All the members of New Delhi-based S. Rahul's family are health-conscious. That's the reason why olive oil bottles, often perceived to be a healthier option compared to other cooking oils, made way to their kitchen. Three years ago, this family made a switch to "desi ghee" (clarified butter), again apparently because of its health benefits.
They are, however, not alone. More and more "modern" families in India today are adopting the so called "old-style" habit of cooking with desi ghee. What is more, even doctors and nutritionists agree that when consumed in limited quantity, it can strengthen your bone and boost immunity.
"Desi ghee is considered as one of the best immunity boosters in Indian society. It is beneficial for our eyesight, digestive system and even strengthens bones. Desi ghee also promotes healthy skin and hair," Priyanka Rohtagi, Chief Clinical Nutritionist at Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals, told IANS.
"It is a great antibiotic and helps during cold and cough. It is also used on wounds to speed up healing. During pregnancy, desi ghee provides nourishment to both the mother and the child as they need more nutrients," she said.
Rahul, however, made the decision to switch to desi ghee not on the basis of recommendations of any doctor or nutritionist. He said some YouTube videos explaining the benefits of desi ghee influenced his decision.
"We relied on olive oil before, but we have switched to desi ghee now as it does not burn a hole in your pocket and is also good for health because of its anti-inflammatory properties. It has also eased my psoriasis symptoms," Rahul claimed.
"After trying desi ghee, we found that it helped us reduce weight while my parents too have stopped complaining about joint pains," he added.
Desi ghee is made by gently heating cow milk butter. The process becomes complete once the water is evaporated and the fat is separated from the milk solids.
"Ghee primarily contains saturated fatty acids and is rich in vitamins A, E and K2. It is also rich in Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) and Butyrate, both of which have powerful health benefits," B.L. Agarwal, Associate Director, Cardiology, at Jaypee Hospital in Noida, told IANS.
"A normal adult can consume 1-2 table spoons of ghee per day. Apart from that, this quantity can be slightly changed depending upon the quantity of work out one is doing," Agarwal said.
However, desi ghee should be consumed judiciously as it results in obesity and people suffering from any heart disease, kidney ailment or cholesterol should avoid or limit its consumption, Rohtagi stressed.
"Those who have vitamin A, D, E and K deficiency should take desi ghee in moderation. Consuming desi ghee regularly is excellent for joint health and can act as a lubricant," said Shalini Bliss, Head Nutritionist and Dietician, Columbia Asia Hospital in Gurugram.
"It is also helpful in the treatment of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis," she added.
However, consumers should keep in mind that desi ghee contains saturated fat and overdose for a long time can increase cholesterol level, which is not good for the body, experts said.