Oh ghee glorious ghee!
Wait a moment….. before I start extolling the virtues of ghee let’s have a look at what it is exactly!
Ghee is clarified butter. This means that the butter has been cooked to separate the milk solids from the pure butter fat. This pure butter fat is the ghee!
As the milk solids have been removed ghee is usually easily digested by all. Even those who are lactose intolerant! It also has a much longer shelf life than butter. Aged ghee is revered in Ayurveda as a potent medicine for nervous system disorders and is often cooked with herbs to create a medicinal ghee.
Ghee has been given the cherished title of Rasayana in Ayurveda, meaning that which provides rejuvenation and deep nourishment for longevity and well being. It has, what is called in Sanskrit, a Sukshma or subtle quality that can penetrate deeply into our tissues and cells. It is often used as a vehicle when taking herbs to carry their special qualities deep into their target tissues. Its rejuvenative qualities help to prevent aging. I think it works as I saw someone I had not seen for 10 years recently and they thought I had not aged since they last saw me! Love that ghee!
Ghee is a good fat. However it is still a fat and therefore we only need small amounts to gain the benefits it gives.
According to an Australian Health Lipid Study 5-7gms is considered to be the average good level to be consumed daily. Personally, I believe this is a wee bit conservative. In my experience I can say that 10-15gms a day is fine. (Disclaimer: this is if that individual’s liver and gall bladder are in fine working order and if not then less is better rather than none).
For too many years fat has been vilified, but modern studies show we need fats for brain function, for building hormones, creating good cholesterol and many other cellular functions. And, ghee is especially good for healing an inflamed gut which is pertinent as troubled digestive systems are definitely on the rise.
Let’s have a look at how and why ghee is so beneficial…..
Ghee contains significant levels of fat soluble vitamins A, D & E; Omega-3s (monounsaturated fats) & other fatty acids such as conjugated linoleic acid and butyric acid, both of which have positive health benefits in the body. This is especially so when the cows have been treated well and are primarily grass fed. Happy cows equals better quality butter which creates a more sattvic, or nourishing ghee.
Some Specific Health Benefits of Ghee
It reduces inflammation in the body. Ghee’s is high in butyric acid, which is one of the most beneficial short-chain fatty acids that the body needs. Recent research as shown that butyric acid decreases inflammation in many parts of the body, particularly in the gastrointestinal tract. Use of ghee often brings beneficial results for people with ulcerative colitis. Ghee in the duodenum reduces excess acid secretion, thus helping to heal hyper-acidic related digestive disorders such as relux and ulcers.
Ghee does not increase your cholesterol. We need the Omega-3 fatty acids that ghee provides to help create the good cholesterol in our body that is a precursor to the production of many necessary hormones and to support good brain functioning such as memory and protect against dementia.
Ghee has a potent antioxidant capacity due to its high levels of vitamin A & carotenoids, plus the inflammation reducing power of linoleic and butyric acid, which eliminates free radicals. These create a wonderful food that can help reduce oxidative stress within the body and help to lower the risk for cariovascular disease. (1)
Ghee is composed of a wide range of fats including medium chain fatty acids which are processed by the liver and burnt as energy, thus not passing into adipose tissue and contributing to weight gain. It improves fat metabolism and can provide a slow release of energy to keep your energy and blood sugar levels stable throughout your day!
Ayurveda has long recognised the benefits of ghee for eyes. Vitamin A and carotenoids are antioxidants that assist in neutralizing the free radicals that attack the macular cells, thereby preventing macular degeneration and the development of cataracts. Ghee eye baths are often prescribed in Ayurveda to soothe and strengthen the eyes. (2)
Super Immune Booster! Once again the high butyric acid content of ghee comes to the fore as perhaps the most important element in ghee.It has been linked to the stimulation of T-cell production, which are the hard working cells of the immune system. In other words, ghee can supercharge your immune system in addition to all of its other health benefits!
In traditional Ayurveda ghee is useful in cleansing and in the detoxifying process of Panchakarma because it pulls fat-soluble toxins from deep in the tissues into the circulation to then be expelled.
Wondering where you can get some?
Most health food shops sell ghee and it is online too but, the best way to consume ghee is by making it yourself. And it is really easy to do so!
I recommend using local organic unsalted butter. (Why organic? Many chemicals and pesticides are lipophilic meaning they are attracted to foods that are high in fat and when consumed are then stored in the fat within our bodies. We want to give great health through consuming ghee, not a blast of poisons!)
- A heavy based saucepan
- Organic Butter – Minimum amount is 600gm.
- A piece of fine muslin about 30cm square
- A jam pourer is very useful (can purchase form any kitchen/cooking store)
- A large rubber band to hold the muslin in place around the jam pourer
- Place the butter into pot and cook on a medium to high heat.
- The butter will melt and start to froth up. Now turn the flame down to medium/low & allow it to simmer uncovered
- In the beginning it will look very cloudy and butter-like
- After about 10 mins it begins to turn a clear golden colour and soon you’ll be able to see to the bottom of the pot where the solids have fallen and are turning golden brown.
- It is not necessary to skim the froth off the ghee as the cooking process separates it all by itself and skimming just means that you lose some volume.
- Do not stir the ghee either…..just watch and allow the alchemical process to occur!
- The time of completion depends on a few factors: the volume you have chosen to make, how high or low the heat is and the size of your pot. If you use 600gms butter in a smallish heavy bottomed pot on a medium heat it will take approx 15 mins. Toward the end of this time do not leave your ghee!
- When nearly done it smells lovely, it is clear and has also become very quiet and still…another sign that it is ready
- If it starts to froth up again it means your heat is too high so turn the heat right down or off and allow the froth to disapate to see that it is clear and golden and that the milk solids on the bottom are also a little golden
- Pour ghee through the muslin into clean jars
- Leave the lids off until the ghee has cooled to avoid condensation moisture forming
- Does not need to be stored in the fridge as not milk solids remain.