profile.
Ghee may only now be appearing on store shelves with any regularity.
But it’s been around for more than 5,000 years throughout the Indian subcontinent, where it is traditionally made from sacred cows’ milk and used in religious ceremonies.
Ghee is also commonly used as a cooking fat, particularly in Punjabi cuisine – the regional cuisine served in most Indian restaurants – where it is preferred to oil for its rich flavor.
Ghee Health Benefits
1. Does Not Cause Dairy Allergies
Ghee is produced from clarified butter. Which means that it does not contain the milk solids or other impurities that dairy products have.
Casein, which is the primary protein in milk, is present in very small amounts in ghee. It is also very low in lactose content.
So, if you are lactose or casein intolerant, you do not have to worry as ghee will not cause any negative reactions.
2. Helps In The Treatment Of Burns
Are you aware of ghee benefits for skin? Ghee is one of the most popular natural remedies for the treatment of burns.
It is also widely used for treating swelling in different parts of the body. Apart from this, it can also be used to reduce inflammation on the skin by applying it to the affected area.
If you suffer from severe dryness, ghee can also be used as a moisturizer for your skin as well as your scalp.
3. Reduces Inflammation
Ghee possesses butyric acid, which is one of the most beneficial short-chain fatty acids that the body needs.
Butyric acid has been shown, in recent research, to actually decrease inflammation in parts of the body, particularly in the gastrointestinal tract.
And is now a recommended dietary addition for some people with ulcerative colitis.
Furthermore, ghee enemas have long been used in traditional medicine for treating inflammation of all kinds.
4. Ghee Improves Digestion
As mentioned above, the short-chain fatty acid butyrate helps support a healthy digestive tract.
It works by stimulating the conversion of fiber into more butyric acid. Which is essential for detoxifying as well as the elimination of other fats and toxins.
Additionally, ghee benefits include increasing gastric acid and aiding in efficient digestion.
5. Provides Energy
Ghee is a storehouse of energy with almost 470 KJ of energy per tablespoon. It has plenty of medium-chain fatty acids. Which can be directly absorbed into the liver and burnt as energy.
It can release energy even hours after consumption, which means athletes can benefit from it.
Even if you eat a teaspoon of it before exercising, you will not feel depleted in the middle of your workout session.
In fact, these medium chain fatty acids burn other fats too.
6. Casein Free
Casein, the protein component of milk, is blamed for milk allergies (technically, an allergic reaction occurs to the protein in a food).
When gut flora is compromised, casein consumption can actually create an opiate effect on the brain because it is not being properly digested.
In the creation of ghee, the milk solids containing the lactose and casein float to the top, where they are removed.
Note that if you are actually allergic to milk, trace proteins in ghee may trigger a reaction.
Pure Indian Foods offers a lab-tested ghee, certified free of trace remnants of lactose and casein. Culturing – a fermentation process – eats up any traces of these components.
7. Cures Thyroid Dysfunction
Thyroid dysfunction is a common disorder among middle-aged women. It can lead to hormonal upheaval in the body along with reproductive problems.
Clarified butter or ghee contains no milk solids. And this dairy product is beneficial for those suffering from this unfortunate condition.
The gastrointestinal tracts and the immune system, which are both compromised by an abnormal thyroid gland, are protected by ghee.
Apart from that, thyroxin hormone is also regulated by chemicals present in ghee.
8. Provides Essential Healthy Fats
Your body needs certain fats to make sure that vital functions can be performed.
These functions include the protection of the stomach wall against digestive acids. Supporting the brain, nerve, and skin health as well as building cell membranes and strengthening them.
These benefits are provided by the fats in ghee without the hydrogenated oils, trans-fats or oxidized cholesterol that are found in butter and other oils.
9. Boosts Energy
The wide range of fats that compose ghee includes medium-chain fatty acids. Which are very useful for the body and can be processed by the liver and burnt as energy. Not passing into the adipose tissue or contributing to weight gain.
For athletes or other people with active, high-energy lifestyles, ghee can provide the necessary burst of energy that you might need to get through a challenging day.
10. Heart Health
Although most people associate butter with fat and a decline in heart health, the rich variety of fats in ghee can provide a healthy boost to the heart.
Omega-3 fatty acids can help decrease your levels of unhealthy cholesterol and provide an energetic balance to your fat intake.
11. Eye Care
The significant levels of vitamin A in ghee make it ideal for protecting eye health.
Carotenoids are antioxidants that specialize in eliminating and neutralizing the free radicals that attack the macular cells. Thereby preventing macular degeneration and the development of cataracts.
12. Ghee boasts bioavailable vitamin A
The dairy products of ruminants (cows, sheep, goats) grazing on grass provides an excellent source of fat-soluble vitamins including vitamin A.
These vitamins are stored primarily in the fat portion, so the concentration of vitamins in ghee is higher than in milk. Vitamin A plays an essential role in hormone balance, liver health, fertility, and stamina.
Contrary to popular belief, vitamin A cannot be obtained from plant sources such as carrots.
The conversion of carotenes in vegetables to the useable form of vitamin A is insignificant, and made further negligible by health conditions such as thyroid imbalances.
The vitamin A in ghee is both immediately useable by the body, and also contains the fatty acid cofactors required for absorption.
How to Make Ghee
The traditional Ayurvedic method of making ghee involves boiling raw milk, cooling it, adding yogurt cultures, and allowing it to sit for 12 hours before churning and simmering — a complicated process that makes store-bought ghee look like a better option.
But you can make ghee much more simply at home.
Begin by melting eight ounces of organic, grass-fed, unsalted butter in a saucepan. Simmer over a low heat, watching it carefully. First, the butter will foam up, then it will begin to bubble, like boiling water.
Once all of the water in the butter has boiled off, the butter will stop bubbling for a moment and then foam a second time; this means that all of the water has evaporated, and you are left with pure fat.
At this point, allow to cool for two to three minutes before straining through cheesecloth to remove the toasted milk solids.
Ghee can be kept in a dark place at room temperature for a month, stored in a sealed container.