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 new superfoods 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 clarified, 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. 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.
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 unclarified 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.
Health Benefits of Ghee
Rarely, if ever, does an animal product become a superfood. However, ghee is vastly different from other fats on the superfood list. It can work in ways that olive oil, or coconut oil cannot. As mentioned above it also can be incorporated into dairy free diets with no issues. Ghee can provide your body with tons of essential minerals and vitamins which aren’t available in normal butter and therefore provides the human body with a huge diversity of powerful health benefits.
Traditionally in Ayurvedic medicine, ghee has been used to treat a variety of issues such as alcoholism, epilepsy, and fever as well as used in topical treatments. It can be mixed with herbs, honey or other substances to increase its benefits and many use it for beauty applications. Ghee can be found in health food stores, or very easily made yourself by simply simmering butter until the milk solids separate and skimming them off. It can be taken as a supplement, 2 teaspoons a day, or easily used in lieu of butter when cooking. When using to fry with it can be heated to 450F without smoking.
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.