Speaking of an Ayurvedic lifestyle the first thing that comes to mind is Ghee, popularly known as “clarified butter”. The humble ghee has been a staple of both Indian cuisine and Ayurvedic medicine since ancient times. Today, professional health food chefs have discovered its rich, nutty flavour along with its many health benefits!
Though Ghee is sometimes referred to as clarified butter, it actually goes a step beyond. Clarified butter is made by heating unsalted butter until the milk solids and water rise to the top, where they are skimmed off. But in case of Ghee, we cook the butter longer till the milk solids brown and we then strain out all the milk solids and water (which kids love to devour with sugar!), leaving pure fat behind.
In traditional homes it is flavoured by adding Curry, Tulsi or Betel leaves after the ghee is ready. Whether it’s plain or flavoured with herbs, ghee can be used in nearly every preparation. Since it has a high burning point, it is extremely healthy to use in stir-frying and sautéing instead of oils. In addition to its tasty flavour and versatility, here are some of the surprising benefits you can enjoy from cooking with ghee.
Why Ghee? Because….
- Ghee is all-natural. Ghee is free of potentially unhealthy additives, preservatives and trans-fats. Thanks to its pure form and low moisture content, ghee is shelf-stable and can stay fresh for up to a year without refrigeration. In fact, in India, some have aged ghee that has lasted more than 100 years. I am not sure how good it bad that is, though.
- Ghee is a rich source of antioxidants. Antioxidants act as “scavengers” in the body, seeking out and neutralizing free radicals to prevent cell and tissue damage that can lead to disease. Ghee contains vitamin E, one of the most powerful antioxidants found in food.
- Ghee helps moisturize dry skin and hair. Ghee isn’t used just for cooking. It has long been used by Indian women as a topical moisturizer to relieve dry complexions. Ayurdeva’s Shatha Dhautha Ghrita is one such application rich in Vitamin E and A which helps to keep skin moisturised and naturally younger looking. Its also great for the scalp and helps fight dandruff & dryness and reduces hairfall and encourages the growth of thick, lustrous hair. Nothing holds the curls better than a dash of AyurDeva’s Shatha Dhautha Ghritha.
- Ghee has anti-inflammatory properties. Ayurvedic medicine has regularly used ghee to treat burns and swelling. Ghee is strengthening and removes toxins from our system. It contains large quantities of butyrate, a fatty acid in combination with vitamins A, D, E, and K which aids in boosting immunity, promote gut health, keep your hair and skin healthy, lubricate joints and strengthen bones. The substance also has anti-viral properties and a little everyday can keep dreadful viruses away.
- Ghee contains heart-healthy fats. While ghee has a high concentration of fat, it’s high in monounsaturated Omega-3s. These are the same fatty acids found in foods like salmon that have been discovered to promote a healthy heart and cardiovascular system.
- Ghee is a viable alternative for individuals with dairy allergies. Since ghee is formed by removing milk solids, it contains only trace amounts of milk sugars (lactose) and proteins (casein), making it suitable for most people with dairy allergies. Ghee also fits into the popular Paleo diet, which is based on the types of foods eaten by early humans and excludes dairy products.
- Ghee aids digestion. Ghee is believed to assist with digestion by allowing food to be broken down more efficiently, by stimulating digestive enzymes.
- Ghee is a nutritional powerhouse. Ghee contains plentiful amounts of fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. These nutrients are essential to a wide range of body functions from the brain to the immune system. In addition, ghee aids in the body’s absorption of fat-soluble vitamins and minerals from other foods.
How to eat Ghee….
Just one teaspoonful each day can help boost your immune system, keep your mind alert, digestive system clean, eyes clear, skin younger looking and hair healthy! Here are some ways you can incorporate ghee in your daily practices.
- A couple of drops of warm cow’s ghee in each nostril as part of Nasya, improves immune system of upper respiratory tract and prevents allergies of dust, smoke and aerosols. It can also protect from recurrent infections of throat, nose and chest.
- Consuming 1-2 teaspoon of homemade cow’s ghee every morning on empty stomach will help to prevent thickening of arteries and improve blood circulation as well as reduce accumulation of free radicals in body cells.
- A little ghee on top of rotis & rice helps to improve the digestion process, absorption of nutrients from food, lubricate large intestines and prevent constipation.
- Melted ghee instead of butter to top popcorn or sautéed veggies.
- Blend into a healthy smoothie.
- Use in your favourite casserole or rice dish instead of Oil.
- Mix with herbs and seasonings and use as a rub for chicken..
- Drizzle over fish or seafood, such as scallops.
- Spread on sourdough bread or naan.
- Mix into hot maple syrup and serve over your favourite French Toast or pancake.
So, with so many benefits and so many easy ways to incorporate it, make a teaspoonful of ghee the new apple a day!