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Ghee – Good fat or bad fat?

Since ancient times, grandmothers have stated the importance of ghee and have fed their children and their children’s children with ghee for a healthy body. It has been said that ghee is not just healthy, but it is also the magical secret ingredient that helps in enhancing the taste of each and every meal, be it, hot piping dal, khichdi, parathas pulao, or simple vegetables. A dash of ghee makes it all the more tastier.

Many people have a misconception about ghee, that is, it is unhealthy and unfit for consumption as it increases the fat molecules present in the body. However, due to the recent researches conducted on healthy foods, especially ghee, it has been found that ghee is actually beneficial. These researches have increased the awareness of ghee benefits. When considered, ghee actually has multiple health benefits as compared to other healthy food alternatives.

The first question anybody asks about ghee is, who can consume ghee. While consuming ghee, one should be careful about the quantity, as the recommended amount for everyday intake has been set at 10 – 15 grams.  However, those suffering from heart diseases and cholesterol should refrain from overconsumption, as experts always say that overconsumption of anything is bad for health.

What is ghee exactly, you’ll ask. Ghee is clarified butter that has been used in the cuisines in countries such as India and the Middle East. Traditionally, it has been made using cow’s milk, by heating it until its water content evaporates, leaving behind the fat content only. Today, it is not just cow ghee that is available in the market, but camel milk ghee is also gaining attention.

When compared to other types of clarified butter, ghee takes a longer time to make, as it has all the nutrients and vitamins because of its low-heat preparation. A great source of Vitamin E, A, antioxidants and other organic compounds, many of which can be destroyed if it is boiled at a higher temperature.

Ghee nutrition facts:

Did you know that one tablespoon of ghee contains around:

  • 115 calories
  • 14.9 grams of fat
  • 9.3 grams of saturated fats.
  • 0 carbohydrates
  • 38.4 milligrams of cholesterol
  • 8% recommended daily intake of Vitamin A
  • 2% recommended daily intake of Vitamin E.

Ghee Nutritional Value:

Ghee has a nutritional value which is higher than other clarified butter. Setting aside the spiritual aspect of ghee since ancient times, modern science says that consuming ghee can help in increasing the bioavailability and absorption of significant nutrients and minerals.

Basically, ghee is a type of fat. Fat is a calorie-dense macronutrient, so consuming fatty foods was thought to increase weight and obesity. However, the thinking about fat has changed considerably. An expert conducted a research on saturated fats and concluded that it is neutral, that is, neither good nor bad for your heart and cholesterol levels. There has been a constant concern relating to saturated fatty acids and its negative impact on the heart, which led to the increased avoidance of ghee.

Experts have said that their findings suggest that consuming 10% of ghee in the total diet does not increase the chances of heart disease; however, individuals who have been inclined to consume ghee due to genetic or family factors, 10% may result in being harmful. Another expert has said that ghee does not include milk solids, which makes it easier for lactose intolerants to consume. With a high smoking point too, ghee becomes one of the best alternatives to cooking oils.

With no carbohydrates, as completely free of pure fat, ghee is seen as the most convenient source of nutrition for people suffering from obesity or with high cholesterol levels. Although ghee has some amount of fat in it, 9gms of fat is saturated, 5gms is healthier mono-saturated fat, and the remaining 1gm is poly-unsaturated fats. This shows that ghee is made of healthy fats, which is beneficial for maintaining the health of an individual. However, like any other source of fat, ghee must be used as a method of enhancing the taste of other foods and not consumed in bulk.

Experts say that ghee has a bulk load of vitamins and minerals, which are required by a human body on a daily basis. It contains around 8% of Vitamin A, 2% of Vitamin E, and 1% of Vitamin K of the total daily intake. They have also said that individual consuming ghee would take in more fat than is required to get enough nutrients through ghee. So it is recommended to use smaller amounts of ghee in cooking vegetables and other food along with fat-soluble nutrients for the body to better absorb the nutrients.

Ghee health benefits:

Ayurveda has said that ghee is a natural medicine for its various healing properties. It helps in improving memory, increasing flexibility, and even enhancing digestion. Various research has proven that ghee has several potential benefits. These are:

1.   It has anti-inflammatory effects:

Ayurveda has said that ghee has been used to treat burns and swelling. Ghee does not contain butyrate, a fatty acid, which has anti-inflammatory properties. Experts have stated  that butyrate can soothe inflammation within the body.

2.   Helps overcome Obesity:

An important source of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), various studies have shown that it helps battle obesity. It is helpful in overcoming the mass of the body fat among different individuals. Experts have said that ghee helps in improving the blood HDH level, which plays a positive role in keeping the heart healthy and maintaining the cholesterol levels.

3.   Antibacterial properties:

According to Ayurveda, ghee has the ability to protect the body from harmful bacteria and virus, and allow the absorption of fat-soluble nutrients. It is even helpful in nourishing the body and loosening the joints.

4.   Helps in boosting immunity:

Butyric acid, present in ghee is rich in Vitamin A, D, E and K, which helps in boosting immunity, keeps the hair healthy, improves eye health, removes harmful toxins from the body, which enhances metabolism, thus, keeping the body healthy.

Studies on Ghee as a good fat:

A recent study conducted on ghee to understand its fatty acid composition found that it is a good source of DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). This is one of the most popular Omega 3 fatty acids, which is essential for consumption in the daily diet, as a human body cannot produce it. This fatty acid can help in various issues like diabetes, ADHD, heart diseases, etc.

Ghee contains approximately 25% of medium and short-chain-fatty-acids, when compared to normal clarified butter, which contains 12-15% only. It mostly contains saturated fats out of milk-fat and has almost 0% of harmful trans-fat. A pool of dieticians have consented to the consumption of the naturally and traditionally acquired saturated fats in terms of ghee, which is beneficial for human health.

Concluding remarks:

Thus, it can be said that ghee helps in removing the harmful toxins from the body, that helps boost metabolism. When the body metabolism is fast, you tend to lose weight faster, helping in reducing the harmful fat from the body. Adding ghee to your diet is a must and is even healthy, and you must always keep this in mind that an active lifestyle and control consumption is the key to enjoy a balanced life!

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About Camel Milk:

Although it is not as prominent as cow milk, it is still gaining popularity, as it has various advantages that include better nutritional properties, chemical compounds, and it is more environment friendly, as camels do not require a large grazing area as cows or goats require. It has a higher amount of iron, Vitamin C, proteins, lower amount of fats, zinc, potassium, etc. which have been known to keep the human body healthy and fit. Apart from its richness in various nutrients, it is also helpful in fighting diabetes, because it has insulin-like properties that are helpful for treating type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

Ayurveda has also referred to its medicinal properties and has classified it under “Dugdha Varga,” where it is known as a valuable source of food and nutrition with a long history of its use for a thousand of years in different cultures. Consuming it may not be everyone’s cup of tea; however, switching to camel milk based on research & studies can be said to be one of the major reasons in alleviating lifestyle diseases. Considered as a healthy drink due to its low fat and cholesterol content, when compared to cow or goat milk, this milk is one of the best forms available today.

Nutritional Value of Camel milk:

When it comes to its nutritive value, it is known that it plays a significant role in maintaining the overall health of an individual. It is rich in calorie, protein and carbohydrate content that allows it to be compared to cow’s milk. Being lower in saturated fats and rich in Vitamin C, B, calcium, iron and potassium makes it healthier than cow’s milk. In terms of iron, it has 10 times more iron than cow’s milk.

When this milk is compared to milk produced by other bovine mammals, it has a greater value in terms of its digestibility in the human gastrointestinal system, as it has smaller milk fat-globules and has hypoallergenic properties. It does not contain lactoglobulins, which shows that it is good for people with dairy allergies. Milk has been known to be a major source of saturated fatty acids (SFA), and unsaturated fatty acid (USFA). The SFA content is lower as compared to cow milk. It has 55% more zinc than goat or cow milk that is considered as a major element for limiting the dietary growth nutrient in individuals suffering from deficiencies in micronutrients. It contains long-chain fatty acids, linoleic acids which have known properties in keeping the brain and heart-healthy.

When an individual consumes a one-half cup of camel milk, that is,120 ml, the following nutrients are being consumed:

  1. Calories: 50
  2. Fat: 3gm
  3. Protein: 3gm
  4. Carbs: 5gm
  5. Thiamine: 29% of the daily value
  6. Calcium: 16% of the daily value
  7. Riboflavin: 8% of the daily value
  8. Phosphorous: 6% of the daily value
  9. Potassium: 6% of the daily value
  10. Vitamin C: 5% of the daily value.

Chemical composition of camel milk:

It is known for its low amounts of fat and cholesterol levels, and modern medicinal studies have proved its effectiveness in treating various lifestyle disorders. This milk has the ability to allow an individual to go through the day with all his/her activities without consuming any other form of food. This is possible due to the presence of enough nutrients in the milk. It is opaque white in colour, with a normal smell that is sweet and has a sharp taste. It is, at times, salty, due to the physiological factors.

The water content in camel milk is the highest as compared to other forms of milk, that is, 86-87%. Therefore, it can be said that it has the ability to determine health benefits on an individual. In addition to its moisture levels, it is also a rich source of minerals, vitamins, fatty acids, enzymes, etc. It is also a good source of calcium, potassium, magnesium, zinc, etc. and is rich in Vitamin A, E, C and B1. It has been seen that the concentration of Vitamin C is 2-3 times higher than that of cow milk and has a lower pH level that stabilizes the milk. This allows the milk to be stored for a longer period of time without the formation of a cream layer.

It has different fatty acids such as butyric, caproic, caprylic, capric, lauric, myristic, myristoleic, oleic, linoleic, arachidic acids, etc. which help prevent the growth of antigens and boosts the effectiveness of the immunity system. It also contains enzymes such as aspartate aminotransferase (AST), alanine aminotransferase (ALT), gamma-glutamyl transferase (y-GT), acid phosphate (ACP), etc. that play a significant role in maintaining the quality of the milk. It also contains a number of protective proteins, such as lysozyme, lactoferrin, lactoperoxidase, peptidoglycan recognition protein (PGRP) that have antimicrobial properties, which help in enhancing its shelf life.

Camel Milk health benefits:

There is no end when it comes to camel milk benefits. It naturally acts as a pre-biotic that helps in healthy bacteria growth in the gut that makes it easier to digest and may also help in improving the gastrointestinal health and boost immunity. It is known to provide the foundation for its positive effect on health. Various researches have been done and are ongoing that show promising results on camel milk. A major finding is that it has lactoferrin that acts as an antioxidant, in turn, protecting the body from harmful viruses and bacterial infections. Acting as a good source of protein, it helps in maintaining stronger muscles. It has 50% less fat and 50% less saturated fat when compared to other forms of milk, that reduces the changes of heart diseases. The blood pressure of the body is maintained as it has potassium and phosphorus. When it is consumed with a low-sodium diet, it reduces the chances of a stroke. Drinking it may benefit the body in many ways, but most importantly, it is delicious!

Camel Milk for treating Autism:

It has been known to provide help in treating individuals suffering from autism. It has a smaller size of immunoglobulins that are effective in recovering the immune system of the individual or child with autism. In different studies, it has been mentioned that it reduces oxidative stress, and calms the mind of the autistic individual, along with increasing the antioxidant enzymes. As autism is associated with gastrointestinal diseases, as well as mental retardation, consuming camel milk can help them in recovering from both. It is known to develop motor behaviour, improve the behavioural and cognitive abilities, increase antioxidant activity and reduce oxidative stress among autistic individuals. It also boosts their social behaviour, communicating abilities, along with improving their speech and language. Further, it can be said to be a boon for autistic people.

Camel Milk effect as anti-ageing:

Beauty practices have had an endlessly fascinating history for the past civilizations. Among them, It has outweighed most of the exfoliators, hydrating masks, vitamin c serums, etc. It is known to have a higher concentration of alpha hydroxyl acids (AHAs) that help in exfoliating dead skin cells and allow for new cell generation. Loaded with lactic acid, a type of AHA known to be the most friendly acid for sensitive skin sloughs away the dead skin cells and leaves the skin looking fresh and clean. This acid also allows the skin to produce ceramides, by retaining its moisture, and the end result is a plumper, red and glowing skin. The presence of copper, iron, zinc and Vitamin C makes it an anti-ageing powerhouse. Vitamin C is a required element for generating collagen that protects the skin from the environmental pollution that causes wrinkles, fine lines, sagging skin and age spots. Vitamin C is also helpful in brightening the skin, reducing discolouration and evening out acne marks.

Camel Milk for the treatment of Crohn’s disease:

Crohn's disease or Crohn syndrome has various negative impacts such as weight loss, stomach pain, diarrhoea, and also includes inflammation of the eye, lack of concentration, tiredness, arthritis or skin rashes. The significant factors for this disease are the environment, immunity system or it may be microbial. It has been suggested by experts that milk of camel can be used to treat crohn's disease. The bacterium of crohn's disease is from tuberculosis family where milk of camel can be used to treat this bacterium, as it has bactericidal properties along with peptidoglycan recognition protein, which when combined, can help in healing this disease.

Camel milk for diabetes:

Diabetes is one of the most common diseases, which is associated with various complications such as heart diseases, kidney failure, blindness and amputation of the lower extremities. It has shown results in lowering the blood sugar levels and improving the insulin sensitivity in individuals suffering from type 1 and type 2 diabetes. It has insulin-like properties that are responsible for its antidiabetic activity. It can be used as an alternative to insulin therapy as it appears to be safe and effective in improving long-term glycemic control and is also helpful in reducing the insulin requirement for type 1 diabetic patients. Milk of camel not only positively affects the glycemic controls but also improves the lipid count among diabetic patients. Thus, it can be said that it acts as a great supplement for individuals suffering from diabetes.

Camel milk for height growth:

Ayurveda has always put emphasis on essential foods like milk, etc. Ayurvedic studies have always suggested that camel milk for height growth which is one of the most potent elements, and it is known to be its most intrinsic property. It is rich in calcium, vitamins and minerals that are required for the overall growth of the body, which includes height increase too! To enhance its height increasing element of, it should be consumed with Shatavari, Ashwagandha and Turmeric. Adding all these ingredients to this milk have shown positive results in increasing height. Ayurveda has said that consuming Shatavari on a regular basis makes the body healthy and strong and has height increasing supplements that allow for the natural growth of the body. Ashwagandha, according to experts, helps in releasing oxidative stress that leads to positive calcification of the bone, thus leading to increased height.

Camel Milk for lactose intolerance: 

The milk protein namely, beta-lactoglobulin present in cow’s milk is the major reason for allergies in humans. However, milk of camel is known to lack this protein, which makes it safe for people with allergies. A type of sugar, lactose, is found in every type of milk and its related products. A human body generates an enzyme named Lactase, which allows the body to digest this sugar. Some individuals lack this enzyme, which leads to inefficiency in breaking down the sugar. It has a very low amount of lactose in it, thus making it easily digestible for those with lactose intolerance. It also lacks A1 casein that cannot be digested by those with dairy allergies. It has A2 beta-casein proteins and various other proteins that contain immunoglobulins that may be helpful in boosting the immunity of an individual.

How to consume camel milk:

Camel milk, aside from keeping the body healthy and strong, also has various uses. Drinking it is one of the greatest ways for both children and adults to give their body the required amount of calcium and proteins. It can be consumed as its own beverage as there is no requirement to add anything to offset the taste. It can be easily mixed with coffee, which can act as a great way to start your day. It can also be used to cook. Instead of using cow’s milk, it can be used to get the healthy and tasty dishes that you want to have. This even includes cheese and yoghurt. A speciality of this milk is that it makes Feta cheese tastier than it already is.

Whether it is a smoothie or an energy drink, it can be used for both. It can also be consumed in breakfast, with cereals, muesli, etc. Baking just reached another level. Enjoy baking pudding, pancakes, cakes etc. with milk of camel. However, if this idea seems too extreme, you can start with making ice cream. Mix it with dates and a healthy drink will be ready! If plain milk is not your cup of tea, then add a little flavour to it with a bit of maple syrup, strawberries, banana, or turmeric. These give a special taste to your glass of milk and keep you healthy and safe from diseases.

Camel Milk side-effects:

Although it has various benefits that it offers to humans, it has certain downsides also. The first being, it is very expensive to buy. Since camels produce milk only after having given birth, this places a challenge on the production time. Camels also produce lower amounts of milk than cows, which is around 6 litres a day. Cows can generate 24 litres of milk in a day. Traditionally, milk of camel is consumed raw without any heat treatments and pasteurization, but health professionals do not recommend consuming raw milk as it can lead to a higher risk of food poisoning. The organisms present in raw milk can cause infections, kidney failure or can even lead to death. These risks are especially higher for pregnant women, children and the elderly.

Camel Milk price:

It can be an expensive spend and it can cost you around Rs. 3000 per litre. When compared to cow’s milk, it is almost 50 times the price. The demand for camel milk has kept the price on the higher side. Its popularity as a new health food has also boosted its sales. Although new camel farms are being set up across the country, their population is still limited, and it is not easy to milk a camel. Even after the camels have started producing milk, the camel herders still cannot gain as much milk as they could from a cow. It can be said to be an expensive luxury.

Where to buy camel milk?

It is available on all online stores, whether it is Amazon, Flipkart, or on the official websites of the companies selling it. It is also available offline, but it is not available everywhere and in every city, so it is better to order online. If you want to try milk of camel, there are companies such as Aadvik Foods that offers a trial pack in three flavours (Plain, chocolate and banana). It is an easy and convenient way to try this form of milk.

Conclusion and recommendation:

Thus, it can be said that milk of camel is a boost to human health that has recently gained attention as a healthy food in the developed countries. Research has shown that it is good for people with lactose intolerance and allergies to cow milk. It also helps in lowering blood sugar, boosting immunity, and overcoming various behavioural and neurodevelopmental diseases like autism. The demand for this has recently increased due to an increased interest of its consumers.

There is a huge scope for the preparation of functional fermented food products with milk of camel. It would be a boon for this industry, if it were able to get the premium price for its products.

However, it is a bit more expensive than other types of milk and is often unpasteurized, which can act as a health risk. Since its production is low primarily in the countries where bovine, sheep and goat milk products are high, importance should be given to its therapeutic elements and must be added into the daily lives of every human.