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Ghee Nutrition

by Christy Callahan

About Christy Callahan

Christy Callahan has been researching and writing in the integrative health care field for over five years, focusing on neuro-endocrinology. She has a Bachelor of Science degree in biology, earned credits toward a licensure in traditional Chinese medicine and is a certified Pilates and sport yoga instructor.

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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.

Vitamins

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.

Oxysterols

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.

Smoke Point

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.

Lactose

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.

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This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.