Glorious Ghee – a tasty fat that’s good for you!

ghee

Don’t you just love when foods that feel like an indulgence are actually super healthy? My favourite new decadent health food is ghee. Read on for all you need to know about this beautiful butter fat.

THE WHAT

Ghee, a staple of Indian cooking and Ayurvedic medicine, is pure butter fat. The golden liquid is made by heating butter and allowing the proteins, milk solids (sugars) and water to separate from the fat. What makes ghee especially delicious (and different from clarified butter) is the caramelizing of the milk solids, which infuses the fat with a sweetness reminiscent of shortbread cookies (YUM!). Ghee is simple to make and has many benefits and applications.

THE WHY

Ghee isn’t only full of flavour it’s full of vitamins! Fat soluble vitamins A, E, D and K2 to be exact. Vitamin A is an important antioxidant and supports bone and thyroid health. It is involved in protein digestion as well as RNA production (think cell communication and gene expression). Vitamin A is a crucial nutrient for gut healing and lung health as it ensures the integrity of mucosal cells. [1] While vitamin A can be sourced from vegetables it has to be converted from beta-carotene which can be difficult for infants, elderly, diabetics and people with thyroid issues. Animal sources of vitamin A don’t require conversion and are therefore more bioavailable.

Ghee is also a source of vitamin K2, a much talked about vitamin available only from animal sources (vs. K1 found in plants). K2 is being touted for its role in supporting bone and heart health. It is used to deposit calcium in appropriate locations (such as bones and teeth) and preventing problematic deposition of calcium in areas like the arteries and soft tissues. [2] K2 is also important for brain health, the utilizations of minerals and reproductive health. It is an important pre-conception and pregnancy nutrient for healthy facial and dental development in newborns.[3]

And we mustn’t forget vitamins E and D, key players in cardiovascular health and immune function.

Ghee is a source of helpful fats: butyric acid and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA). Butyric acid is a short chain fatty acid that fuels intestinal cells and feeds healthy bacteria in the colon. It normalizes cell function and has anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties. Studies in mice have shown butyric acid is helpful for metabolic health; lowering cholesterol, triglyceride and insulin levels. [4] CLA is a fatty acid with promising effects for cardiovascular health as well. It is known to protect against carcinogens, arterial plaque and diabetes. It may also be helpful for weight management. [1]

Another bonus of ghee is that it is lactose and casein free! When made properly all the problematic milk sugars and proteins are removed making it highly digestible. I myself cannot tolerate dairy and have found I can enjoy ghee without any problems (hooray!). Removing the milk solids also makes ghee an ideal fat for cooking as it has a high smoking point (about 250C/480F).

It is important to note that not all ghee is created equal. Udo Erasmus states “butter concentrates pesticides about 5-10 times more than oils of vegetable origins.”[4] This is why using antibiotic and hormone free dairy is so important. Taking it one step further and using butter from grass fed cows will ensure a higher ratio of omega 3: omega 6 and a higher concentration of vitamins. While grass fed dairy is hard to come by in Canada organic options come a close second (especially in the summer months) as cows are pastured whenever possible. Organic practices also ensure no hormones or antibiotics are present.

THE HOW

Ghee is super easy to make and adds amazing flavour to just about everything! I like this website’s detailed instructions on how to make ghee at home.

Try using ghee:

– to sauté vegetables
– to caramelize onions
– to fry eggs
– on top of popcorn or corn-on-the-cob
– in baking
– on top of toast, pancakes and waffles
– on top of hot cereal or cooked vegetables

 For an extra healthy spread try mixing coconut oil into liquid ghee. You’ll get an extra dose of those famous medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) and a milder flavour.

I highly encourage you to try incorporating ghee into your diet. I for one can attest: Life is better with butter ghee!

 

[1] http://www.joshgitalis.com/4-unexpected-benefits-of-ghee-aka-clarified-butter/#return-note-6905-1

[2] http://chriskresser.com/vitamin-k2-the-missing-nutrient

[3] http://www.westonaprice.org/health-topics/abcs-of-nutrition/on-the-trail-of-the-elusive-x-factor-a-sixty-two-year-old-mystery-finally-solved/#article

[4] Udo Erasmus, Fats that Heal Fats that Kill (1993)

http://www.sott.net/article/219981-Is-Butter-Healthy

http://nourishinghope.com/2011/10/ghee-rich-in-nutrients-and-casein-free/#sthash.pYn1MRrM.dpuf

 

 

 

 

 

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