Continuing my blog series ‘The Fat Debate’. Today, we will bring out one of the upbeat fat controversies – Ghee!
This is one of the foods which has been labelled ‘bad’ in our community for a long time now, but today has been promoted by nutritionists all over India, be it for hair, skin, constipation or even immunity.
Let’s clear the air then, shall we?
To start from scratch, Ghee is made from Milk. In India, milk from exotic breeds of cow dominates the market, followed by desi cows and then desi buffalos (There are no exotic breeds of buffalos in India!).
A naturally raised animal with a nutritious feed, ample activity in a clean environment would yield a great ghee with a healthy fat profile. Ghee made at home – from milk to malai, from malai to butter, then churned and heated, is the best one. Ghee, also known as Clarified Butter made from healthy & active animals’ milk would be something to look out for.
The processed ghee would be as good or bad as the nutrition & activity level of the animal. Let’s face it, there are plenty of brands of Ghee in the market today. A small tip to identify the mentioned traits would be the type of animal i.e. Exotic or Desi, Cow or Buffalo etc.
Exotic breeds of Cow are typically corn-fed, pumped with hormones/antibiotics and have almost negligible activity levels. One could just imagine the nutrient profile of their milk, then.
Preferably, the milk for ghee should come from the Indian breeds,- the one who walks around freely and grazes on nutritious grass. (A distinctive feature would be the Indian Cows have a hump on their neck, unlike Jersey or Friesian flat-back exotic breeds.)
Now, since we have established that desi ghee is healthier. Which ‘desi’ is your type?
Buffalo milk has much less cholesterol than cow’s milk, but their total fat quantity/calories is over double that of a cow! Cow’s milk on the other hand has much higher saturated fatty acids. Both have good quality and combinations of fatty acids.
Even if the fat profiles are brilliant, it is the extra ‘oomph factor’ observed only in a healthy ruminant.
A ghee devoid of external enhancers and supporters, but instead full of natural immune-boosters, antioxidants and other phytochemicals.
Finally, can everyone have Ghee? A frequently asked question. Yes, anyone can have ghee. Ghee has been in our tradition for ages, this isn’t a new trend. We must start to observe that all saturated fats are not the same. While we avoid the saturated fats in ‘fibre & iron rich’ processed foods; saturated fats in ghee are particularly distinctive.
As in my earlier blog, ‘Fat does not make you fat’ is a thought one mustn’t forget. So, go ahead with 2-3 teaspoons of ghee a day.
Although it is not recommended to avoid ghee completely, for certain medical conditions like cardio vascular diseases, high lipid profiles, chronic liver disorders and amongst the elderly, 1 teaspoon a day would be beneficial, keeping other fat consumption in check.
One could effortlessly come to a conclusion about ghee now, don’t you think? Ghee is beneficial to health.
My captivation for ghee from healthy, organic, naturally raised ruminants remain for yet another reason. Studies have shown ghee can promote all three aspects of mental functioning– learning, alertness and recall. In fact, most ghee based formulations in Ayurveda are aimed at treating ailments related to the nervous system, digestive system and psychological as well. Ghee or clarified butter is also resistant to free radical damage. The benefits don’t just stop there, unfortunately I must.
However, as discussed in my previous blogs, there is no quick remedy to any ailment. To put it delicately, one must be sure to consume the optimum amount of ghee in order to extract the most of it for you.
See you soon with the next series of the Fat Debate!