Effect of dietary ghee--the anhydrous milk fat, on blood and liver lipids in rats

J Nutr Biochem. 1999 Feb;10(2):96-104. doi: 10.1016/s0955-2863(98)00088-6.


Dairy products are important sources of dietary fat in India. Anhydrous milk fat, viz., ghee, is consumed as such in the diet and also is used for frying the dishes. Ghee contains high levels of saturated fatty acids and cholesterol, which are considered risk factors for cardiovascular diseases. In the present study, ghee, at levels ranging from 0.25 to 10%, was included in a nutritionally balanced AIN-76 diet fed to Wistar rats for a period of 8 weeks. The serum lipid profiles of these animals showed a dose dependent decrease in total cholesterol, low density lipoproteins and very low density lipoproteins cholesterol, and triglyceride levels when ghee was present at levels greater than 2.5% in the diet. Liver cholesterol and triglycerides also were decreased in these animals. When ghee was included as a sole source of fat at a 10% level, polyunsaturated fatty acids in the serum and liver lipids were reduced significantly. Similar results were observed when ghee was subjected to a higher temperature (120 degrees C) to generate cholesterol oxidation products and fed to the animals. Although cholesterol oxidation products were not accumulated in serum, significant amounts were accumulated in liver only when ghee was fed as a sole source of fat at a 10% level. This study revealed that the consumption of ghee up to a 10% level in the diet altered blood lipid profiles in such a manner as not to elevate the risk factors for cardiovascular diseases.