Ghee’s role in the Ayurvedic Diet

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Introduction

Beyond being ideal for the yogi (see previous article in this series), ghee is considered nectar-like for all wishing to live according to Ayurvedic principals and maintain positive health. The final article in this series will look at contemporary scientific evidence in support of ghee in promoting health and healing. In this age of ‘fatism’, Ayurveda’s views on the wondrous benefits of ghee may appear contradictory. We must assess ghee through the Ayurvedic lens to provide rationale for it being recommended for all from cradle to grave. For example, just after birth the new baby is given both honey and ghee impregnated with mantras prescribed for this purpose in the Vedas (Ch Sa: 8/46). Charaka, an Ayurvedic master physician in ancient India, summarises:

“Cow ghee promotes memory, intellect, power of digestion, semen, ojas, kapha and fat. It alleviates vata, pitta, toxic conditions, insanity, consumption and fever. It is the best of all the unctuous substances” (Ch Su: 27/232). read more

What is Good About Ghee: Science Shows Benefits of Our Ancient Wisdom

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In my last article, I explained why many of us felt ghee was bad and why we were probably wrong. For decades we were told to avoid foods full of saturated fats including ghee because they would cause heart attacks. But the evidence from several studies says otherwise.

As a 2010 American Journal of Clinical Nutrition meta-analysis that look at many studies and was done by researchers at Harvard concludes, the evidence linking saturated fats to a higher risk of heart attacks is not convincing. What I concluded from the science available today is that ghee is not bad per se. Let me now explain why ghee is good.

In general, a natural food that offers nutrition – in contrast to processed food fortified with vitamins but with plenty of added sugars and fats – is good. I believe that natural foods are optimal for good health because our bodies evolved over thousands of years to extract nutrition out of natural foods. In other words, our bodies developed hormones, carriers, bacterial flora and other things to get the most out of food found in nature. Most of these natural foods, such as vegetables, fruits and nuts, are grown from the earth. But some natural foods are cultivated by people. read more

Why We Were Wrong About Ghee

Growing up, I thought that ghee was dangerous. Uncles and aunties would say, “We’re cutting back on ghee,” or, “We don’t use that stuff anymore, it’s so bad for you.” I wondered why ghee got such a bad rap, and soon I learned everyone’s doctors had been urging them to drop ghee because something called saturated fats – which ghee has in abundance – causes heart attacks.

‘Desis,’ it turned out, were susceptible to heart attacks. Someone from our community had a heart attack almost every month, or so it seemed then, and sometimes an uncle we knew would die from it. So finding what caused heart attacks was a really big deal. Now fast forward to today, and here’s a new thought. What if we were wrong about ghee? What if eating ghee, or using ghee to cook food, never caused heart attacks?

Research in the past decade strongly suggests that ghee was not the problem. If we were wrong about ghee, we were not alone. At the same time Indian-Americans were dropping ghee, Americans were dropping butter (from which ghee is made) for margarine, a processed oil-and-milk product. The replacement of butter, which had been eaten traditionally throughout America’s history, was part of the bigger phenomenon of Americans adopting a low-fat diet. read more