Ghee, otherwise called clarified butter, is obtained by simmering butter prepared from cow or buffalo milk. Ghee originated from ancient India, widely used in fire sacrifices since Vedic times during many religious ceremonies. The important things is that, ghee benefits adults and kids in their overall development and health. In modern diet, it has often been treated as a cholesterol rich food but its goodness is something you cannot ignore.

Ghee differs from clarified butter as the latter contains milk solids which are removed while converting the butter into ghee by boiling. Ghee is an edible fat consumed in most regions of the world now. It is also used for culinary purposes.

The color, taste and flavor of ghee is based on the extent of boiling the butter. Indian traditional medicine has varied uses for ghee, particularly that from cow’s milk.

Nutrition facts

A table spoon of ghee (clarified butter) provides 112 calories of energy with 12.73gm fat (7.926gm saturated), 3.678gm monounsaturated and 0.473gm polyunsaturated fat and 0.04gm protein.

Nutritional value in 100gm ghee is estimated as fat 99.5gm (153% Recommended Daily Amount- RDA), saturated fat 61.9gm (310%RDA), trans fat 4gm, monounsaturated fat 28.7gm and polyunsaturated fat 3.7gm, vitamin A -3069 I.U and vitamin E 15.7mg (105%RDA). Cholesterol in ghee is 256 mg (85%RDA) with no carbohydrate.

Fat in ghee include 3.694 mg of omega 6 fatty acids and 25.026 mg of omega 9 fatty acids.

Why is ghee good for you? – ghee benefits for health

Besides its liberal use in culinary, ghee provides a number of health benefits by using it alone or by including it in many traditional medicines and formulations.

Prevents and cures inflammation

Ghee contains butyric acid which is a highly beneficial short-chain fatty acid required by the body. It has the ability to prevent and decrease inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract. People with ulcerative colitis are recommended to consume either directly or by adding to their normal diet for quick cure.

Butyric acid prevents any damage to the mucosal wall. Normally butyric acid is produced in the body by the intestinal good bacteria by converting fiber. But an unhealthy digestive tract is not able to produce butyric acid, and ghee is able to make up for this deficiency.

Strengthens the immune system

Butyric acid in ghee has the potential to stimulate production of T-cells in the gut, thereby strengthening the immune system.  Antiviral and antifungal properties present in ghee are powerful in strengthening the immune system.

Benefits cardiovascular system

Ghee contains an important fatty acid known as Conjugated Linoleic Acid- CLA, which can protect from carcinogens, diabetes and plaque in the arteries. By this specific activity this yellow superfood is helpful to the cardiovascular system. Moreover, omega 3 fatty acids in ghee decreases bad cholesterol and help maintain a desirable cholesterol ratio.

Prevents cancer

It contains vitamin A and carotenoids which eliminate the free radicals from the body. A powerful anti-cancer substance is formed by combination of carotenoids with the anti-oxidants conjugated linoleic acid and butyric acid. This combination reduces the oxidative stress in the body and prevents formation of cancer causing cells. Growth of mammary tumors is also inhibited by butyric acid.

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Weight reduction

CLA in ghee not only helps the cardiovascular system but also prevent weight gain. Moreover, the satiation property prevents consumption of higher quantities of food thereby preventing weight gain. Medium chain fatty acids are easily processed by the liver by burning into energy thereby preventing fat passing into adipose tissue. This particular function of liver on ghee helps reduction of weight.

Eye care

Vitamin A present in ghee protects eyes. Carotenoids present are vital anti-oxidants needed to eliminate and neutralize the free radicals, thus preventing macular degeneration and formation of cataract.

Some of the other benefits of ghee are:

  • Omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids in ghee helps the nerves and brain. Inclusion in daily diet can promote brain function and prevent Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
  • Consumption of ghee do not create gastrointestinal problems like butter since it is dairy-free.
  • Being a high calorie diet, it is an instant energy booster particularly for athletes.
  • Ghee consumption relieves joint pains.
  • It is used as a natural moisturizer.
  • Chapped lips are cured by application of ghee on the lips before bed time.
  • You can store it for months or years even without refrigeration.

Ghee is generally consumed by addition to the main course of diet or side dishes both for the taste and flavor. It is also used for frying as a substitute for coconut oil or olive oil.

As a word of caution, people with high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease or obesity are better advised not to consume ghee as it may be difficult to draw a line for the safe level of consumption. In addition to the quantity, some sources of ghee may also pose risks due to higher cholesterol content. Ghee is a healthy food only when consumed in small quantity.

Ramya Srinivasan, PDGBA, earned her Master’s degree in Business. As a result of her passion in native medicine, she got her Diploma in Traditional Siddha Medicine from Bharat Sevak Samaj registered under the Indian Planning Commission. She is certified by Stanford University School of Medicine in Introduction to Food and Health.