If you’ve been following us for any length of time, you know by now that good health and weight management is not about slashing fats. In fact, bringing the right fats can benefit your weight AND enhance your health, even when it comes to managing cholesterol levels.
“But I already know this!” you may reply. “I ditched the corn and safflower oils for good quality olive oil. I’m eating avocados by the bucket, and sprinkling nuts on my chia pudding!”
All wonderful things, say the Nourishing Gurus. But what would you say if we told you that saturated fats were missing?
Saturated fats? But how can this be? Read any magazine or heart healthy food guide hanging around your local doctors office and you will see saturated fats on the “DO NOT EAT” list – foods that “they” say will contribute to your next stroke or heart attack. Foods that are terrible for you and will clog up your arteries in seconds flat.
Believe it or not, this is simply not true. Evidence is now pointing to sugars, refined flours, and trans fats as the real villains, letting good quality saturated fats off the hook (though much of this has not reached the mainstream yet). In fact, good quality saturated fats are critical for brain function, nerve conduction, immunity, improved liver function and stronger bones.
If your diet is rich in vegetables, fruits, beans/legumes, and proteins like chicken, fish, nuts and seeds, then bringing in a dose of healthy saturated fats is a wonderful way to round out your diet and contribute some great nutrition and taste as well. Here, we are talking about things like red palm oil, coconut oil, grass-fed meats and even lard and butter from grass-fed animals.
One of our favorite saturated fats that we would like to highlight today is something called “ghee.” Ghee is actually clarified butter (butter with the milk solids removed, cleared of any traces of protein or lactose), and is known for its taste, nutritional benefits, and medicinal qualities. This makes ghee a great alternative for those who are lactose intolerant.
According to Ayurvedic medicine, ghee is the best fat a person can eat and absolutely essential to the diet. Among its many health benefits:
- higher burning (smoke) point makes it a good choice for cooking and baking
- decent source of omega 3 fatty acids (especially if from grass-fed cows)
- rich in fat soluble vitamins vitamin A, D, E, and K
- improves the digestive process by stimulating the secretion of stomach acids (therefore can be helpful for ulcers, acid reflux, constipation and other digestive issues)
- aids elimination
- lowers insulin resistance
- helps your body to get rid of toxins (often used in detoxes)
- promotes skin + eye health
- strengthens immunity
Vitamins and minerals from food cooked in ghee will are drawn deep into the body so we can get all the benefits from it. That’s one of the reasons it’s so popular in Indian cooking – when you add spices to ghee to cook with the flavor, it is carried deep into the food.
We use ghee in stir fries, for browning meats, sautéing garlic and onions for soups or stews, and even with eggs. It’s really yummy melted over steamed veggies too, or mixed with spaghetti squash or drizzled over cooked lentils.
Ideally, look for grass fed ghee, such as the brand Pure Indian Foods. It is a local NJ based company that is family owned. You can find this or other grass-fed brands in health food stores or online.
We would love to hear from you about this fascinating topic. Have you been avoiding saturated fats because you think they are unhealthy? Share your concerns/thoughts here in our comments section.