GHEE: The Great Indian Super Food
Whenever one enters an Indian kitchen, they are welcomed with an array of colorful spices being tossed with handpicked vegetables melting in deliciously aromatic ghee. Ghee is a variation of clarified butter, made by heating butter on low temperature for a longer duration while allowing the water existing in the butter to evaporate. The milk solids settled at the bottom after a while turn brown and are removed while the rest is strained to reveal clear pure goodness termed as ghee. It is pretty common for Indian mothers to feed the family with a spoonful of ghee each morning before breakfast, apply on scratches and burns or add a ‘tadka’ in the dal for dinner. We must not underestimate the belief Indian mothers have on ghee as Ayurveda, the ancient Indian medical system which relies on natural sources we get from the environment for acquiring mental, physical and spiritual well-being has mentioned ghee as liquid gold possessing endless health benefits. Around 6 millenniums ago, ghrita (ghee) was claimed to exhibit wonderous medicinal properties, from strengthening the immune system to treating selective dermatological accidents and issues, ghrita became an integral part of the Indian tradition.
This staple commonly found in Indian households has been gaining momentum across the globe as a better option than butter or other refined oils used for cooking but, the response continues to be ambiguous. Ghee has been advertised as an unhealthy and “fatty” alternative to other cooking oils or butter. The debate whether consuming ghee contributes to the existing unhealthy cholesterol problems in individuals or the probability of weight gain spikes because of its consumption has left thousands confused with what to choose for a healthier lifestyle. Among the endless benefits offered by ghee, a few are highlighted below benefits of ghee to urge you to commit to this alternative and enjoy the advantages it provides.
BENEFITS OF GHEE:
EXTENDED SHELF LIFE: Unlike its contemporaries, ghee practices an extended shelf life. Because the milk solids had already been removed while it was being made, refrigeration is not a necessity. Good quality ghee can last approximately 9-12 months even in climates suggesting high temperature. Butter has the tendency to spoil in room temperature but ghee can be stored for several weeks without getting spoiled, therefore it is practically a more economical option for domestic use.
PROMOTES WEIGHT LOSS: Ghee acts as an enriching source of conjugated linoleic acid, a polyunsaturated fat which is claimed to be effective in promoting weight loss. Several researches have proved that it contributes in combating obesity and reducing overall mass of body fat when coupled with enough bodily movement and healthier eating choices. Ghee helps in removing unhealthy fats and toxins from the body. Getting rid of the toxins in body ensures a boost in the metabolism rate, eventually increasing the pace of weight loss in individuals.
WORKS TOWARDS A HEALTHY GUT: Being a great source of Butyric acid, a short-chain fatty acid which proves to cleanse the digestive tract and thus improving gut health in individuals. It acts as a great laxative and also gets rid of all the toxins and unhealthy facts hindering the absorption of nutrients. This is why our elders often urge us to take a spoonful every day before a heavy meal. Issues like constipation, poor digestion, acidity etcetera are reduced to a minimum or just forced to go extinct.
DERMATOLOGICAL BENEFITS: Ghee does not have any adverse effects when applied externally on skin and even proves to be helpful in treating scratches, burns or wounds. It is extremely skin friendly and has healing properties, as already praised in the ayurveda. Internally, the vitamin A existing in ghee enriches the overall skin health and has a “glowing effect” on the skin.
ANTI INFLAMMATORY PROPERTIES: The butyric acid present in ghee allows it to possess anti inflammatory properties. Ghee is also rich in omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants such as Vitamin E also contribute to the anti-inflammatory properties of Ghee. Therefore, our elders often ask us to incorporate a few spoons in our meals and apply externally on skin or when one has burns.
IN FAVOUR OF INDIVIDUALS WITH LACTOSE INTOLERANCE: In the process of making ghee, the milk constituents are thoroughly removed. This allows individuals with dairy or casein sensitivity to enjoy their preferred meals cooked in ghee instead of butter, a healthier choice.
SUPPORTING HEART HEALTH: Even though ghee is rich in fats, they are not harmful in nature if ghee is consumed in a monitored manner. High concentrations of Omega-3 (healthy fatty acids) promote a healthy cardiovascular system. Unhealthy levels of cholesterols are discouraged and fats essential for the body to function are promoted.
BOOSTING THE IMMUNE SYSTEM: Ghee has multiple health benefits, from regulating hormones to healing the digestive tract, all the benefits overlap and boost the immunity collectively. As stated earlier, ghee supports butyric acid which helps in the production of T cells (cells responsible for fighting dangerous foreign bodies entering the body).
ENRICHING BODY HEALTH: Being rich in Vitamin K, Ghee boosts calcium absorption in individuals. Increase in calcium absorption helps the body to shield itself against conditions such as atherosclerosis and tooth decay. Ghee is an excellent regulator of body hormones, therefore issues rising due to hormone imbalances such as thyroid dysfunction or menstrual struggles such as PMS and irregular periods can be dealt with. Vitamin A in ghee contributes positively towards maintaining good eye health in individuals.
The aforementioned advantages of ghee clearly portray the nutritious benefits of ghee and why it is a beneficial option rather than going for butter or other cooking oils. Including ghee in your daily diet will have humungous positive effects for the overall well-being of the whole family. Yet, it is crucial to note that excess of anything always yields a catastrophic result therefore, ghee must be incorporated in a controlled manner. 2-3 spoonful of ghee per individual and distributed among meals is the way to go. One can take a spoonful in the morning, apply it on chapatis or use it for a ‘tadka’ (steaming mixture of ghee and spices) added to meals. This great Indian superfood will provide maximum nutritional benefits with limited calories and a mouth-watering taste inherited by our rich ancient history!