February 2/New Delhi/Daily Mail -- India's National Dairy Research Institute (NDRI) has developed low-cholesterol ghee and commercialized the technology through the National Research Development Corporation (NRDC).

The low-fat variant of ghee claims to have 80-85% less cholesterol compared to normal desi ghee prepared from cow or buffalo milk cream.

The amount of cholesterol present in 100g of ghee is around 300mg. The new process can remove up to 85% of this cholesterol without affecting quality parameters specified under the Prevention of Food Adulteration (PFA) rules.

The technique involves taking cow or buffalo cream of suitable quality and treating it with an additive called beta-cyclodextrin before making the ghee. Studies carried out by NDRI found physical and chemical properties of low-cholesterol ghee to be similar except for some loss of vitamin D.

“This could be because of structural resemblance with vitamin D and cholesterol molecules,” a scientist said.

The carotene, vitamin A and E content varied only negligibly when compared to standard ghee. However, nutrition and health experts are not very enthused.

“It is a good innovation, but such ghee would be useful only for people who consume large amounts of visible fat in the form of oils and ghee,” said Dr. Umesh Kapil, professor of nutrition at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences.

He said people should not be encouraged to consume more of this ghee just because it is low on cholesterol.

Higher levels of cholesterol in human body depend on several factors and not just dietary intake.

Saturated fats and lack of physical activity contribute a great deal to abnormal cholesterol levels.

Dr. D. Prabhakaran, director, Centre for Chronic Disease Control, said, “We need evidence on the effects of this ghee on cholesterol levels.

“Unless we know that it actually lowers blood cholesterol levels, it can't be considered heart-friendly or a healthy product.

“It is dangerous because such products may set in false sense of complacence and comfort among people,” Kapil said. Cholesterol, produced by the human liver, is crucial for normal body functioning.

It exists in the outer layer of every cell in our body and has many useful functions.

 From the February 3, 2012, Prepared Foods' Daily News.