Tag: coconut oil

Ghee and its Health Benefits

Ghee and its Health Benefits

gheeEvery cuisine is unique in its way. Each cuisine has its distinct type of fat used in cooking. The Mediterraneans use olive oil, the Chinese use lard and the Indians use ghee and coconut oil. Ghee is used liberally in most of the indian dishes. Ghee is nothing but clarified butter. With the recent conflicting issues in nutrition, ghee was considered as a bad food and the main cause for heart disease and suddenly its consumption was reduced. But has it reduced the incidence of heart disease? No, in fact heart disease is rising at an alarming rate. So moving on to dry rotis has not helped.

I remember the time when my grandmother used to make clarified butter at home. The whole house used to have the fragrance emanating around. It is commonly used in making sweets and lathered on wheat rotis.

Nutritional benefits of Ghee

  • Ghee is said to be made of saturated fatty acids but of short chain fatty acids. This makes them easy to digest unlike the saturated fats found in animal meats which are difficult to digest.
  • It contains fat soluble vitamins such as A, D and E and hence can benefit vegetarians.
  • Ghee is said to be great for the lactose intolerant as the lactose sugar is broken down on clarification. Hence they can benefit the vitamins from it sans lactose.
  • Due to its fat content, it also absorbs the vitamins from the food it is added to, hence making the vitamins available to the body.
  • Its smoke point is high, hence can be used for cooking, But I still discourage using it for deep frying.
  • For infants and toddlers where they are in the phase of brain growth, ghee is the best fat to be added in their diet and is said to develop memory.

It is delicious to taste, does not go bad or get oxidized on exposure to air and can be made at home unlike other fats. It can be used as a chapstick too and can put Oriflame and other companies to shame.

It is recommended to have 4 teaspoons of fat per day, hence add a teaspoon of ghee in the cooking. Remember regular exercise and the right fats give better health and a stronger heart. Now say yes to desi ghee…..

Coconut oil….To use or not to….

Coconut oil….To use or not to….

coconut_oilCoconut oil and its usage has always been in the news. Every person is advised not to look at coconut oil. But I feel this is baseless.

Coconut oil is just like any other oil. It gives the same calories ie 9 calories as any other oil. The only hiccup is that it provides saturated fats. It does not contain cholesterol at all as we know no plant source can provide cholesterol to us. Excess intake of saturated fats can increase the cholesterol levels. In fact excess intake of any oil can increase the cholesterol levels.

  • It contains lauric acid which is known for its anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties.
  • The lauric acid also helps to prevent heart problems and does not increase the LDL levels which contributes to heart disease.
  • It contains medium chain triglycerides which do not contribute to heart disease and can be very useful for recovery from various diseases and in many gastrointestinal diseases as it is turned into a energy source and the absorption is much better and hence helps people who have digestive problems.

My great grandmother used to pour coconut oil over her idlis and dosas and she died of old age at 95 years without any complaints. But that was the only saturated fat in her diet. She had a lot of fiber in the form of vegetables and was a pure vegetarian. Coconut oil was the only source of fat in her diet and did not eat any junk in the form of home made chips etc. She continued to do house hold work such as cleaning and dusting of furniture and washed her clothes(not in the washing machine).

We can take a cue from this. If a teaspoon of coconut oil is added to a vegetable of quantity half kilo, it is not going to harm us. So coconut oil is safe from tempering our pulse and vegetable preparations.

But it is arguable to see that the cardiovascular disease are on the increase in the southern states in India. I can tell you why. In these areas, 90% of the people use coconut oil for cooking. Take a look at the cooking practices. Deep frying is done with coconut oil so the fat in it gets hydrogenated and voila! you are eating hydrogenated fats. Excessive snacking on fried food will definitely increase your LDL cholesterol.

Non vegetarian dishes are cooked with grated coconut and coconut oil. If the skin of the meat is not removed or if the fat is not trimmed, then the saturated content increases three fold. You are getting the saturated fats from coconut plus the fats from meats especially red meats like pork and mutton. Pork lard clubbed with other fats is very hazardous. The poor culprit has been coconut oil but not the red meat.

Hence the incidence of cholesterol problems is on the rise. Hence try to avoid the excess combination of saturated fats.

Keep the intake of any oil at minimum. The allowance is 4 tsps per day. It is safe to combine coconut oil and other oils in your diet. If you use coconut oil for tempering and other oil for cooking, it is quite safe as long as you are not deep frying and are within the allowance of oil intake. Do not add excess of coconut in gravies. You can search for other alternatives like yogurt for thickening.

Those who hype about coconut oils are those who do not use it in their cooking. The northern parts of India are more of meat eaters and their share of saturated fats come from butter, ghee and full fat milk products and for the south indians, our share comes from coconut oil.