Desi Ghee | Pure Ghee | Clarified Butter - Nutrition And Health Benefits
Charak Samhita, the foundational Ayurvedic text says
"Of all oils fit for human consumption, Ghee is the best to consume"
For all purposes wherever ghee/pure ghee/desi ghee is mentioned in this article it invariably refers to Cow's Ghee.
Ghee is called Ghrita in Sanskrit.
Pure ghee or desi ghee, as we call it in India, is known as and referred to in the West as Clarified Butter. We can call it Indian clarified butter.
Desi ghee is considered pure and auspicious by Hindus and is offered to agni (fire) during pooja (worship).
However, in a strict sense, desi ghee or pure ghee is a type of clarified butter, as the major difference lies in the method of preparation of these two milk products. But for purposes here , we will refer to desi ghee as clarified butter.
Difference Between Clarified Butter & Ghee
Butter is obtained by removing the separated out butter when milk/cream/yogurt is churned.
This butter is then heated till it separates out into liquid ghee and the floating milk solids. The floating milk solids are strained out when this ghee is filtered. The milk solids are not allowed to caramelize so the clarified butter does not have a nutty flavor.
In ghee, the butter is cooked till the milk solids caramelize. The golden liquid ghee is then filtered to remove any remaining milk solids as well. This process results in a nutty aromatic flavored ghee.
Desi Ghee, Pure Ghee Or Clarified Butter As Per Ayurveda
Desi ghee or Ghee is made from butter prepared from the milk of buffaloes as well as cows. Butter could be obtained from milk cream as well as from whole milk.
Ayurveda considers ghee prepared from cow's milk to be supreme as ghee from this milk has many more health benefits than those obtained from buffalo milk. Ayurvedic preparations too in a major way use cow's ghee rather than buffalo milk.
For information here, I would like to add that there is another ghee called Dalda or Vanaspati that is made from vegetable oils by partial hydrogenation of these oils. Vanaspati is very high in trans fat. It is much cheaper than Pure Ghee.
Pure Ghee is considered by Ayurveda as Sattvic food meaning food that is not only pure and natural by itself but also that which has a positive influence on the body and mind and which helps in restoring balance between body and mind as well.
Because of its high smoke point, around 485 deg F, pure ghee is one of the safest cooking mediums as cancer causing free radicals are not produced at normal cooking temperatures, which are around 400 deg F.
Apart from being an integral part of Indian food and cooking, and incorporating it in Ayuvedic preparations, Desi ghee is also used in Ayurvedic cleansing therapies.
Pure ghee has negligible amount of lactose or casein and for all practical purposes it is considered to have none so that it can be safely consumed by those who have lactose intolerance. Even those who are gluten sensitive can consume it safely.
However, since it is very high in calories & saturated fats (though these fats are of the good kind), it should be consumed in moderation. One teaspoon a day is sufficient for a normal adult to derive its health benefits.
Desi Ghee calms both Vata (Air) & Pitta (Bile) and balances these doshas. And though it increases Kapha (Phlegm), it can safely be consumed in moderation by those who do not suffer from Kapha Dosha.
Pure ghee is a high quality oil considered akin to nectar having health giving and restoring properties. It does not need to be refrigerated and remains good at room temperature for years together.
Desi Ghee has infinite shelf life, just like honey. In fact, its benefits increase as it ages.
Do You Know?
10 year old Ghee is called Jheern
100 to 1000 year old Ghee is called Kaumbh
More than 1100 years old Ghee is called Maha Ghrit
Pure Ghee Nutrition Facts
Pure ghee is almost cent per cent fat having 62% saturated, 29% monounsaturated and 4% polyunsaturated fats.
- Is amongst foods having the highest concentration of butyric acid.
- Is rich in short chain and medium chain fatty acids, both saturated & unsaturated. The short chain fatty acids do not need to undergo digestion but are straightaway absorbed by the liver to be used as energy. Medium chain fatty acids also need to be digested minimally.
- Contains high levels of Omega 3 & Omega-6 & some Omega-9 fatty acids.
- Has excellent levels of vitamins A, D, E & K.
- Is a good source of CLA (conjugated linoleic acid).
- Is rich in phenolic antioxidants and several minerals.
- 1 tbsp of ghee provides 135 calories, 15 grams total fat & 9 grams saturated fat, which is 45% of the daily fat needed by us, & 45 mg of cholesterol.
When no more than 10% of total daily requirement of calories are consumed from ghee it reduces risk of heart disease.
This is equivalent to no more than 20 grams of fat from Ghee (2 tbsp of ghee) being consumed by an average person per day.
Rest of the fats ought to be consumed from oil derived from plants.
Health Benefits Of Ghee
Ghee possesses anti bacterial, anti viral, anti inflammatory & anti cancer properties.
Cow's ghee is definitely more superior than buffalo's ghee. Cow's ghee is the one that is used in Ayurvedic preparations.
As compared to butter, ghee contains about 40-50% more short chain & medium chain fatty acids. These fats do not increase risk of heart disease.
Some health benefits of ghee are enumerated below.
- Since ghee normalizes vata & pitta the 2 doshas it relieves afflictions caused by increase of these 2 doshas, air & heat in the body. This includes, joint pains, digestive issues etc.
- Among other benefits, ghee increases vision & controls eye pressure, benefits the hair & skin, increases the quantity and quality of semen.
In fact, ghee increases Ojas, the subtle energetic force that is the basis of one's health, stamina and immunity.
- Ayurveda recommends ghee for pregnant & lactating women as it nourishes the foetus, aids in lactation and also fortifies the breast milk.
- It stimulates secretion of stomach acids thereby helping to digest food and also aiding in absorption of nutrients.
- Ghee coats the intestines and thereby prevents the irritating effects of chillies & spices, neutralizes toxins and also detoxifies the body.
- It improves memory and intellect, strengthens the brain and improves mental health.
- It cures sinus headache, migraine and bleeding nose.
- Ghee aids in getting good sleep, lubricates the body inside out, the joints, muscles & connective tissue and increases flexibility and heals burns and wounds.
- When consumed in limit ghee helps to break down fat and promotes weight loss.
- It cures constipation when consumed and when applied externally it relieves pain and burning associated with piles and fissures.
- Improves voice clarity, relieves dry skin, improves lustre and complexion.
- Intake of low levels of ghee helps to lower cholesterol and triglycerides and prevents oxidation of lipids or fats.
- Ghee uplifts mood and raises energy levels.
- It helps in colonising the good gut bacteria which themselves produce butyric acid. Butyric acid is food for the colon cells. Thus colon health is improved and risk of colon cancer is reduced.
More butyric acid in the gut helps to raise gut immunity which incidentally accounts for 80% of the total body immunity. Therefore ensuring gut health is of utmost importance if total immunity is to be improved.
- Ghee is like a catalyst for herbs as it improves their healing efficacy. This is the reason herbs are added to ghee.
- The butyric acid in ghee helps to keep the intestine/ gut wall healthy and is especially useful in conditions like IBS, Crohn's disease and Ulcerative colitis. It also helps to reduce the growth of Candida and other pathogens.
- Ghee is excellent to build strength and increase energy after disease or illness and improve stamina and resistance.
- It provides very strong anti inflammatory properties, because it reduces leukotriene secretion and also levels of prostaglandin, both of which are causative factors for increase in inflammation.
Ghee is therefore beneficial in auto immune conditions and disorders like cancer, diabetes, arthritis, allergies etc and even cardiovascular disease.
- Ghee can replace sesame oil when dong oil pulling to enhance oral health.
But it needs to be emphasized here that ghee should be consumed in moderation.
A teaspoon to 2 at the maximum per day. Better to consume 1/2 with each meal, about a total of 1.5 tsp per day.
Some Ayurvedic Home Remedies With Ghee
- Facial Spots/Marks
Rub ghee on the face at bedtime and keep it on to remove black spots and injury marks.
- Cracked Lips
To heal cracked lips mix a little salt in ghee and apply on the lips and navel.
- To Improve Vision
Mix 1 tsp candy sugar (mishri), in 1 tsp cow's ghee and consume. Consuming ghee regularly is also beneficial.
- Piles (Bleeding)
Mix 1 tsp ghee, 1 tsp til (sesame seeds) and 1 tsp candy sugar. Eat 3 times daily. It stops bleeding.
Massage the soles of the feet with ghee every night at bedtime for some days.
Put 1 drop of ghee in each nostril in the morning and evening and take it in. Smelling ghee in morning and evening helps.
Also, if headache is due to heat, massage head with cold ghee and if due to gas massage head with hot ghee.
- Stomatitis/Mouth Ulcers
Apply ghee on the ulcers at bedtime.
- Improving Memory
Massage the head with cow's ghee.
- Burning Sensation On Hands & Feet
Massage with Ghee
Drink a little hot ghee for relief.
- To Increase Weight
Add a little sugar to ghee and eat.
Put 5 drops of ghee in each nostril and take it in. Do once a week.
- To Neutralize Poison
Whether consumed, bitten by snake or due to plague...
Consume 125 grams of ghee with milk 4 times or just ghee to remove the poison.
Apply ghee on the burnt area for relief.
Mix ghee and salt and apply. It keeps skin soft and prevents chapping in winter.
Apply mixture of ghee and rock salt. Massage. Then lie down and cover yourself with a blanket. The perspiration will relieve the urticaria.
- Cough/Sore Throat
Take 1 tsp ghee. 1 tsp mishri (candy sugar) and 15 black peppercorns. Mix and lick this mixture 2 times a day. But do not drink water for a few hours after this.
- Chronic Cough
Heat ghee and gur (jaggery) tlll it melts. Then eat this when cool enough.
Massage mixture of ghee & rock salt on the chest. It cures.
- Alcohol Intoxication To Remove
Add 2 tsp sugar to 2 tsp ghee and drink.
- Pain Around Bladder
Take 1 tsp ghee before breakfast in the morning to relieve pain.
- Allergic Rhinitis
If you are allergic to dust etc apply some ghee inside the nostrils before venturing out of the house or during seasonal changes.
Cow's Ghee Versus Buffalo Ghee - Comparision
Calms Vayu (Air) & Pitta (Fire) Doshas (elements)
Increase Kapha (Phlegm)
Milk thin therefore is absorbed by the fine brain tissue making the intellect sharp. Good for both body & brain, makes mind intelligent
Thick milk just good for the body, dulls the brain
Cleanses the body of toxins and prevents deposition of cholesterol and fat
Raises cholesterol and fat
Increases energy & vigor
Heavy and difficult to digest
Recomended for sick people, elderly persons and women who have just delivered as it raises immunity, cures diseases like diabetes, asthma, respiratory & fertility issues, vision problems, tiredness, senility etc
Provides no such benefits
Cointains Keratin which has anti cancer properties.
Does not contain keratin
Destroys passion and base instincts
No such benefits
Develops Sattva guna (body purifying/good properties)
Raises Tamasic guna (dulling properties)
The cow is a cleaner, more intelligent and gentle animal and these properties are reflected in her milk/ghee
Buffalo passes no such properties as it is considered a dud/duffer animal
Cow's milk/ghee therfore is more expensive
Buffalo milk is cheaper
How Is Ghee Made?
Pure ghee can be made in 2 ways -
- By churning milk to get the cream which is skimmed off or as is done at home by heating milk and then leaving it to cool. Then removing it and collecting it.
This cream is then churned to get butter that is the source of ghee.
- By making dahi/yogurt from raw milk. Then churning this yogurt to get butter and then ghee from the butter.
Essentially, it is butter that is the source of ghee.
Below are 2 of my videos "How To Make Butter From Milk Cream".
The first in in English while the second is in Hindi.
My Video - In English
How To Clarify Butter?
The butter obtained from milk by any method is melted whereby its different components like milk solids, water and butter fat separate out by density.
The water is evaporated, the floating solids are skimmed off while the other solids sink to the bottom.
The liquid butter fat is then filtered out and is called clarified butter.
My Video - In Hindi
How To Test The Purity Of Ghee?
- Melt ghee and add some drops of nitric acid to it. If the color of ghee changes it is adulterated.
- An Indian method is to rub a little ghee on an earthen pot If after some time a white layer is visible at this spot the ghee is adulterated.
Desi Ghee - Precautions
Desi ghee must be avoided by those who
- Have high cholesterol
- Are overweight
- Suffer from excessive Kapha
- Have high amount of Ama(toxins) in the body
- Have fever or in conditions of high Pitta & Ama together
- Pregnant women who are suffering from cold & indigestion
If there is heaviness after ghee intake, drink a glass of fat free buttermilk.
The information provided in this hub is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult your physician, or health care provider before taking any home remedies or supplements.
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© 2015 Rajan Singh Jolly