You may have heard that the standard of health in India has really declined in recent years. The reason is quite simple. Even though most people in India are vegetarian, they cook their vegetables in extremely hot vegetable oil until most of the nutrients are gone. And the nutrients that they do eat aren't absorbed well.
As you probably know, nutrients can't do your body much good if you don't digest and absorb them. Your digestive system is a complicated process. If it's disturbed too much with soft drinks, junk food, vegetable fats, and other toxins, it can be difficult to get the full benefit of the nutrients you consume. So I'm always on the lookout for better ways to help your body absorb them. Well, here's a very tasty way to do just that.
Obviously, vegetable oil isn't the answer. Many of these oils have dubious health benefits. Some are even dangerous to consume. Coconut oil, on the other hand, is great. But it's fairly expensive.
Personally, I love butter. The taste is great. And it helps your body absorb nutrients effectively. Unfortunately, butter is hard to cook with. It has a low smoke point and burns very fast. But the folks in Northern India, where the health standard hasn't declined so much, are using butter to cook veggies with — and their butter doesn't burn.
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That's because they use ghee or clarified butter. If you're an avid cook, you've undoubtedly heard of these before. Clarified butter is wonderful to cook with, as it has a very high smoke point. But even more impressive is that many people believe it has the ability to magnify the nutritional value of the food you cook in it. The reason? It helps your body absorb the nutrients even better.
Now, there aren't a lot of studies to prove this. There's just not enough financial incentive to study it. But there is one study on calcium from 1971 that suggests it works. This study showed that ghee helps your body absorb calcium better. The results of the study suggest that people who suffer from calcium deficiency, but eat calcium-rich foods, could be cooking their vegetables in the wrong type of fat. Butter, as you may know, is a great source of calcium. As are your vegetables. And cooking your vegetables in ghee or clarified butter is better than either one by itself.
You can buy ghee and clarified butter online and at some health food stores (avoid vegetable ghee). It can be expensive, though. And I like inexpensive solutions when possible. Alton Brown, from the Food Channel, has a better solution — make your own. All you need is some butter from grass-fed cows (available online and at many health food stores) and follow his directions on these two websites:
For ghee: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/ghee-recipe.html.
For clarified butter: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/clarified-butter-recipe.html.
The end product is a great tasting cooking fat that is good for you, lasts a good while, and helps you absorb the nutrients in your vegetables you eat even better.
Your insider for better health,
Williams, R. Nutrition Against Disease. New York: Bantam Books, 1971, pages 298-299