Liquid Gold – The Health Benefits of Ghee
Ghee is a dairy product which is made by heating cow’s butter and removing the water and milk solids. As all but a trace of the milk sugars and proteins is removed, it much more likely to be tolerated by those with an intolerance to casein or lactose. It contains all of the beneficial nutrients found in butter (e.g. the fat-soluble Vitamins A and D), but in an easier form to digest.
As the water has been removed, ghee has a very high smoke point around (485f or 250c), therefore it is very safe for use when cooking. You will notice that when cooking with ghee there is no hissing or popping and it gives food a lovely nutty, buttery flavour.
It is also very shelf stable and will last for at least 3 months unrefrigerated and indefinitely if proper care is taken not to contaminate it with water or other impurities.
A brief history of Ghee
The word ghee comes from the Hindi word for fat “ghī “. It is an ancient food used in Ayurvedic medicine, prayer rituals and cooking in India and other countries. In ancient times in India, ghee was described as “liquid gold” and was highly prized. Poorer members of the community would take a pot of ghee with them as a gift when visiting their superiors and it was considered an insult to serve rice to your guests without also offering them ghee. As ghee was in such high demand and so expensive to produce (the precious fat only makes up around 3-5% of butter), it became unaffordable for many people. This is why the unhealthy vegetable fats were first introduced. Vegetable fats would be mixed with ghee and sold as ‘vegetable ghee’ which was much cheaper to produce.
Ghee has been known as a substance which gives longevity due to its many health benefits. These health benefits are by far superior if the ghee is made with raw milk from grass fed cows, the time of year is also important as the most nutrient dense ghee is made from the raw milk taken from cows feeding on lush spring grass.
Some of the nutritional content includes;
- Vitamin A which is essential for the immune system, skin health, detoxification of certain compounds such as polychlorinated biphenyls and for the strengthening of bones.
- Vitamin E, an excellent antioxidant.
- Vitamin K2, which is required to move calcium into the bones and teeth helping to reduce osteoporosis and cavity formation.
- Vitamin D which is required for the absorption and bone utilisation of calcium, assists to coordinate the immune system to balance autoimmune conditions and fight infections, reduces the risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease and is involved in genetic expression resulting in orchestrating hundreds of metabolic processes.
- Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), which has been shown to assist with weight loss and reduce the risk of diabetes and certain cancers.
- Choline, an amino acid that prevents fat from being stored in the liver and is therapeutically used for non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. It is also a precursor for acetylcholine, an important neurotransmitter involved with memory and muscle contraction.
- Butyrate or butyric acid, a short chain fatty acid which helps to support healthy insulin levels and is anti- inflammatory. Butyrate has been shown to be particularly beneficial for those with IBS, Crohn’s and Ulcerative Colitis.
FMT Nutritional Therapist