Is it safe to eat ghee every day? (5+ benefits)
In this article, we will discuss whether it is safe to eat ghee every day, the risks of eating ghee every day, the benefits of eating ghee every day, and when should you not eat ghee.
Ghee is a dairy product rich in fats, similar to butter and widely consumed in Indian cuisine for several centuries. It is related to several therapeutic properties and medicinal applications.
Is it safe to eat ghee every day?
Yes, it is safe to eat ghee every day, unless the ghee is oxidised or spoiled (4, 5). Consuming ghee in a moderate amount can have positive effects on health (1, 2, 5). Ghee has been used for centuries to treat diseases in the Ayurvedic medicine.
However, some controversies are applied to the consumption of ghee, as it is a source of fats with a majority of saturated fatty acids. The recommended daily intake of saturated fatty acids is limited to 10 % of the total caloric intake (7).
High ingestion of saturated fatty acids has been related to a higher risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke since the 1980s, although recent studies show divergent evidence on the primary health consequences of ingesting saturated fat.
What are the risks of eating ghee every day?
The risk of eating ghee every day is an increase in the risk of developing heart disease. According to recent studies, the ingestion of saturated fats results in higher risks of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and stroke when overconsumed (7).
The risk is, however, limited to genetically predisposed individuals rather than the majority of the population, as demonstrated in populational studies.
Are saturated fatty acids healthy?
Yes, saturated fats from whole foods may reduce the risks of stroke in most cases. Consuming complex food matrix rich in saturated fats, such as fatty dairy products, dark chocolate and unprocessed meats was not related to higher risks of CVD (7).
Studies show that the ingestion of saturated fatty acids affects health negatively when derived from processed foods, such as processed meats, margarine, shortening and refined coconut oil.
In addition, the ingestion of refined carbohydrates would have more negative health implications than saturated fats.
In this way, ghee should not be a health risk, when consumed as a part of a balanced diet, as it is a complex and unrefined source of fats and contains other important nutrients (1, 3, 5).
What are the benefits of eating ghee every day?
The benefits of eating ghee every day are not well documented, although studies showed that ghee, ingested in a quantity of up to 10 % in the diet may favour the insulin response, reducing the risks of diabetes (2).
What are the compounds in ghee and their benefits?
The compounds in ghee and their health benefits are summarised in the table below (1, 3):
|Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA)||Its consumption is related to a lower risk of developing obesity, diabetes and cancer. It favours the immune system, bone recovery and the reduction of blood pressure|
|Vitamin A and E||Antioxidants, help in the prevention of diseases|
|Milk fat globule membrane (MFGM)||Antibacterial properties, help reduce the cholesterol levels in the blood and are involved in many biochemical pathways in the body|
|Phospholipids||Important for the functioning of the brain cells|
|Polyunsaturated fatty acids||Help prevent cancer and heart diseases|
When is ghee not safe to eat every day?
Ghee is not safe to eat every day when it is spoiled or oxidised. Although ghee is less affected by microorganisms and more affected by lipid oxidation, ghee can be contaminated by microorganisms, especially in the form of spores (5).
Does ghee spoil?
Yes, ghee can spoil. The thermal processing of ghee, in which water is removed by heat, reduces its moisture and the high amount of lipids limits the growth of microorganisms (5).
However, spores of Bacillus can survive and develop when moisture increases in the ghee. In addition, microbial contamination by poor handling and cross-contamination can lead to foodborne illnesses (4).
Therefore, homemade ghee is more susceptible to microbial contamination than industrially processed ghee.
Does ghee become rancid?
Yes, ghee becomes rancid and develops off-odours. Due to the high amount of unsaturated fats in the ghee, it is very susceptible to oxidation, generating toxic oxidative compounds.
Aldehydes, ketones and other toxic compounds derived from lipid oxidation cause oxidative stress in the body, leading to inflammatory diseases (5, 6). These compounds are mutagenic and can interfere with cell metabolism.
In the long term, a higher risk of inflammatory diseases can occur due to the ingestion of oxidised ghee, including Alzheimer’s and heart disease, cancer and atherosclerosis.
In this article, we discussed whether it is safe to eat ghee every day, what are the risks of eating ghee every day, if saturated fat is healthy and when you should not eat ghee.
Ghee and other dairy products have caused controversies in the scientific medical debate in the past decades, due to their amount in saturated fatty acids. However, more and more evidence has shown that dairy fat is not harmful to health.
Although I have never tried ghee, whole milk, fatty cheese and butter are part of my daily diet.
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