In the 1980’s the use of full fatty foods suffered a major setback when vegetable oil companies began lobbying the government with statistics against saturated fats. This meant that traditional animal based fatty foods suddenly became out of fashion and considered unhealthy. They were labeled detrimental, and demonized by government guidelines, the media and the diet industry alike. Flash forward to 2015, and industry wide research has finally proven this perception invalid. Research has determined that in healthy people, it really doesn’t matter how much total fat and cholesterol are consumed. Saturated fats are now back in the good books and have been declared healthy again according to the US dietary guidelines.
So what does this mean for your diet in 2017? It means that full fatty foods are in, are recommended and are going to be the a superstar of 2017. One of these new healthy full-fat foods with additional benefits, is ghee, otherwise known as clarified butter. Ghee is going to be the new superfood to add into your pantry. This won’t be news for many people around the world, who have traditionally been using it for centuries, but for the western world… Ghee is making waves!
What is Ghee?
Ghee should not be confused with standard butter. Ghee is also called “clarified butter“, meaning it has been simmered long enough to have the milk particles separate from the fats. The milk solids are skimmed off, leaving behind pure, golden fat very high in linolenic acid. With this technique, ghee will not spoil like traditional butter can and it doesn’t need to be refrigerated. It is so long lasting that ghee can even be aged up to a hundred years, which is thought to enhance its numerous beneficial properties., and has a delightful flavor and is better for you than it’s dairy based cousin, butter.
Although we tend to strictly associate ghee with Indian cooking, it traditionally was not just restricted to just the Indian sub-continent. Clarified butter is used all over Asia and found throughout various cultural traditions in Africa.
Despite the fact that ghee tastes quite different than regular butter, it can easily be used as a butter replacement in most dishes. Importantly, because the milk solids are skimmed off, ghee can also be used in lactose intolerant diets.
Let’s take a closer look at the powerful health benefits ghee offers.
Rich in Vitamins and Minerals
Ghee is high in monounsaturated fats such as Omega-3’s and contains conjugated linoleic acid which can help manage asthma and actually reduce body fats. Another fatty acids found within ghee is butyric acid, which benefits the large intestine and colon health. On top of being high in essential fats, which the body needs to function, ghee is rich in fat soluble vitamins like vitamin A, vitamin D, and vitamin E.
Increases Digestive Function
Ghee promotes a healthy functioning digestive system. By stimulating the secretion of gastric acid it is able to stimulate the body to metabolize food much more quickly. By speeding up and smoothing out the digestive process overall it can also be a key component in a weight loss regime.
As mentioned above, ghee is also an important source of butyric acid. This acid is not only used for energy, but also promotes healthy intestinal walls. Both of these are important to digestive function.
Yoga, and ghee both originated in the Indian sub-continent and we shouldn’t be surprised that ghee happens to also promote higher flexibility. By lubricating the connective tissues, ghee is able to increase flexibility for yoga practitioners and is considered an important aspect of a traditional yogi diet and lifestyle.
Because ghee is processed by the body differently than normal butter it is directed primarily to the liver where it is turned directly into energy. Ghee contains a series of medium chain fatty acids, which are not processed into fats like other animal fats. This is extremely beneficial for people looking for an extra boost during their workday or before a workout.
Ghee is very easy for the body to assimilate and digest. Ghee is also an alkaline which is helpful in correcting the body’s acidic environment created by many of our regular dietary factors. Creating an alkaline environment is believed to be beneficial to the body since cells like cancer cannot replicate in an alkaline environment. Furthermore, since ghee tastes like butter, but has no milk solids or lactose, those who are dairy-sensitive can still enjoy this great flavor as an accent to their diets.
Other health benefits of including ghee in your diet are:
- Supports healthy nerve and brain function
- Supports recovery from depression and anxiety
- Very good for pregnant women and the developing baby’s nervous system and brain
- Ayurvedic practitioners believe it to be beneficial to those challenged by glaucoma and recommends a drop of lukewarm melted ghee for each eye before sleeping
- Ghee helps the body to absorb other vitamins and minerals, thus assists in the support of the immune system
- Ghee is basically the oil that helps the body function more smoothly, plus it tastes good!
You can buy organic ghee and incorporate into your diet very easily. Furthermore, ghee can be made in your own home for considerably less than purchasing it at your local whole foods market.
Making ghee and clarified butter are just about the same process, although you would keep your ghee on the heat a bit longer since you will want to make sure that all of the water, excess moisture and milk solids have been eliminated.
You will want to make your ghee out of the highest quality butter you can find. Butter made from the milk of grass-fed cows is best, but organic will do. Whatever you do, don’t use cheap butter!
Using a stainless steel pot, place your butter in it and put it on over medium-low heat. Set a timer for thirty minutes; it’s going to take right around that amount of time to complete this process. Do not turn up the heat, thinking that melting the butter quicker is better – it’s not.
When the butter has melted completely, three distinct layers will have formed; foam on the top, butterfat in the middle and the milk solids will have sunk to the bottom. As soon as the butter starts to sputter, turn the heat to low. You don’t want burned ghee!
On low heat, your butter will pick up a nice, slow boil. The foam won’t entirely go away, but it will lessen somewhat. Remove the foam with a spoon. It will keep forming, but that’s OK. It will eventually stop. Once the butter stops foaming, you’ve removed all of the other liquids from the butter. You’ll see the browned milk solids on the bottom of the pan.
Now you have ghee. Take the ghee off of the heat and get ready to strain it. You’ll want a smaller mesh strainer, lined with cheesecloth. Set that over a glass container and slowly pour the ghee through.
Your ghee should look like a clear golden pond of butterfat, begging for veggies to dip. It’s lovely in sauces that would have required lots of regular butter. Béchamel or any sauce requiring a roux are both particularly nice when started with ghee. Ghee is also very nice in or on biscuits or any other baked good where you want a decadent butter flavor.