Ghee: Health benefits

By: Nutrition expert- Vidula Kozarekar, Mumbai

Email id: vidula708@gmail.com

Ghee is a type of clarified butter fat that has been produced and utilized in India from antiquity. It is used in Ayurveda as a therapeutic agent and also for religious rituals. It is popular in India because of its nutritional attributes and characteristic flavour and aroma and is considered as sacred food.

Ghee is believed to be a coolant, capable of increasing mental power, physical appearance, curative of ulcers and eye diseases.

Nutritional Value:

As a human food, ghee has been accepted universally as superior fat to other fats, mainly because of its characteristic short chain fatty acids content, which are responsible for its better digestibility and anti-cancer properties. Ghee is also an important carrier of fat soluble vitamins (A, D, E, K) and essential fatty-acids (linolenic acid and arachidonic acid), apart from having rich and pleasant sensory properties.

Health Benefits:

  • Anti-obesity factor

Ghee is nutritionally superior to other oils/fats because of its medium chain fatty acids (MCFAs) content, which are absorbed directly by the liver and burned to provide energy. Therefore, for athletes it can be of consistent energy source. Also, the energy from medium chain fatty acids can be used to burn other fats in the system and to lose weight; therefore the anti-obesity properties of these MCFAs are well recognized (1), (2).

  • Aids Digestion

Ghee (unlike other oils) exclusively contain butyric acid; a short chain fatty acid, which contributes to its distinct flavour and easy digestion. Beneficial intestinal bacteria convert fibre into butyric acid and then use that for energy and intestinal wall support (3).

It is proved that people with unhealthy digestive tracts do not produce butyric acid. Research shows that adequate production of butyric acid supports the production of killer T cells in the gut and thus a strong immune system (4).

  • Wound healing

In addition, ghee based formulations are well scripted in Ayurvedic system of medicines used for wound healing purposes (5).

  • Boon for Lactose Intolerant

Ghee is lactose-free. It doesn’t cause allergies in those who suffer from dairy or casein intolerance.

  • Strengthens Bones

Ghee is rich in Vitamin K, which helps in calcium absorption. It helps in the prevention of tooth decay and prevents atherosclerosis.

  • Enhances Taste

Ghee enhances the taste of any dish that it is added to a bowl of simple Khichadi becomes tastier after adding ghee.

  • An Appetizer

Ghee consumption increases appetite in kids and adults alike. This is another reason to add it to your child’s food.

  • For healthy skin

Pure desi ghee is made out of cow’s milk and is said to be extremely powerful in giving you a soft and supple skin. Ghee is known to be suitable for all skin types and it also has vital fatty acids that help in hydration of the skin cells.

Conclusion:

Incredibly versatile and easy to use, ghee can replace other fats in your diet and can be used for roasting, sautéing or baking a variety of dishes.

References:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2874190/
  2. https://waseda.pure.elsevier.com/en/publications/effect-of-ingestion-of-medium-chain-triacylglycerols-on-moderate-
  3. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1111/j.1471-0307.2010.00572.x
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4275385/
  5. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0378874106000791

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