Here’s Why Ghee Should Be A Part Of Your Kitchen & Diet
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One of my earliest memories in life is from the time I was growing up in Punjab. I remember my mother and I soaking in the sun in a neighbourhood aunty’s garden during winter while she applied ghee on fresh rotis. Towards the end of this daily ritual, she just took some ghee and rubbed it gently on my face saying it’ll help my skin glow even when I’m older. As I learned to eat with my own hands, my Bengali thakuma taught me how to mix ghee with hot rice and a sprinkling of salt, just so I could enjoy the Begun Bhaja (fried eggplant) and Aloo Sheddho (boiled mashed potatoes) she’d prepared for lunch. My mother applied ghee generously every time she made Aloo Paranthas. And I, having grown up with so much love for ghee all around, shifted to Delhi in my 20s with a big bottle of every Bengali’s favourite, Jharna Ghee.

But then, around the time I was 22-23, something changed all around. Suddenly, everyone was saying eating ghee will make us gain weight. That ghee leads to high cholesterol and heart disease, worsens diabetes, and even causes acne! Ghee, my favourite companion through the simplest of meals, was suddenly Public Enemy Number One!

Why Avoid Ghee?

The reason behind this change was simple. Western medicine and scientific research into fats we consume every day has suggested for decades that consuming oils and ghee can lead to major health issues, including obesity and heart disease. The US Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) had, in fact, repeatedly recommended since the 1970s that avoiding fat in your diet is the best thing you can do for your health. Doctors and health experts in India also picked up on this, since scientific evidence does dictate how our health issues are treated. Thus, the widespread idea that having ghee like our ancestors suggested is a bad idea for your health, even if your taste buds crave it.

But did you know that in 2015, the USFDA actually admitted that avoiding fat consumption does not necessarily benefit your health? The scientific world has now discovered that consuming dietary cholesterol does not lead to high blood cholesterol and heart disease! Apart from ghee, which has been deemed a culprit for so long, egg yolks too were freed from prejudice when this was revealed by the scientific community. It’s now time that we undo the harm done by decades of ghee-shunning to our minds, souls and taste buds for the sake of our heart health. It’s time to welcome ghee back to our kitchens and our diet.

Why Include Ghee?

“Food knowledge flows like an unbroken stream from generation to generation till it’s broken down by someone who is unrelated to us telling us what to eat and how to look,” says Rujuta Diwekar in her pathbreaking 2016 book, Indian Super Foods: Change The Way You Eat. This work and many others by health and food industry experts since 2015 have helped to dispel incorrect notions we might have about Indian traditional foods like ghee. Diwekar explains, using examples from ancient texts, that ghee has been considered one of the five nectars of life according to Ayurveda and Hinduism—so, how can consuming it be anything but beneficial?

Here are some of the reasons why you should include ghee in your kitchen pantry and diet.

Long Shelf Life: Ghee is a high-functioning fat. Known as clarified butter, ghee doesn’t have any milk solids, which is why it can be easily stored at room temperature for long periods of time.

No Lactose: Ghee is completely devoid of lactose, galactose and casein, which is why it can easily be used by those with lactose intolerance.

Perfect For Frying: Ghee has a high smoking point, which is why it stays stable at very high temperatures. This makes it the perfect fat to fry your puris and fritters in.

Reduces Gut Inflammation: Ghee is packed with short-chain fatty acids like butyric acid, which not only aid digestion but also improve gut health by reducing inflammation.

Increases Vitamin Levels: Ghee is a great source of fat-soluble Vitamin A, which we need to maintain eye, skin and immune health.

Helps Battle Diabetes: The addition of a spoonful of ghee to your food can help reduce its glycemic index. Foods low in glycemic index can not only help patients with diabetes, but also anybody else who has them.

Supports Heart Health: Ghee is also packed with omega-3 fatty acids, which can not only help the body battle inflammation and infections, but also improve heart health.

Benefits The Skin: Ghee has forever been used as a natural moisturizer in India for good reason. Its fatty acids can help the skin remain clear, soft, supple and glowing.

Tastes Great & Warm: Ghee is a complete flavour bomb and induces warmth, which is why most winter favourites like Gajar Ka Halwa, Moong Dal Halwa and even Panjiri are packed with it.