Many people in the United States have become fat phobic. We demand fat-free or low-fat foods to protect our hearts and reduce our waistlines. Many of us view spreading butter on bread as one step above using motor oil.
Yet in India, ghee – clarified butter – is a central part of ayurvedic medicine. What should you do?
The truth is that our bodies need fat to function. People who diet and exercise to the point where their body fat is extremely low run the risk of dangerous heart arrhythmia if they do not take in enough fat in their diet. Our bodies also need fat to assimilate the essential Vitamins A, E, D and K.
On the other hand, the unsaturated fats in butter can cause problems. Turning that heart-clogging butter into ghee removes those dangerous solids, producing a golden-clear and pure oil that ayurvedic practitioners (and a growing number of Western researchers) believe has healing properties.
The Ayurvedic medicine, widely practiced in India and growing in acceptance around the world, proposes that keeping your body in balance promotes health. Western medicine, especially in its most aggressive form here in the United States, instead focuses on fighting disease. Ayurvedic theory rests on the concept that people have one of three basic body types (doshas) – vata (air), pitta (fire) or kapha (earth and water) and each requires different strategies to achieve balance.
Ghee is considered of universal value in promoting health, no matter your body type. To make your own ghee:
- Put one to two pounds of organic butter into a saucepan and set the heat on the stove to low.
- As the butter melts, you will see white curds sink to the bottom of the pan. These are the solids that you will need to remove.
- To see if the ghee is done, put a drop of water into the pan – if it boils immediately, the ghee is done.
- Remove the curds on the bottom and store the remaining oil in a sealed container. As long as the oil stays free of water, it need not be refrigerated.
- You can use the oil in dressings, as a spread, in cooking (it doesn’t smoke as much as many other oils and you can often use less) and by the spoonful as a daily diet supplement.
Ghee is reputed to benefit connective tissue and joints, promoting flexibility. (Yoga is also recommended for flexibility) An aged version of ghee available in some specialty shops is used by ayurvedic practitioners to treat a wide variety of ailments ranging from alcoholism to epilepsy to vaginal pain. Mixed with honey, it is also used as a topical remedy.