Cow ghee is a semi-liquid form of butter without water content, lactose, and other milk solids. It is prepared by gently heating butter until it becomes a clear golden liquid. It is light & pure, and does not become rancid for a long time. Cow ghee is sweet in taste, cold in nature, and has a sweet after-taste. (Source: American Journal of Drug Delivery & Therapeutics).
Cow ghee is effective in crossing the Blood Brain Barrier, due to which it is helpful in treating mental disorders. The regular consumption of cow ghee is known to enhance functions of the brain, such as memory, wisdom, and intellect. In addition, ghee promotes longevity and reproductive fluid, due to which its regular consumption is highly beneficial for children as well as the elderly. The regular intake of desi cow ghee increases appetite and provides relief from abdominal discomfort and constipation. It also significantly reduces the redness and burning sensation in the eyes.
In addition to cooking, desi cow ghee is often used as a nourishing oil for massage post bath.
“Ghee” word has originated from the Sanskrit word ‘Ghrita,’ which means clarified butter. Ghee can be defined as almost anhydrous milk fat. Chemically, it is a complex lipid of glycerides (usually mixed), free fatty acids, phospholipids, sterols, fat-soluble vitamins, sterol esters, carbonyls, hydrocarbons, carotenoids (only in ghee derived from cow milk), small amounts of charred casein & traces of calcium, iron, phosphorus, etc. It contains less than 3% moisture. Desi cow ghee is a good source of fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E & K and essential fatty acids.
Uses in Nutrition
1. Saturated Fats:
Cow ghee contains saturated fats and therefore, it has a higher heating point as compared to vegetable oils that contain polyunsaturated fats. Hence, the saturated bonds in cow ghee do not break down into radicals during heating.
2. Helps in Digestion:
Cow ghee helps in improving digestion by stimulating the secretion of stomach acid.
It is also rich in butyric acid that helps lower inflammation, which aids in the efficient digestion of food.
3. Rich in Anti-Oxidants:
Cow ghee is mostly sourced from grass-fed cows, therefore, it has a good presence of K2, butyric acid and Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA). CLA is a natural fatty acid that has anti-cancer and anti-oxidant properties that help in digestion, strengthens the immune system, as well as helps in weight loss.
4. Balances VATA, PITTA & KAPHA in the Body:
According to the Ayurveda, cow ghee is one of those rare substances that help balance Vata & Pitta in the body, which helps slow down aging. In addition, it increases Kapha.
5. Heals and Nourishes the Body:
Cow ghee is also known for its healing properties, especially for skin burns and sun burns. Our elders have always recommended the usage of cow ghee on hair as it provides relief from dryness and flaky scalp.
As winter approaches, it is advisable to stock up on cow gee for skin care. It is the best skin moisturizer, and it also heals cracked lips & heels.
6. Relieves Constipation:
It has been observed that most pregnant women encounter problems with digestion and constipation. Apart from a high-fibre intake, they are advised to consume a teaspoon-full of cow ghee with warm milk every night to help effective digestion and keep constipation at bay. This goes for not only pregnant women, but also for the rest of us.
7. Boosts Energy:
With about 450KJ of energy per tablespoon, the nutritional content of cow ghee is high, which makes it a storehouse of energy. The fatty acids present in cow ghee are directly absorbed into the liver and burnt as energy.
Cow ghee does not contain milk solids as it is a clarified butter. It is also very low in lactose and casein content. Hence, it can be safely consumed by those suffering from lactose intolerance.
For health-conscious people, the nutritional value of cow ghee is unbeatable, as it is a healthier alternative to butter and oils. Cow ghee has healthy fat and should definitely be added to your daily diet, but in limited quantities.
Uses in Skin & Hair Care
Ghee is an excellent skin & hair moisturizer. When massaged into the skin, it provides deep hydration and creates a protective layer against environmental damage, such as pollution, sunburns, tanning, etc. It is highly effective in the treatment of chapped lips, cracked heals, and other skin ailments related to dryness & dehydration. In addition, ghee is an excellent source of Vitamins E, a popular ingredient in most skin care products. What’s more, cow ghee is also a natural SPF, a highly essential ingredient in sunscreen products.
In certain North Indian states that experience extreme cold during winters, ghee is massaged into the hair and scalp. It is known to relief dryness of the scalp, split ends, dryness, and itchiness. It acts as a wonderful hair conditioner too.
Gir Cow Ghee
Gir cow ghee, which is also known as desi cow ghee, also has several health benefits, some of which are discussed below:
The ghee that is obtained from the milk of crossbreed cows is different from the one obtained from the milk of desi cows. Desi cow ghee is beneficial for our health in numerous ways, as it is obtained from “Gir” cows. These cows are found mostly in the forest regions, such as those in various districts of Gujarat. Gir cows are known to produce a larger quantity of milk as compared to other breeds of cows.
This milk cattle breed hails from the Gir Hills and forests of Kathiawar in India, which include the Junagadh, Bhavnagar, Rajkot and Amreli districts of Gujarat. These cattle are famous for their tolerance to stressful conditions and resistance to various tropical diseases.
The 13 most amazing health benefits of Gir cow ghee have been listed below:
1. This type of ghee helps at slowing down the aging process, thus making
your voice soft and clear.
2. This ghee is rich in vitamin A2, E, & D, and Omega 3, which are highly important and beneficial for a healthy lifestyle.
3. The presence of the A2 vitamin in Gir cow ghee is beneficial in the treatment of broken bones/fractures. It is also massaged into the joints to provide relief from joint pain.
4. Gir cow ghee is beneficial in treating insomnia.
5. Gir cow ghee effectively decreases bad cholesterol in the body and facilitates excellent circulation.
6. This ghee incorporates healthy fat-soluble vitamins that facilitate the absorption of nutrients in food that are most vital for health.
7. Gir cow ghee is also helps cure stomach ulcers & constipation, and promotes healthy eyes & happy skin.
8. It is used to treat and cure burns and blisters.
9. The regular consumption of Gir cow ghee has been proven to increase memory. In addition, it balances the mind and enhances brain function.
10. It contains Conjugated Linolenic Acid (CLA), which has proven to be helpful for weight loss, especially for the reduction of belly fat.
11. Gir cow ghee is also beneficial for slowing down the progress of cancer in the body and it prevents heart diseases.
12. Gir cow ghee melts at 37 degree Celsius, whereas our body temperature is 37.2 degree Celsius. This indicates that it gets easily absorbed by the body. On the contrary, commercial ghee melts at approximately 39 degree Celsius or above. Hence, excessive consumption of the latter is likely to aggravate conditions such as blood pressure, diabetes, cholesterol, and other diseases.
10. Gir cow ghee has been given the title of “Rasayana” in Ayurveda preeminent herbs and food that works wonders for the overall health and promotes longevity & well-being.
11. This ghee is highly beneficial and recommended for people suffering from piles, fishers, and fistula.
12. This ghee enhances our immunity.
13. It is also beneficial for healthy growth in children.
Due to the above-mentioned benefits, desi cow ghee has been used for centuries to improve physical and mental health, as well as for the treatment/control of various diseases. There are many types of Ayurvedic medicated versions of desi ghee, which contain extracts of different herbs.
Moreover, the addition of desi cow ghee makes herbal/Ayurvedic medicines more potent and improves their ability to get absorbed into the body. It enables these medicines to get absorbed into the deepest of tissues to lubricate them. Medicated ghee is also a tonic for our nervous and brain systems.
Uses in Traditional Medicine
According to the Ayurveda, Purna Ghrita, or old ghee (ghee which is stored for 5-10 years), is useful for the treatment of several disorders such as epilepsy, intoxication, fainting, malaria, diseases of the head, eyes, ear, and certain diseases related to the female reproductive system. It is antibacterial and antimicrobial in nature. It can also effectively treat cough, pneumonia, and excessive phlegm as it is an effective expectorant. Topically it is used on boils, carbuncles, and injury.
Thus, we can see that desi cow ghee is one of those food items that has a strong relevance in our lives. Not only is it a part of our traditional cuisine, but it is also strongly recommended by the Ayurveda due to its various medicinal properties. It has been deemed a superfood.
Medicinal Uses of Cow Ghee
According to Ayurveda, the regular consumption of desi ghee in reasonable quantities (as per what is prescribed taking into consideration a person’s health parameters, illnesses, etc.) is beneficial for general mental and physical health. The Ayurveda describes cow ghee to be Buddhivardhaka (augmenting intelligence), Smriti Vardhak (enhancing
memory), and Deepana (improves appetite). It is useful in the treatment of Apasmara (epilepsy), Unmada (inability to control feelings), and Murcha (fainting).
In addition, according to Ayurveda, cow ghee has the ability to treat any ailment related to the nervous system. It cures diseases that occur due to an increase of Vata and Pitta. It provides relief from burning sensation due to its cooling effect.
Below is a list of common ailments and how they are cured with the help of cow ghee:
In migraine, desi cow ghee can be used for performing Nasya Treatment, which involves putting a few drops of pure cow ghee into each nostril before meal twice a day for one week. It is also recommended for patients to consume 10 grams of cow ghee mixed with misri (rock sugar) once a day, preferably every morning, for three consecutive days.
2. Excessive Coughing in Children
Massaging a little warm cow ghee on the chest is helps provide relief from cough. In case a child is suffering from severe cold due to the change of season, two teaspoons of desi cow ghee is heated with few cloves of garlic till the ghee melts and garlic cloves turn slightly brown in colour. Once this mixture cools, it is used to massaged on the child’s chest.
3. Nose Bleeding
Alum (aluminum potassium sulfate), also known as phitkari, is pulverized and added to pure desi cow ghee. Drops of this mixture are inserted into the nostrils to cure nasal bleeding
4. Alcohol Intoxication
24 grams of cow ghee mixed with an equal quantity of misri (rock sugar) provides relief from alcohol intoxication.
5. Burn Injuries
Cow ghee is commonly applied to provide relief from burns and wounds. In addition, the Ayurveda recommends the application of cow ghee for the treatment of painful ulcers, insect bite wounds, leprosy, herpes, wounds caused by heat or fire, as well as deep wounds.
The consumption of one tablespoon of cow ghee provides relief from hiccups.
Preparation Methods in Households
Typically, ghee is prepared by cooking unsalted white butter, which is churned from cream, on a low flame. After adequate simmering, that is, till the time the water component is completely evaporated, it is left to cool. During this process, a thick residue gathers at the bottom of the vessel, and clear liquid fat remains on the top. This liquid is carefully strained to separate it from the residue into a clean jar/vessel with a tight cover/lid for safe storage. The colour, taste, and texture of ghee depends upon the quality of the butter & the milk, as well as the duration of time spent in boiling.
Desi cow ghee can be kept covered on the kitchen shelf. It does not need
refrigeration. Care needs to be taken to ensure that water doesn’t enter the container. The spoon dipped into this container should be completely dry. The entry of even a single droplet of water into this container is likely to create conditions for bacteria to grow, which will spoil the ghee.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on Ghee answered by celebrity nutritionist Rujuta Diwekar:
I have triglycerides/fatty liver/BP issues. Can I have ghee?
Yes, totally. Ghee regulates cholesterol by increasing the contribution of lipids towards metabolism. Cut back on packaged products like biscuits and avoid alcohol, not ghee. Ghee is safe.
I am overweight/ have diabetes/PCOD. Can I have Ghee?
Yes, essential fatty acids like the one found in ghee help accelerate fat loss and even help regulate blood sugars (reduce risk of obesity related diseases).
We cook in Ghee, do we need to add extra tsp on top of that?
That choice would be yours. Ensure that you are getting around 3-6 tsp of ghee per day/ per person. The key is that ghee should enhance the flavour of food and not mask it.
We cook in oil, can we add ghee on top before eating?
Yes, you should add ghee.
Is the store bought ghee ok if we can’t make at home?
Yes, but then check that it is from desi cow milk. Patronise ghee from small gaushalas and small women cooperatives over large corporations.
If desi cow ghee not available, can we make from buffalo milk?
Yes, you can. This is better than buying ghee from big brands.
Options for those outside India?
Cultured white organic butter or the clarified butter that is sold in health food stores. Look for free grazing, grass fed cow milk products.
Do I need to add ghee on top of non-veg food also? Doesn’t it already has fat?
Yes, you should. The unique fatty acid structure of ghee is very helpful for the body.
How do we know how much ghee to be added in each meal?
It depends on what you are eating and this info is part of our collective food wisdom. Foods like dal-rice, khichdi, roti-sabzi will require lesser ghee compared to puran poli, dal baati, bajra roti, etc. Ask your grandmother if you have any confusion.