It is conventionally used in South Asian cuisine
Ghee is a staple of Indian cuisine and has been revered for its rich flavour.
But this golden elixir is not just a culinary delight. It also contains a treasure trove of nutrients that can enhance overall well-being.
From promoting digestion to supporting skin health, ghee has gained recognition for its potential therapeutic properties.
We explore how this ancient ingredient can contribute to various aspects of our health, both inside and out.
From its nutritional composition to its impact on digestion, weight management, and more, we uncover the benefits of ghee.
What is Ghee?
Ghee is a type of clarified butter. Like butter, ghee is made from the milk of a cow that is more concentrated in fat than butter.
It contains the micronutrients and antioxidants of butter without the milk proteins (whey and casein) and lactose. This makes it suitable for lactose-intolerant sufferers.
This is because its water and milk solids have been removed and this allows for the clarified butter to withstand the warm weather.
It is conventionally used in South Asian cuisine as a cooking oil/ingredient and Ayurvedic (Indian) treatment.
There are two types of ghee; cultured and uncultured. Cultured ghee involves the fermentation (culturing) of milk/cream into yoghurt. This is then churned into butter and strained into ghee.
The latter skips the step of culturing milk/yoghurt, instead, the butter is heated and cooked into ghee.
How to Make Ghee?
The ghee-making process is simple. It is heated until the liquid and solids are separated.
Its high burning point makes ghee perfect for cooking. The beauty of ghee is that it can be made at home.
It can be made at home using unsalted butter. Here are the steps to follow to make the perfect clarified butter:
- Melt butter until the milk solids separate and settle at the bottom.
- Skim the cream that has risen to the top.
- Continue to heat the butter until the milk solids turn brown, this is what gives the ghee its colour and flavour.
- Strain the liquid into a container until the browned solids have been completely removed.
- Let it sit while it cools and solidifies.
Benefits of Ghee
Ghee is primarily composed of fats, particularly saturated fats, with a small number of other nutrients.
Depending on the brand or preparation method, the exact nutritional profile may vary slightly.
But here is a general breakdown of the nutrients found in ghee per 100 grams:
- Calories: Approximately 900 calories
- Total Fat: Approximately 100g
- Saturated Fat: Approximately 60g
- Monounsaturated Fat: Approximately 30g
- Polyunsaturated Fat: Approximately 3g
- Trans Fat: Less than 0.5g
- Cholesterol: Approximately 300mg
- Vitamin A: Approximately 3,000 International Units (IU)
- Vitamin E: Approximately 2mg
- Vitamin K: Approximately 50mg
- Trace amounts of other vitamins and minerals
Thanks to its impressive nutrient profile, ghee has been associated with several health benefits.
Cures Blocked Nose
According to Ayurveda, consuming ghee can help keep your body warm from within and it also helps cure a clogged nose.
Called the Nyasa treatment, it involves pouring a few drops of warm ghee into the nostrils first thing in the morning.
Doing so may provide quick relief as the ghee travels down to the throat and soothes the infection, helping to unblock the nose.
Make sure the ghee is pure and is at a lukewarm temperature.
Reducing Gut Inflammation
Ghee is believed to have anti-inflammatory properties that may help reduce gut inflammation.
It contains a short-chain fatty acid called butyric acid. Butyric acid has been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects in the gut.
It helps nourish the cells lining the intestines, promotes a healthy gut barrier function, and can reduce inflammation in the gut.
During the ghee-making process, the milk solids, including lactose and casein, are removed.
Lactose is a type of sugar found in milk, and casein is a milk protein. Some individuals may be intolerant to lactose or have sensitivities to casein, which can lead to gut inflammation.
By removing these components, ghee becomes more easily digestible and may be better tolerated by individuals with gut sensitivities.
Ghee also contains antioxidants such as Vitamin E, which can help reduce oxidative stress, which is linked to inflammation.
By reducing it, ghee may help alleviate inflammation in the gut.
Dr Umar, an eating disorder consultant from Worcester, says:
“A healthy heart begins with a healthy gut.”
Ghee does not just provide internal benefits, it also helps you on the outside, such as nourishing skin.
Ghee is rich in both saturated and unsaturated fats, which can help moisturise and hydrate the skin, especially for individuals with dry or dehydrated skin.
When applied topically, ghee forms a protective barrier on the skin’s surface, preventing moisture loss and keeping the skin supple.
When consumed internally, the healthy fats can aid in the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins and antioxidants, which are essential for maintaining healthy skin.
These nutrients include vitamins A, D, E, and K, which play important roles in skin health and appearance.
The Vitamin E content is also beneficial as it helps protect the skin from free radical damage caused by environmental factors such as pollution and UV radiation.
It may also assist in promoting skin repair and reducing the signs of ageing.
Another benefit is that it can help relieve constipation.
Ghee acts as a natural lubricant for the digestive system.
When consumed, it can help soften the stool and promote smoother bowel movements. The lubricating properties of ghee can make it easier for the stool to pass through the intestines, reducing the risk of constipation.
It is also believed to stimulate the production of digestive enzymes, which aid in the breakdown and absorption of nutrients.
According to the book The Complete Book of Home Remedies by Dr Vasant Lad, milk and ghee is an effective remedy.
The book notes: “Taking 1 or 2 teaspoonfuls of ghee in a cup of hot milk at bedtime is an effective but gentle means of relieving constipation.”
Ghee is a source of vitamin K2, a nutrient that plays a crucial role in bone health.
Vitamin K2 helps regulate calcium metabolism by ensuring that calcium is deposited in the bones and teeth rather than accumulating in soft tissues.
This helps promote bone strength and reduce the risk of conditions such as osteoporosis.
The small amounts of Vitamin D help enhance the absorption of dietary calcium, improving its availability for bone health.
The healthy fats present are important for the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins, such as Vitamin D, which is crucial for bone health.
Consuming adequate amounts of healthy fats can help support the absorption and utilisation of essential nutrients for bone strength.
Ghee is a source of healthy fats, which are more satiating compared to carbohydrates or proteins.
Including a moderate amount of ghee in meals can help promote a feeling of fullness and satisfaction, potentially reducing the urge to overeat or snack between meals.
Additionally, the rich flavour can enhance the taste of foods, making them more enjoyable and reducing the need for excessive seasoning or added fats.
The good balance of fats are essential when maintaining a healthy diet and these fats play a role in maintaining hormonal balance and supporting various bodily functions.
Consuming healthy fats, including ghee, can help regulate appetite, promote satiety and provide a steady source of energy throughout the day.
One type of fat is medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), which is easily absorbed and metabolised by the body.
MCTs are known for their potential to enhance fat burning and boost energy expenditure, which can support weight loss efforts.
Ghee is rich in vitamins and antioxidants.
Applying it to your hair can help moisturise and hydrate it, especially for individuals with dry or brittle hair.
The vitamin content help nourish the hair follicles, strengthen the hair strands, and promote healthy hair growth. Ghee’s nutrient content can also add a natural shine to the hair, making it look lustrous and vibrant.
Due to its potential anti-inflammatory properties, ghee can reduce dryness, itchiness and flakiness, conditions that are often associated with scalp inflammation.
A healthy scalp is essential for promoting optimal hair growth and maintaining overall hair health.
Meanwhile, the fatty acids can help protect the hair from environmental damage and heat styling.
Ghee forms a protective coating around the hair shaft, reducing the impact of external factors and minimising moisture loss. This can help prevent breakage, split ends and damage caused by heat-styling tools.
Ghee offers a number of benefits, proving that it is not merely a cooking ingredient.
But it is important to note that it is high in calories and saturated fats.
Therefore, moderation is key when incorporating it into your diet.
It is advisable to consult with a healthcare professional or registered dietitian if you have specific dietary concerns or conditions.