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© 2004 - Hansadutta das
[Posted March 17, 2006]

Benefits of Ghee

(Published under the title "Ghee" at Indiaoz)

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Health

Looking for a cooking oil that’s healthy, yet doesn’t mean you have to compromise on taste? Consider Ghee -- the ayurvedic cooking medium that’s been around for thousands of years. It has a rich, buttery taste and aroma, and comes with a host of benefits that are listed in the traditional ayurvedic texts.

WHAT IS GHEE?
Ghee is clarified butter -- the butter oil, without the lactose and other milk solids. The word ghee is pronounced with a hard G as in GO and a long E as in GLEE. It is traditionally prepared by gently heating butter until it becomes a clear golden liquid. The lactose and other milk solids coagulate and are meticulously removed. This process also evaporates most of the natural water content, making ghee light, pure and resistant to spoilage.

BENEFITS RECOGNIZED IN THE AYURVEDIC TEXTS
Ayurveda considers ghee the ultimate cooking oil, with diverse mind/body benefits listed in the ancient texts.

* Absorption: Ghee is an integral part of the science of ayurvedic herbal formulation. Since ghee is an oil, it can bond with lipid-soluble nutrients and herbs to penetrate the lipid-based cell walls of the body. It is stated to increase the potency of certain herbs by carrying the active components to the interior of the cells where they impart the most benefit.
* Preservative: Ghee does not spoil easily, and actually preserves the original freshness and potency of herbs and foods. It does not need refrigeration.
* Digestion: The ayurvedic texts say that Ghee helps balance excess stomach acid, and helps maintain/repair the mucus lining of the stomach.
* Mild Burns: Like aloe, Ghee is said to prevent blisters and scarring if applied quickly to affected skin.
* Mind: Ghee is said to promote all three aspects of mental functioning -- learning, memory and recall.
* Ayurvedic Balance: Ghee balances both Vata (the ayurvedic mind/body operator that controls movement in mind and body) and Pitta (the operator that controls heat and metabolism).

Ghee has been given the cherished title of “rasayana” in ayurveda -- pre-eminent herbs and foods that help overall health, longevity and well-being.

THE RIGHT KIND OF FAT
It is generally recognized that some fat is essential for health. A totally fat-free diet can actually accelerate aging of the skin, nerves and brain cells. Without an adequate quantity of the right kind of fat in the diet, cell regeneration can be adversely impacted. Fats are needed for efficient absorption of crucial lipid-soluble vitamins such as A, E, D and K. The stomach lining, which protects the stomach from the acids it secretes to help break down foods, needs fat to maintain a healthy coating. Similarly, cholesterol in the body serves functions that are crucial to health, such as building cell membranes, and hormone and bile balance. It is when cholesterol is damaged by harmful free radicals that it leads to clogged arteries and heart problems. Ghee imparts the benefits of the best essential fatty acids without the problems of oxidized cholesterol, transfatty acids or hydrogenated fats. It is also resistant to free radical damage and is both salt and lactose free.

VERSATILE COOKING MEDIUM
Ghee has an excellent aroma and is so flavorful that you can use half or two-thirds as much as other cooking oils. It has a very high burning point and doesn’t burn or smoke during cooking. It combines excellently with a wide variety of spices. You can use ghee to sauté foods, in baking, to deep-fry, or even as a spread.



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