Far more than a tasty cooking oil or healthy alternative to butter, ghee has numerous benefits. Highly revered in Ayurveda, ghee nourishes the brain, supports ojas (vital life energy), is easy to digest, and even enkindles the agni (digestive fire). Let’s explore the many benefits of ghee—from both an Ayurvedic and Western science perspective.
Nourishes the Brain
One of the many benefits of ghee is that it nourishes the brain and bone marrow. Dr. Frawley and Dr. Lad, two highly respected Ayurvedic practitioners and scholars, teach that ghee nourishes ojas and thereby also supports tejas, the luminous fire of the mind that promotes intelligence and clear awareness (1).
Also, ghee helps carry herbs deeper into the bodily tissues, thus enhancing their benefits. Therefore, consider taking nervine, mind-supporting herbs such as brahmi and gotu kola with ghee to enhance their effects.
Ghee and ghruta (the premium medicinal type of Ayurvedic ghee) provide more than just healthy fats, grass-fed ghee is rich in vitamins A, D, E, and K, antioxidants, and essential fatty acids, including Omega 3s. Omega 3 fatty acids have been linked to lower inflammatory markers (2).
Also, getting enough good quality fats is especially important for those with a predominant vata dosha. This is because vata types tend toward dryness, which can manifest as dry skin, eyes, hair, and even constipation. Therefore, it is especially important for vata types to nourish their tissues with good quality fats—from the inside out. Remember, that fat is an important macro-nutrient! In fact, one study of 27,000 people found that regular consumption of full fat dairy products significantly reduced the risk of diabetes (2).
In Ayurveda, ghee is a well-known support for ojas, the vital life sap and essential energy of the immune system. Foods with a sweet taste and nourishing post-digestive effect are generally supportive of ojas. Ghee falls into this category. Ghee is sweet-tasting, cooling, and nourishes all bodily tissues. By supporting all the bodily tissues, it also promotes ojas.
Easy to Digest
One of the most important ghee benefits is that it is easy to digest. Foods that are heavy, moist, and cooling will often dampen the digestive fires. But not ghee! Ghee is nourishing yet also light enough to be easily digested. In fact, Ayurveda considers ghee to be one of the most easily digested oils. Therefore, ghee makes an excellent everyday cooking and spreading oil. Consider ghee for soups, stews, roasted veggies, and even on toast and porridge!
Good For High Temperature Cooking
Lastly, but of significance, ghee is perfect for high temperature cooking. PIOR Living ghruta (a special type of Ayurvedic ghee) has a smoke point of 482 degrees Fahrenheit. Compare that to avocado oil which has a smoke point between 375-400 degrees Fahrenheit and olive oil with a smoke point of 325-375 degrees Fahrenheit. You can see why ghee is an ideal cooking oil. Also, ghee is so tasty, that you can lick it right off the spoon or enjoy a glob on your morning toast or kitchari!
(1) Frawley, D., & Lad, V. (2001). The yoga of herbs. Twin Lakes, WI: Lotus Press.
(2) Palanisamy, A. (2015). The Paleovedic diet. New York, NY: Skyhorse Publishing.
Greta Kent-Stoll is a Certified Ayurvedic Practitioner (NAMA), as well as a writer, editor, and Certified Iyengar Yoga Teacher. Her Ayurveda practice is based in Asheville, North Carolina and she is the co-owner of Iyengar Yoga Asheville.