Ghee is clarified butter, which means it has had the milk solids and water removed. It is used in Ayurvedic medicine to heal ailments from digestive complaints to memory loss. Although these benefits have yet to be proven by clinical research, ghee may possess certain qualities that can make you healthier.
Ghee contains a host of healthy vitamins that are essential to your body's functions. It contains A, D, E and K. Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin, meaning the body needs fat in order to process it, that is essential for vision and cellular growth. Vitamin D helps to maintain normal blood levels of calcium and phosphorus, which in turn keeps your bones strong. In addition, vitamin D may provide protection from osteoporosis, hypertension, cancer and several autoimmune diseases. Vitamin E contributes to healthy skin, hair and nails.
Thanks in part to the heating process, ghee contains oxysterols, or oxidized lipids, which may make it a healthier oil to use in cooking. According to a study published in the British Journal of Nutrition, oxidized fats may have a beneficial effect on atherosclerosis. In the study, mice that were fed a diet of oxidized fats experienced a marked decrease in blood lipid levels. The study concluded that oxidized fats inhibit atherosclerosis due to their ability to lower lipids in the blood plasma, as well as through their effect on the liver.
Essential Fatty Acids
Ghee also contains an essential fatty acid, linoleic acid, which has antioxidant properties. A 2010 study in Lipids in Health and Disease investigated the effects of linoleic acid on cancer cells. Dr. X. Lu and colleagues found that linoleic acid targets mitochondria in colorectal cancer cells, causing disruption in function and eventual cancer cell death. Researchers also concluded that linoleic acid increased cells oxidant status, making it a potent antioxidant substance.
Ghee has a higher "smoke point" than butter, which means that it can be cooked to a higher temperature before beginning to burn. This trait makes it ideal for cooking and sauteing. Ghee begins to burn between 375 and 485 degrees Fahrenheit, compared to 350 degrees for butter. The smoke from burning oil is a potential carcinogen, and has been associated with lung cancer; therefore, choosing ghee to pan-fry your food may be more healthy than butter or other oils.
Another attribute of ghee is that it does not contain lactose. During its processing, the heat is used to separate out the milk solids, including lactose. If you are lactose intolerant, you may not be sensitive to ghee, making it an ideal item to keep in your cabinet.
- Dr. Oz: Doctors Bust Medical Myths and Lies: Ghee
- Office of Dietary Supplements: Vitamin A
- Office of Dietary Supplements: Vitamin D
- British Journal of Nutrition; Feeding a Thermally Oxidised Fat Inhibits Atherosclerotic Plaque Formation in the Aortic Root of LDL Receptor-deficient Mice; Kämmerer I, Ringseis R and Eder K
- Lipids in Health and Disease; Linoleic Acid Suppresses Colorectal Cancer Cell Growth by Inducing Oxidant Stress and Mitochondrial Dysfunction; Lu X et al
- Butter image by Cornelia Pithart from Fotolia.com
This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.