Ghee Is Indian Butter
By Dr Harold Gunatillake - Health writer
Ghee, butter, and coconut oil are favurite cooking oils, composed mainly of saturated fats. Like fatty acids in coconut the fatty acid chains in ghee are also short, having less than 11 carbon atoms in one chain of fatty acid. We call it saturated because all carbon atoms are linked with hydrogen atoms. Ghee has very little cholesterol per se, and the saturated fats in ghee are absorbed through the gut, through the portal system to the liver. Like coconut oil, ghee is also metabolised in the liver and does not contribute to serum cholesterol. It does not contain all of the calories and carbohydrates that butter does. So, do not point the finger at the obese Indian ladies who cover their ‘fatty bulges’ hiding beneath the sarees and ghee to be blamed for it.
Department of Biochemistry and Nutrition, Central Food Technological Research Institute, Mysore, Karnataka, India, in a research paper states: When rats were fed with ghee had lower levels of cholesterol esters in the serum as well as in the intestinal mucosa.
Both native and oxidized ghee influenced cholesterol metabolism. These results indicate that supplementation of diets with ghee lipids would increase the excretion of bile constituents and lower serum cholesterol levels.
Natural coconut oil does not contain cholesterol, though it contains saturated oils. On the other hand unheated ghee contained 0.16% cholesterol, of which 1.0% of total sterols were oxy-sterols, and the negligible amount of cholesterol does not influence the serum level in the blood.
Unlike coconut fat, ghee is fattening. Those who add ghee to boiled rice seem to enjoy the flavor, taste and tend to over eat. Eating coconut daily seems to slim you. In US. they promote coconut diets for slimming.
Ghee is the main content in some of the ayurvedic medicines. It is important to understand that cholesterol is not mentioned in the ayurvedic tradition.
It is also said that the incidence of heart disease increased in India when they started using vegetable oils (omega-6 types) conveniently bought from the super-markets and not bother preparing ghee from milk, as was done for centuries.
Our forefathers use to mix honey and ghee in equal portions and drink every morning for health. The combination may give added energy and strength, may have health benefits, and has a honey sweet, fatty oil taste, most pleasing to the taste buds.
Ghee has quite a long history, as it has been used in Indian cooking for many thousands of years. Ghee is an essential (and nutritional) element in much of Indian cuisine, much the way butter or margarine is used in American cooking. Ghee also transcends the cooking realm, as ghee is also often used in religious ceremonies and various healing arts in Indian culture. Additionally, Ghee’s nutritional and health benefits are touted as ideal for anyone from athletes to simple dieters.
Ghee being saturated oil and cannot be further hydrogenated to form trans fats.
Ghee is clarified butter. Proteins in the milk protein are removed from the ghee during clarifying process. Being lactose free, it is suitable for those who suffer from lactose intolerance. Ghee is slightly alkaline unlike butter which has an acidifying effect. It is soothing to the stomach containing acid juice and tends to heal stomach ulcers.
Each tablespoon of ghee contains approximately 14 grams of saturated fat. Being very fattening one should not consume more than a tablespoon of ghee in the food, or otherwise, daily. Ghee has a rich flavour; rich in sweet and deliciously nutty flavor, adding a lot to the flavor of the food cooked in ghee, and would be tempting to eat more than you should.
Being heavy, ghee remains in the gut for a longer time for digestion and absorption, and is suitable for diabetic patients when eating high glycemic (GI) foods, like rice and potatoes. The carbohydrates being digested and absorbed as glucose, spiking sugar levels are lacking in the blood when ghee is mixed with the food.
This is the same reason why biriyani and fried rice do not spike the sugar level in the blood.
Ghee is rich in antioxidants and helps to absorb fat soluble vitamins, and supposed to boost the immune system. May have cancer prevention benefits (not proved).
Ayurveda uses ghee both internally and externally as a massage oil in treatment for dryness, arthritis, and to loosen toxins from the fatty tissues. The Ayurvedic detoxification programme, Panchakarma, recommends eating ghee with meals, along with daily massage treatments to help bring the toxins out of the tissues and out to the surface. Since the body excretes mostly water soluble chemicals the ghee works to dissolve the lipid soluble toxins for elimination through the digestive tract.
According to Ayurveda practitioner, Dr. Vasant Lad, burning eye issues, eye stress or eye disorders such as glaucoma, can benefit from incorporating ghee into the diet. A popular eye treatment he recommends is to place one drop of lukewarm liquid ghee in each eye at bedtime to soothe and strengthen weak eyes.
Ghee can be made from butter. In fact, ghee is clarified butter. Place one to two pounds of butter in a saucepan on low heat and simmer until it start to separate. Once it reaches an amber colour remove from heat and let cool and strain through cheesecloth discarding the sediments. During the heating process the white curd is formed which sink to the bottom. Discard the curd and store the rest in a bottle. Ghee can be kept out of the fridge for a year so long as it does not come in contact with water. Ghee will not become rancid unlike butter and retains its original flavor and freshness for up to a year without being refrigerated. Ghee has almost nil moisture content and being stable oil is ‘shelf stable’
Butter is made mainly from cow’s milk, and ghee is made from buffalo milk.
Ghee contains beta-carotene and vitamin A, D, E, K, all fat soluble vitamins.
So, after all, Ghee is a good cooking oil like coconut oil. Ghee does not contain milk solids and is very stable at high heat like coconut oil. Because of its high smoke point (485F), it is considered one of the best oils for baking, sautéing and deep fat frying. Butter, on the other hand tends to precipitate the milk solids to the bottom of the pan, and they can burn and give an unpleasant odor, appearance and taste. When you sauté and fry with ghee, there is no hissing, popping or splattering. It also has a sweet aroma and actually becomes richer in flavour as well.
Cook your food using ghee as the oil of choice when you invite guests for a meal. The food will be exquisite and the host gets the credit. Believe me!