By Dr Harold Gunatillake
Ghee is a class of clarified butter that originated in ancient India and is commonly used in South Asian, Iranian and Arabic cuisines, traditional medicine, and religious rituals.
In Hindi ghee is the word for fat. Sometimes they use the term ‘desi’ meaning real. It is an anhydrous milk fat prepared by heating butter or cream to just 100deg C to remove water content by boiling and evaporation and filtering out the precipitated milk solids.
Ghee is also referred to as clarified butter has a rich nutty flavour and used in India and Middle East for cooking instead of other oils. It has been used for thousands of years in Ayurveda as a therapeutic agent.
At one stage it was believed that the high incidence of heart disease in India was attributed to consuming ghee as a substitute to other unsaturated oils. Research done on Sprague-Dawley outbred rats, which served as a model for the general population, show no effect on serum cholesterol and triglycerides.
Ghee need not be refrigerated like butter
Both fats in butter and ghee are anti-inflammatory and promote gut health and inhibit cancer growth
Both butter and ghee have short chained butyric acid and in Greek butyric acid means butter. Butyric acid is found in milk, butter, parmesan cheese. When butter goes rancid butyric acid is liberated leading to an unpleasant odour. Ghee produces more butyric acid than butter and the difference is insignificant.
Ghee is free of milk sugar lactose and milk protein casein, whereas butter contains both in small amounts. Those who have lactose intolerance sensivities and allergies should try ghee as a butter substitute.
Both ghee and butter can handle heat at high temperatures but ghee has a higher smoking point (359 F) than butter. So use ghee for cooking at high temperatures in preference to butter. Butter is more suitable for baking at lower temperatures because of its sweeter taste.
Ghee was blamed for obesity and heart disease in India. However recently the Indian scientists have discovered that ghee from cow’s milk could protect us from cancer. The latest findings reported in the issue of the Indian Journal of Medical Research is that ghee enhances the availability of enzymes responsible for detoxification of cancer-cancer –causing substances and decreases the availability of those responsible for activation of carcinogens.
The initiation and progress of mammary cancer decreased in rats fed on cow ghee and a greater proportion of tumours detected in animals fed on soybean oil.
Dr Kansai a research worker in India stated that Ghee poses no danger to cardiac health as long as the total fat intake remains restricted to the prescribed limit. He said that ghee improves blood HDL- good cholesterol level, and on the other hand he does not recommend prescribing vegetable oil brands with highly unsaturated fat which is pro-carcinogenic.
Ghee is made from vegetables too. Vegetable ghee contains 14-40 percent Trans fats. Some researchers believe that increased consumption of vegetable ghee may be contributing to rising heart disease rates among Indians and Pakistanis.
In conclusion, there is no fear of using cow ghee as a substitute to butter and though having short chained fatty acids have no risk of heart disease and furthermore, suitable for those having lactose intolerance and allergies to milk products.
Add a tablespoonful of ghee into the water when cooking rice. Keep the rice in the fridge overnight. The starch in the rice gets more resistant to digestion and very suitable for diabetics who relish rice.
Try a tablespoon of ghee mixed with an equal quantity of honey every morning and enjoying the taste sipping. Gives you added energy for the day, take my word.
(Some reference to EcoWatch)