The health conscious may no longer need to shun ghee. This age-old cooking medium has been processed into forms that contain very low cholesterol and can also protect against heart diseases and hypertension.
Two types of ghee, low cholesterol ghee and Arjuna herbal ghee (fortified with the extract of a health-boosting herb), have been developed by scientists of the Karnal-based National Dairy Research Institute (NDRI).
Technologies for their commercial manufacture are now ready to be passed on to the dairy industry after being patented, says NDRI Joint-Director SL Goswami.
The new products have the taste, flavour, colour and consistency of traditional ghee. But instead of being hazardous, these forms boost the immune system and guard against cholesterol-related problems, claim their developers.
Arjuna ghee's health-promoting qualities derive from the extract of the herb Arjuna terminalia, which contains several antioxidants like polyphenols and terpenoids, besides phytosterol, beneficial for people suffering from cardio-vascular diseases and blood pressure.
It also strengthens the arteries, maintain NDRI scientists Rajnikant and GR Patil.
Consumer response studies have indicated Arjuna ghee is almost indistinguishable from the ghee available in the market and has a consumer acceptability of over 85 per cent. Besides, its contents conform to the specifications laid down by the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act rules and Agmark norms.
Low-cholesterol ghee, the other product for which a patent application has been filed through the National Research Development Corporation, is said to contain 85 per cent lower cholesterol than desi ghee, which has, on average, about 300 mg cholesterol in 100 gm of ghee. The cholesterol reduction has been achieved by adding a permitted cholesterol absorbent.
Several dairy product manufacturers have approached the NDRI for this technology. These include the Haryana and Rajasthan dairy development corporations, JK Dairy, and some private dairy companies.
This ghee has been developed by a team of NDRI scientists led by principal scientist Darshan Lal. "It will cost Rs 50 more per kg than desi ghee because of the additional cost of processing. The cholesterol absorbent used in the process alone costs about Rs 35 for treating 1 kg of ghee," the scientists point out.