Ghee: Health Benefits

In a recent Radio Interview, I had faced an interesting question, It was all about one of my favorite vegetable oils, Ghee. My primary thanks to Mrs. Mani & Radio Mirchi station for the opportunity extended to help their listeners to be healthier….

Ghee, made from butter, is the preferred cooking oil in India. It is a healing food in Indian Ayurveda medicine which has a 5000 year history, predating even Chinese medicine. Though sometimes confused as an unhealthy product, ghee goes beyond butter with more health benefits.

What is Ghee?

From a nutritional standpoint, both butter and ghee are basically made from the fats of whole milk. Although butter is almost always made from cow’s milk, the ghee used for cooking in India is often made from buffalo milk.

It is identical to a special group of fats found in human breast milk called medium-chain fatty acids (MCFA) also referred to as medium-chain triglycerides (MCT). These special fatty acids have been shown to stimulate the metabolism, improve digestion, strengthen the immune system, and protect against bacterial, viral, and fungal infections as well as protect the heart and arteries from the conditions that cause heart disease.

When comparing ghee to butter, Ghee wins due to the increased amount of medium-and short-chain fatty acids it contains. Our bodies metabolize medium-chain and short-chain fats differently than long-chain fats, and medium-and short-chain ones are not associated with cardiovascular problems in the same way as the long-chain ones are.

What benefit does it give to your health?

  • Ghee is salt and lactose free so it is beneficial for those who can’t drink milk or eat cheese.
  • Contains conjugated linolenic acid (CLA) which aids weight loss, especially stubborn belly fat, and has been shown to slow the progress of some types of cancer and heart disease.
  • Ghee usually has a higher smoke point, between 400˚-500˚F (204˚-260˚C). This higher smoke point can be an advantage when cooking at high heat since heat damages some of the components in a fat or oil, making it a popular choice for health-conscious cooks.
  • Ghee won’t turn rancid at room temperature like butter and retains it’s original flavor and freshness for up to a year without refrigeration.
  • Ghee contains beta-carotene and vitamins A, D, E and K. The Conjugated linoleic acid in ghee helps the body grow and develop. Linoleic acid is an essential fatty acid often lacking in a vegetarian diet.
  • Ghee gains further nutritional value because it’s lactose free, making it a safer alternative for those who are lactose intolerant.

It’s a misconception that all fats are bad for your heart. Whether or not ghee is better than butter really depends on what features you are considering. Our ancestors believed that there are various healing powers to ghee but others will say that’s not true. In the end, it really boils down to a personal preference. I have taken the initiative to clarify and vouch for the benefits of ghee; both my clients and I have gained these benefits  by moderating the levels of ghee in our diets. Of course, a few of them though diagnosed with high LDL levels have improved their heart health in a span of 24 weeks minimum. I am sure you can too! Don’t forget – stress and other lifestyle factors are just as important for heart and metabolic related diseases.

Final note- watch out for Processed vegetable ghee available in a store near you.It can and will elevate the risk factors for cardiovascular diseases.

Let me know your thoughts and experiences in the comments section. Chat with you below!