Ghee has been a staple of Indian households for centuries.
It’s also been an integral part of Ayurveda medicines and even has a holy significance and used as a ‘samagri’ to worship Hindus Gods.
Ghee is a by-product of milk. The milk can come from either buffaloes or cows.
India is the largest producer of cow and buffalo milk.
The market size of Ghee in India was 10,000 crores (USD 1.5 Billion) as of 2016.1<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ghee/>
Indians (especially North Indians) love Ghee.
However, in the past few decades, the popularity of Ghee has suffered due to the fact that ~70% of calories in Ghee come from saturated fats.
Because of this fact, most people started to replace Ghee with so-called healthier alternatives like vegetable oils (sunflower, saffola etc).
In this article, we’ll discuss the following:
- How is Ghee Made
- Is Ghee good for Health?
- How much Ghee should you consume daily
- Conclusion and My Recommendation
How to Make Ghee at Home
Ghee is clarified butter and is a by-product of milk. It has a nutty flavor and has many health benefits that I will discuss below.
But first, let’s understand the process of making Ghee at home.
Start by saving the cream (malia) that floats on top of the milk now and then in a big container.
The ‘malia’ that I am referring to is white makhaan, commonly known as ‘butter’ in the developed nations.
Ensure that you store this container in the fridge at all times. Please note you can only collect the butter and store it in the refrigerator for a few days.
If you prefer to make a large quantity of Ghee at once, then it’s better to freeze the butter (makhaan). This way, you can store it for about a month!
Once you have collected enough butter, then take it out from the fridge for about a few hours on the day you decide to make Ghee.
Empty the contents in a container and put it on the gas and bring it to boil.
After some time, the butter will start to go to the bottom, and a yellowish/golden liquid will begin to float on the top. This is Ghee.
Keep the heat on until all the butter (‘makhaan’) settles at the bottom and the Ghee is floating on the top.
Strain this Ghee and store it in a container for use.
Remember, Ghee is liquid at room temperatures; however, it can turn solid when refrigerated.
Shelf-Life of Ghee
There may be some milk solids left in Ghee when you make it at home. The shelf life of this Ghee will be shorter, something like a month.
The presence of milk solids will start to ferment the Ghee, and it will probably start to smell bad after about a few weeks.
To ensure that your homemade Ghee lasts at least a month or so, make sure you store it in a glass container with a tight light. And the place you keep is dry and away from the sunlight.
This problem is nonexistent in-store bought-ghee as the process is done in a more sophisticated manner where it’s ensured that no milk solids are present which can cause the Ghee to turn bad and usually have a shelf life of up to a year!
Remember any Ghee (be it homemade or store-bought) can be healthy provided the source of the milk is from grass-fed/pasture-raised cows!
In India, Ghee from grass-fed cows is known as Pure Ghee or Desi Ghee.
The same can be referred to as Grass-Fed Ghee, Ayurvedic Ghee in the Western Countries.
Desi Ghee or Ayurvedic Ghee is sourced from grass-fed cows that are pasture-raised for the entire year.
The nutrition profile of this Ghee is superior to the Ghee that you find in the retail store.
Is Ghee good for you? | Ghee Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits
In this section, I will discuss the nutrition profile and health benefits of Desi Ghee or Grass-Fed Ghee.
1 Tablespoon (15g) of Ghee contains: 135 calories
It also has all the fat-soluble vitamins like Vitamin A, D, E & K.
Since Ghee contains healthy fats, it helps in the absorption of the above vitamins (which are fat-soluble and require fat as a medium to be absorbed in the human body)
Fats: Total Fats: 15g. Saturated fats: 10g, monounsaturated fats: 4g, polyunsaturated fats: 1g, Transfats: 0g
Carbohydrates: 0g, Protein: 0g.
Ghee contains CLA
Ghee that comes from pasture-raised cows milk contains conjugated linoleic acid (CLA).
When compared with commercial Ghee (which comes from grain-fed cows), the grass-fed variety contains 3-5 times more CLA.2<https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ejlt.201400469 > 3<https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5980250/>
CLA has immense health benefits like anti-carcinogenic properties, can help you cut body fat, build stronger bones, and also fight chronic inflammation.
However, the research on CLA on humans is minimal, and we have to wait further to conclude the above statement.
Ghee is viable for people who are lactose intolerant.
Since there are little or no milk solids in it, the milk sugar (lactose) is virtually nonexistent, making it suitable for people with lactose intolerance.
Ghee is ideal for cooking (including deep frying)
Besides Coconut oil, I recommended Ghee for cooking. Ghee has a smoke point of 485 degrees F (250 degrees C), which is much above the smoke points of most vegetable oils.
The high smoke point ensures that Ghee does not turn rancid when subjected to high temperatures.
When oil turns rancid, it forms free radicals (highly reactive species that cause cell damage) and also produces a toxic compound called acrylamide.4<https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27374529>
Acrylamide is categorized as an extremely hazardous substance. 5<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acrylamide>
Another way people ingest this harmful chemical is via smoking.
Ghee is considered sacred in Ayurveda.
Ayurveda is an ancient medical system of India spanning over 5000 years!
It considers Ghee as sacred and an integral part of the Hindu religious ceremonies.
Ghee also provides nourishment, aids in digestion, and can be used as a moisturizer or massage oil.
Ghee is considered a sattvic food with healing properties.
Ghee and Weight Loss | Ghee and Weight Gain
Ghee can be a part of a weight-loss diet or a weight gain diet.
The most important thing when it comes to weight loss/weight gain is the total calories you eat in a day.
If you want to gain weight, it’s best to eat the same calories as your TDEE or slightly more than this (assuming your body fat percentage is less than 15% for men and less than 25% for women).
Note: If your body fat percentage is more than the ranges given above, it’s best to drop your body fat before gaining muscle/weight.
Now, if you have been following my work, you know that I recommend a generous amount of healthy fat intake.
Overall it’s best to consume at least 20% (up to 40% or even 50%) of your total calorie intake from healthy fats!
For example, if your daily caloric intake is 1800 calories, then 20% of 1800 is 360 calories. This equates to 40g of fats (360/9 as 1g of fat has 9 calories).
Conclusion and My Recommendation
Ghee has been used for thousands of years and has been a staple cooking oil in Indian households.
Ayurveda considers it sacred with healing properties.
Western medical science is not even a century old, and its ideas related to various topics keeps changing every few decades!
It blamed saturated fat for all the diseases; however, in the past decade, new evidence has started to emerge that proves otherwise.
From my experience, I would strongly recommend you find a source of Ghee, that is sourced from happy pasture-raised cows!
Once you do, start using Ghee as your cooking oil. The flavor you’ll get when you cook in Ghee is just fabulous.
Just keep in mind that Ghee is pure fat. And if you cannot burn it off, it will be stored as body fat.
If you consume between 1800-2500 calories, then I would recommend you to include 15-20g of Ghee.
If you are on a Ketogenic diet (or a variation of a low-carb diet), you can increase your Ghee serving size by 1.5x or even double the amount.
What do you think about Ghee?
Do you use it as cooking oil? Have any questions or comments? Let me know below!
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