Ghee is a delicacy many Ugandans enjoy, but it contains saturated fatty acids and cholesterol, nutrients previously thought to contribute to heart disease.
The US national library of medicine, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov, says in India, where ghee was popular, it was thought that ghee was contributing to the increasing coronary artery disease (CAD) and people were discouraged from eating it.
But scientists are now saying there is no evidence linking saturated fat intake to increased heart disease and that research findings were misinterpreted, although they are yet to come out to say we should enjoy our saturated fats. Further studies are needed, they say. Their research findings can be found in the journal, Annals of Internal Medicine.
Are more studies on ghee also needed? Because it contains saturated fatty acids, is ghee bad for our hearts and general health?
Muniirah Mbabazi, a nutrition consultant with Nutrisat Uganda, cautions against labelling any food as bad, unless it is poisonous.
“Technically speaking, there are no bad foods for as long as they satiate or provide nutrients to the body or do not poison the consumer in anyway. What makes them bad is how we use them. The law of nature demands that we do all we do in moderation. However, if we fail to strike the moderate balance, then food becomes bad,” she says.
“When consumed in large quantities, ghee may be bad for the heart, because it is largely a saturated fat and also contains cholesterol, all of which are known to be unfriendly to the heart.”
Findings of a 2010 study authored by Hari Sharma and others on The Effect Of Ghee (Clarified Butter) On Serum Lipid Levels And Microsomal Lipid Preoxidation, show that “consumption of 10% ghee may increase triglyceride levels, but not lipid peroxidation processes that are linked to a higher risk of cardiovascular disease.”
The article also mentions that previous research has shown that moderate consumption of ghee is not bad for heart health. Moderate consumption constitutes no more than two spoonfuls.
It also mentions that previous research has found that people who consumed higher amounts of ghee had a lower prevalence of CAD than those who consumed both ghee and vegetable fat (said to contain up to 40 per cent transfats).
Ghee contains antibacterial, antiviral and anti-oxidant properties. Because of these, it is a good anti-wrinkling and anti-ageing therapy. Mbabazi says ghee’s Vitamin A properties help in disease prevention and healing.
It is also excellent for joints when taken in moderation and if other fats taken during the day are from plant oils, it could help to lower cardiovascular disease because of its anti-oxidant properties and fat soluble vitamins such as vitamins A, E and D.
“Just like any other fatty foods, ghee is fattening. When consumed, it is broken down and used as fat to protect organs, insulate the skin or even form part of some body chemicals like the steroid hormones. When consumed in excess, what the body does not use is stored as fat directly,” Mbabazi says.
Source : The Observer