Ghee plays a special role in Ayurvedic medicine. It is both medicine and food and is one of the most important fats in Indian and Pakistani cuisine. In Ayurveda, Ghee is given an important meaning as an "elixir of life". We explain what effect on health is attributed to fat, whether ghee is healthier than butter and how you make ghee yourself.
What is Ghee?
Ghee is, in simplified terms, the Indian form of clarified butter or butterfat. For its production, butter is heated and its foam is skimmed off - leaving behind the pure fat. Usually cow's milk butter is used, but milk from goats, sheep, camels or elephants is also a possible basis.
Ghee has a yellowish-white color. The taste depends on the type of production. In the traditional indian desi method For example, the slightly sourish butter is melted over a fire, so the ghee assumes a light smoke flavor. In Ayurveda, on the other hand, ghee is obtained exclusively through a boiling process, for which the butter is first cut into small pieces and washed off.
Unlike butter, which contains about 80 percent fat, ghee consists almost entirely of fat. All other components of the butter, such as protein, lactose and water, are removed during the production of the ghee.
Effect of ghee on health
Although fats are generally not considered healthy foods, Ghee can certainly score with some positive health effects:
- Ghee, unlike other oils, does not form free radicals in the cells.
- The fat can lower the levels of inflammation in the body.
- Daily intake of ghee can improve cholesterol and blood lipid levels, which has a positive effect on the cardiovascular system.
- Also on alleviating the symptoms of psoriasis (psoriasis), a study provided evidence.
- In animal experiments Ghee also seemed to slow the onset of cancer.
Ghee in dry eyes
For dry eyes, an eye bath with warm ghee may help. This increases the amount of fat in the tear fluid so that it does not evaporate so quickly.
This is how you can treat a dry eye with ghee:
- Heat the ghee to exactly 33 degrees Celsius using a thermometer in a water bath.
- Put two to three tablespoons of fat in an eye bath.
- Bathe your open eyes one at a time for about 10 minutes each.
Repeat the eye bath twice a week to treat dry eyes. By the way, in Ayurveda too Ghee is valued for its anti-inflammatory effect. Therefore, in the Indian healing eye baths with the fat are also recommended for eye irritation.
Ayurveda: importance as a remedy
In Ayurveda, ghee has long been considered an important remedy. It is said to have many beneficial effects on the health, especially of the cells, nerves and skin.
According to the Indian Health Teaching, Ghee is said to:
- detoxify the body
- promote digestion and metabolism as well as help with constipation
- stimulate the appetite
- promote concentration
- Lower fever
- support wound healing and prevent scarring
- to help against anemia
- support the immune system
- Cells regenerate, rejuvenate and prolong life
In addition, Ghee should keep the three known in Ayurveda life forces Vata, Pitta and Kapha in balance and supply the body tissues nutrients.
Application of ghee in Ayurveda
In Indian medicine, ghee is used both internally and externally. Therefore, it is not only used in Ayurvedic cooking as an ingredient in cooking and baking, which should make the food more digestible. It also serves as the basis for Ayurvedic ointments and as a carrier for various remedies that helps the active ingredients enter the cells.
Warm ghee massages are also used to treat dry and irritated skin. Corresponding foot massages are said to relieve headaches and sleep disturbances and to have a calming or invigorating effect.
In Ayurvedic therapy, warm ghee is also used in the form of a three-day drinking cure that is designed to detoxify the body. This is called so-called medical ghee used in a complex procedure for 100 hours with various medicinal herbs.
Ghee: nutrients, calories
Since substances such as water, milk sugar and milk protein are removed in the production of ghee, the purified fat even contains a slightly higher concentration of the original vitamins and minerals compared to butter.
The more nutritious the butter that makes up the fat, the healthier the final product. Like butter, ghee contains vitamins A, D, E and K as well as sodium, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and iron. The contained butyric acid is considered good against intestinal problems.
Despite the healthy effect one must not forget that it is a fat in ghee, the other fats in terms of calories is approximately equivalent - with about 900 kilocalories Ghee is hardly to call a slimming. It should therefore not simply be taken in addition to normal food, but replace other fats.
Essential fatty acids in ghee
Ghee contains predominantly saturated fatty acids, which are often suspected of having a negative effect on cholesterol levels. However, the healthy effects of ghee, and in particular its cholesterol-lowering effect, contradict the common assumption that higher levels of saturated fat are detrimental. This supports the recent view that saturated fat is healthier than previously thought.
Ghee and butter in comparison
Ghee, or clarified butter, used to be very popular as a frying fat - today, the industrially produced product is less frequently used in the kitchen. It offers some advantages over butter:
- Thanks to its low content of polyunsaturated fatty acids, which can cause harmful trans fat when heated, Ghee very suitable for frying and frying - in contrast to the butter. This not only injects in the pan, but the contained protein burns quite fast.
- If ghee is kept airtight and dry, it is also very good because of its low water content durable - even if it is not stored in the refrigerator. Butter, on the other hand, always has to be refrigerated, otherwise it quickly becomes rancid.
- Since in the production of ghee the milk sugar is removed from the butter, the fat is lactose free and can also be consumed by people with lactose intolerance.
- In Ayurveda, ghee is also preferred over unchanged butter, because it is known as easier to digest applies.
Storage and durability
Ghee does not necessarily have to be stored in the refrigerator, but this prolongs its shelf life. At room temperature Ghee holds about nine, in the refrigerator about 15 months.
Ideally, you should always remove ghee with a clean spoon to avoid contamination. If the fat smells rancid, it should not be used anymore.
Tips for buying ghee
When buying ghee you should value quality - because the higher the butter from which it was made, the healthier is the ghee. Therefore, be sure to buy ghee from organically produced butter, ideally from free-range or pasture cows.
For medical purposes Ayurveda uses only medicinal ghee.
Incidentally, vegans can buy herbal ghee (Vanaspati) in the health food store - but caution should be exercised with regard to the formation of trans fatty acids. Another vegan alternative, though slightly different in taste, is coconut oil, which is highly heatable without the formation of trans fats.
Make ghee yourself
Ghee is also pretty easy to do yourself. Whether you use sweet or sour cream butter as a base makes no difference to the quality of the ghee. However, sweet cream butter has the advantage of less flocculation. In any case, it is recommended to use unsalted butter.
For the production of ghee you should allow about one hour cooking time per kilogram of butter. The gentler the ghee is made, the better the result.
Recipe: This is how you make ghee yourself
- Warm the butter in a saucepan without lid slowly at low temperature until lightly simmering. Do not stir it.
- Use a slotted spoon to scoop up the milk protein foam that forms on the surface.
- Repeat this until no more foam is formed and the mass in the pot is golden yellow and very clear.
- Pour the mass through a fine sieve, a coffee filter or a cloth.
- Put the finished ghee in a tightly closed container, preferably made of glass or clay, and allow it to cool.
Other recipes are to let the butter boil briefly after careful melting, or to skim off the foam, but to strain the entire mass through a cloth. Just try out the preparation that best suits your ghee.