Health Hazard Alert: Smoke Signals Danger When Cooking with Ghee, Say Experts

Health Hazard Alert: Smoke Signals Danger When Cooking with Ghee, Say Experts

Health Hazard Alert: Smoke Signals Danger When Cooking with Ghee, Say Experts

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Dietitians warn of potential risks associated with ghee’s high smoke point.

20 May 2024

By Payoshi Bisht

In the culinary world, ghee, or clarified butter, reigns supreme as a hero ingredient in Indian cuisine. Renowned for its rich flavour and high smoke point, ghee has long been favoured for its ability to withstand high temperatures during cooking. However, recent warnings from health experts shed light on a potential health hazard that often goes unnoticed: the sight of smoke emanating from ghee-filled pans.

According to dietitian and digital creator Shreya Katyal, the appearance of smoke while cooking with ghee could signal a dangerous health risk. In an Instagram post link, Katyal cautions her followers, stating that heating ghee to the point of smoke release could lead to the formation of damaging free radicals, posing potential risks to health.

Consultant dietitian and diabetes educator Kanikka Malhotra corroborates this claim, emphasising that heating ghee or oil beyond its smoke point can convert healthy fats into harmful compounds such as aldehydes and hydrocarbons. These free radicals, she explains, have the potential to cause cellular damage, inflammation and increase the risk of chronic diseases, including heart disease and certain malignancies. 

  • Ghee (smoke point ~482°F) is a good option for high-heat cooking like searing. For lower heat methods like sauteing, opt for refined options like: 
  • Mustard oil (smoke point ~400°F) adds a pungent flavour, perfect for tadka. 
  • Rice bran oil (smoke point ~400°F) is neutral-flavoured and versatile. 
  • Groundnut oil (smoke point ~430°F) is another good all-purpose choice.

Furthermore, Nisha, a consultant dietitian and nutritionist at Motherhood Hospitals in Gurgaon, underscores the importance of caution, particularly for pregnant women. She warns that exposure to harmful compounds released when oil reaches its smoke point could pose additional risks during pregnancy, potentially impacting both maternal and foetal health.

To mitigate the risks associated with cooking oils reaching their smoke points, Malhotra offers specific techniques and recommendations. She advises choosing the right oil for different cooking methods and leveraging the unique smoke points of various fats. Techniques such as using the right amount of oil, avoiding overcrowding the pan, and utilising cookware with good thermal conductivity can help ensure safe cooking practices while preserving flavour and nutritional integrity.