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Types of Ghee - The Indian Superfood by Anirban Ganguli

Updated: Jun 28, 2023

A jar of ghee.

Ghee :: Clarified Butter

I just closed my eyes and I could literally smell the aroma of pure desi ghee poured over basmati rice. Ghee Rice is an irresistibly delicious, quick and straightforward classic Indian rice dish that is flavored with Indian clarified butter, Ghee. A super side dish that is made with a handful of ingredients and pairs well with any spicy Indian meal. Whether you prepare on a stovetop, Indian pressure cooker or Instant Pot, you'll have the perfect fluffiest cooked Ghee rice every time.

Ghee (Sanskrit: Ghṛta) as we know is a class of clarified butter that originated in ancient India. It is commonly used in the cuisine of the Indian subcontinent, Middle Eastern cuisine, Southeast Asian cuisine, traditional medicine, and religious rituals. It is good saturated fat for the body.

According to Ayurvedic tradition, it enhances ‘Ojas’ (Sanskrit word for vigor), an essence that governs the tissues in the body and balances hormones. Ghee contains butyrate, which promotes healthy gut bacteria.

High-quality Ghee has been known to fight inflammation, have positive effects on insulin sensitivity and intestinal permeability, maintain the gut barrier integrity, increase water absorption in the gut and hence prevent the leaky gut syndrome. It is free of lactose and casein and is packed with vitamins and minerals. Most of all it makes for great cooking, due to its high smoke point.

A1 vs A2

But do you know there are different types of ghee available viz A1 ghee, A2 ghee.....lets try to understand in detail about them and also check for other better options.....

Let me inform you that A1 ghee comes from A1 quality milk, from the Holstein cow breed (factory mutated) and contains a compound called BCM7 the leading cause of many health ailments including cancer. On the other hand, A2 ghee comes from an older cow breed that has not been mutated in the factory. The casein is better in terms of quality and absorbability. The difference between the two chemically is in 1 amino acid chain and the presence of BCM7.

But there is another much better option available in India known as ‘Gir Cow Ghee’ which has more benefits. The 'Gir cow' is a native breed of the 37 breeds that India has. Its distinguishing feature is the hump these cows have.

There are 3 important aspects that determine the quality of your ghee –

Firstly Know your cow if it's Holstein, Jersey or a genetically mutated bred cow.

Secondly what raw material is used to make the ghee i.e., is it A2 milk? Also, we need to know what the cows are fed. Is it grass or grain? Well, this makes a difference to the quality of fat in the ghee. Grass feeding produces better milk.

Thirdly we must understand the process used to make the ghee. Is it just cream being separated from raw milk to make ghee or there is something more? We need to know if churning and fermentation for probiotics is involved. Which process should be used for better quality?

In India A2 ghee and Gir cow ghee is available. Commercial manufacturing of ghee is based on fat percentage. The more fat in the milk the better the quality of ghee. But one must understand what is good quality fat. If cows are fed more grass, the yield of ghee will reduce. This is not good for marketers wanting more yield. However, the quality of fat from grass-fed cows is the best. Let's understand why grass feeding is best. A cow that is not genetically mutated in a factory is local and grass-fed. They convert the green fodder into CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) known to lower cholesterol, and high BP, reduce inflammation, cancer fighter and lowers body fat. They even convert it to ALA (alpha linoleic acid) an essential omega-3 fatty acid. A cow’s stomach ferments vitamin K1 (found in leafy greens) into K2, which then shows up in dairy fat. K2 is important for bone and heart health. Vitamin K2 is found mainly in animal foods, some fermented foods and made by your gut bacteria as well.

So choose your ghee wisely.

The views above are strictly of the author. For any dietary advice or special conditions please refer to your nutritionist or doctor

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