Ghee, a class of clarified butter, is formed when butter is boiled and the milk solids are removed. The concentrated residue of pure fats that is left behind is ghee.
Traditional clarified butter is created as soon as the water evaporates and the fat is separated from the milk solids. Whereas, while making ghee, the butter (churned from cream) is simmered for a longer time, until the milk solids caramelize.
Ghee has a distinct nutty taste, and does not contain any trace of milk proteins, sugars or water.
It is one of the highest food sources of butyric acid and is also packed with short-, medium- and long-chain fatty acids, both unsaturated and saturated. It also has omega-3 and omega-9 essential fatty acids as well as vitamins A, D, E and K.
In Asia, especially in India, ghee has been used for thousands of years. Apart from culinary uses, it is also used in many religious rituals and for medicinal purposes.
In recent years, ghee has gained popularity across the globe due its potential health benefits.
But like butter, ghee needs to be consumed in moderation to reap the benefits. Moderate use of ghee (prepared from grass-fed cows) is equivalent to about 3 to 4 teaspoons or less per day. When consumed in large amounts, ghee can be harmful to the body.
Here are the top reasons why ghee (clarified butter) is good for your health.
1. Builds Strong Bones
Ghee is one of the few foods that is rich in vitamin K, especially vitamin K2.
Vitamin K2 is essential for the body to help utilize minerals, including calcium. In fact, this vitamin builds bones better than calcium and a proper level is needed to protect against tooth decay.
Ghee also helps lubricate the joints and connective tissues and promotes flexibility.
A 2001 study published in Nutrition reports that vitamin K can modulate bone metabolism. Besides the gamma-carboxylation of osteocalcin (a protein believed to be involved in bone mineralization), increasing evidence also indicates that vitamin K positively affects calcium balance, a key mineral in bone metabolism.
The study notes that the Institute of Medicine increased the dietary reference intakes of vitamin K to 90 microg/d for females and 120 microg/d for males, which is an increase of approximately 50 percent from previous recommendations.
2. Immune System Booster
Clarified butter is also good for your immunity.
Butyric acid, an important element in ghee, helps stimulate T-cell production, which is important for the immune system to function properly.
Also, the antioxidant activity of ghee due to the presence of vitamin A aids in eliminating free radicals in the body. Vitamin A also helps reduce oxidative stress throughout the body, which can otherwise make the immune system weak.
Vitamin A is also a powerful antioxidant that may help with cancer prevention, especially in cases of ulcerative colitis that could otherwise lead to colon cancer.
3. Boosts Energy Level
Ghee can even give a boost to your metabolism as well as energy level.
The medium-chain fatty acids in it are especially useful for the body to increase your energy level. These fatty acids are quickly processed by the liver and burnt as energy. They do not pass into adipose tissue, which can contribute to weight gain.
At the same time, ghee aids in the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, E and K, which are important for better energy and stamina.
Experts recommend athletes use ghee as a consistent energy source.
4. Has High Smoking Point
Ghee has a higher smoking point compared to other oils like coconut oil or extra virgin olive oil. This is because heat sensitive components like milk solids are removed from the clarified butter.
This means that till the temperature of 482 degrees Fahrenheit or 250 degrees Celsius, it won’t break into free radicals and release acrolein, the substance responsible for making food smell and taste acrid.
Free radicals are unstable molecules that cause all sorts of health problems, from premature aging to cancer.
Since ghee has a higher smoke point, it won’t be broken into free radicals easily. This means, you are at a low risk of ingesting those harmful unstable molecules and causing harm to your body.