By Dori Cranmore RN
It looks like butter; it’s made with butter; it smells like butter; so how healthy can ghee really be?
One of the healthiest of saturated fats, ghee offers many potential health benefits. Ghee is a Hindi word and this golden substance has actually been an important ingredient in fine European cuisine for centuries. Ancient Ayurvedic medicine has mentioned the health benefits of ghee in Indian culture for thousands of years.
So what is ghee? It’s nothing more than the pure butterfat extracted from milk. Butter has a high percentage of butterfat, but includes some additional water and impurities, whereas ghee is pure, 100% unadulterated butterfat. It’s often referred to as clarified butter. If you’ve ever melted butter, you’ve seen it separate into a clear, golden oil with whitish milk solids. Some of these solids foam and rise to the top, while others settle to the bottom. The clear golden oil that separates from the solids is ghee. It’s far more stable and less perishable than dairy butter. It doesn’t require refrigeration and can last many years.
Ghee has a high smoke point (250 °C 482 °F). You can cook and fry with ghee and it will not break down into free radicals like many other oils.
Ghee is rich in butyric acid which is great for healing the gut. Research shows that adequate production of butyric acid supports the production of killer T cells in the gut, and thus a strong immune system.
Ghee is also rich in the oil soluble vitamins A, E, K2 and CLA (Conjugated Linoleic Acid) – an antioxidant with anti-viral properties if it is sourced from grass fed cows.
Much like Coconut oil, ghee is rich in medium chain fatty acids which are absorbed directly to the liver (like carbs) and burned as energy. Athletes can use ghee as a consistent energy source. The energy from these medium chain fatty acids can be used to burn other fats in the system and lose weight.
Ghee nourishes the brain, helps inflammation and feeds our immune system. Ayurvedic physicians have used oral butyrate supplements and butyrate enemas to treat inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis for centuries.
Ghee is made from butter but the milk solids and impurities have been removed so most people who are lactose or casein intolerant have no issue with ghee.