Superfoods In The Indian Kitchen
This article is authored by Dr. Shweta U. Shah. A practicing homeopath, she follows a patient-centred perspective, emphasizing the benefits of natural remedies and herbs, homeopathy and whole food nutrition.
A term coined fairly recently – superfood - is a nutritionally-dense food that promotes health. Kale, blueberries, shiitake mushrooms and acai berry are some examples of western foods that are popular right now and which have claimed the ‘superfood’ label. These foods contain potent nutrients and antioxidants, which help fight a multitude of diseases and offer many health benefits.
Consuming foods that are packed with vital nutrients is definitely a good idea. In India, we have our very own superfoods that have been offering remarkable health benefits since hundreds of years. These classic foods are ingredients and food products that we use every day without realising their potency.
Discover these common ingredients which are present in your pantry and understand why they deserve the title of being ‘superfoods.’
4 Indian Superfoods
These five foods are absolutely worthy of the ‘superfood’ title. They are nutrient dense and contain goodness that promises to help you good health. They help in fighting diseases, perk up metabolism and boost immunity.
Paalak (spinach) is a good source of vitamin A, C, and K, calcium, as well as several antioxidants which can have a beneficial effect on your health. Half a cup of paalak provides about 5 times your daily dose of vitamin K and this helps with normal clotting of blood. It helps build strong bones too. It also contains loads of fibre which helps with weight management. The leafy green veggie can detoxify the body. Vitamin A and lutein, present in spinach, keep your eyes healthy and prevent macular degeneration. Paalak paneer, paalak shorba and aloo paalak are the way to go! Toss spinach in your salads soups, dals, curries and stews.
Dals and beans are packed with fibre, folate, and protein. As they contain flavonoids, beans help the arteries stay relaxed and pliable, prevent atherosclerosis and deflect heart diseases. Beans are also a good food option for diabetics since they prevent oscillations in the blood sugar level. Understand the nutritional value of pulses and experiment with different beans and dals.
Indian cuisines have a host of dal recipes – Dal Makhani, Dal Fry, Dal Tadka, Panchkuti Dal and so many more. Our curries and stews also include dals and pulses. You could incorporate dals in your salads, soups, and casseroles. Indian mithai too integrate dal – besan ladoo, moong dal halwa, Mysore pak and many more. Furthermore, opt for unpolished dals from the Tata Sampann range to get the most amount of nutritional content from each ingredient.
Our very own haldi (turmeric), which grandmothers and mothers have been prescribing to us for ages, is now a global superstar! Turmeric’s active oleoresin, curcumin makes it a powerful spice. Health benefits of haldi include that it has anti-inflammatory properties which can help in reducing inflammation throughout the body. It also contains antioxidants and helps with digestion. Tata Sampann Haldi provides minimum 3% of curcumin guaranteed and is scientifically manufactured and packaged to retain natural oils and its inherent benefits.
Along with being a potent source of protein and calcium, dahi also contains probiotics. These are the beneficial bacteria which effectively shield you from harmful bacteria. Yogurt has a favourable action of the GI tract – it deals with acidity, indigestion and heartburn and peps up the functioning of the bowels. Avoid flavoured yogurts though as they may contain sugar. Stick with our traditional dahi preparations such as raita, chaas and lassi. You can also substitute dahi in place of cream and mayonnaise in dips and sauces to make them healthier.
It is not always easy to incorporate foreign superfoods in our diets. However, with a little bit of awareness and planning, you can effortlessly add these Indian superfoods to your menu.
- American Heart Association
The views and opinions expressed in this content piece are those of the author(s) and not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any other agency, organization, employer or company. Assumptions made in the analysis are not reflective of the position of any entity other than the author(s).