A staple in traditional Indian cooking and Ayurvedic medicine, ghee is made through a simple process of boiling butter and then pouring off the butterfat, leaving behind the proteins (casein and whey) and the milk solids (which includes lactose). What’s left is also known as clarified butter.
Much like butter, ghee has gotten a bad reputation over the past 30 years due to its high saturated fat content. But research has revealed that instead of increasing the risk of heart disease, ghee actually decreases it — and that’s not the only trick it has up its sleeve. Ghee made from grass-fed butter is packed with vitamins A, D, E and K, as well as fatty acids CLA and butyric acid, leading to some interesting health benefits.
1. Ghee can reduce your risk of heart disease.
Despite the bad press it has received over the years, ghee may actually be protective against heart disease. Ghee is rich in conjugated linoleic acid, or CLA, a fatty acid known to be protective against carcinogens, artery plaque and diabetes. Because of these benefits, researchers say ghee can potentially be used to help prevent cardiovascular diseases.
One unfortunate result of the war on saturated fats has been the replacement of traditional foods with highly processed alternatives. One study points to the increase in consumption of vegetable ghee, which contains up to 40 per cent trans fatty acids, for the increase in cardiovascular disease amongst Indians. A study on a rural population in India showed that men who ate higher amounts of traditional ghee had lower incidences of heart disease than those who ate less of it.
2. Ghee can help you make beautiful babies.
If you’re planning on trying to conceive anytime soon, vitamin K2 is an important nutrient to incorporate into your diet. According to the Weston A. Price Foundation, vitamin K2 plays a crucial role in facial and dental development. Children born to mothers with high levels of vitamin K2 are more likely to have wide, symmetrical faces with plenty of room for straight, healthy teeth later on. Grass-fed ghee is a great source of vitamin K2, making it an important food for pre-conception and pregnancy.
3. Ghee can help heal your digestive tract.
Good digestion is the key to good health, and if you’re dealing with any sort of digestive issues, healing your gut lining is an important first step. Ghee is rich in butyric acid, a short-chain fatty acid that nourishes the cells of the intestines. According to Phyllis A. Balch, author of Prescription for Nutritional Healing, butyric acid is “a monounsaturated fatty acid [that] reduces inflammatory conditions, reduces seepage of undigested food particles, and aids in repair of the mucosal wall.”
4. Ghee may be able to help you lose weight.
Remember our good friend CLA? On top of its cardiovascular benefits, it’s also been shown to help prevent weight gain and aid in weight loss. According to one study, CLA supplementation in overweight participants showed significant weight loss over a six month period. Further study is needed, but if you’re hoping to shed pounds, replacing rancid, highly processed vegetable oils with grass-fed ghee may be a good place to start.