The food that we eat has a purpose whether it is to give energy, bodybuilding, to help with weight loss, weight gain, to help control certain medical conditions, etc. The food we eat helps to nourish our bodies, and thereby helps with an overall better output and performance. There is no single food that can nourish you completely, and encompass all your nutritional needs in one fell swoop; but “Superfoods” come quite close to doing just that.
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Superfoods are the new “it” thing that everyone is talking about. Though the term may be new and improved these are foods that have been around for centuries and are often found in all our kitchens.
The Term Super food is generally used to refer to foods that offers you the maximum benefits with minimal calories.
Some people say that superfoods are the foods that are the keys to help you look younger, live longer, be happier, healthier, etc. When you read of statements like that, the mind automatically goes to things that are expensive, and fancy, with complicated sounding names, that are found rarely, if ever in some far of jungle, and almost impossible to find; that might very well be, but they are also a lot closer than you think. Quite a few of these super foods are those that are had on an almost daily basis, and no Indian dish is complete without.
Here are 10 commonly found Indian Super foods:
Commonly known as Rajgira (in gujarati), chauli (in hindi), dantu beeja, and navanakki (in Kannada), etc. Amaranth seeds are a pseudo-cereal that is gluten free, rich in fibre, and has a significant quantity of protein in it. It is packed with vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, and has a lot of anti-inflammatory properties; which makes it beneficial in reducing blood pressure levels, promoting smooth digestion, reducing inflammation, etc.
Ladoos (with puffed rice and jaggery); boiled (as a substitute to rice); the flour can be used to make chapathis/ chillas; Raab (a broth of amaranth flour, ghee, jaggery, and dry ginger powder), etc.
Drumstick leaves or Moringa leaves, nugge yele (kannada), saijan patta (hindi), etc. These are small oval shaped leaves that are a powerhouse of vitamins and minerals, especially the b-complex vitamins, and minerals such as iron, zinc, magnesium, calcium, etc.
Sabjis and curries (either plain or in combination with other vegetables); added to dhal or sambhar; made into a powder, and added to any juice; added to batters, and doughs of foods like chapathis, dosas/chillas etc.
Amla or the Indian goose berry is a rich store house of vitamin C (100g of amla has the vitamin C content of 20 oranges). These are small green and greenish-yellow berries that have been around for 100s of years. As a rich source of vitamin C, when consumed with anything that is rich in iron, it aids in absorption of the iron by the body. Apart from being rich in vitamin C, they are also a good source of fibre, and have been linked to better diabetes control, better digestion, healthier skin, hair, eyes, etc.
It can be consumed as juice, jams, pickles, chutneys, etc.
Jamun or Java Plum, is an oval shaped fruit that has a rich purple/indigo coloured exterior, and a white interior. This is a fruit from a tree that is indigenous to India. Its taste ranges from mildly sweet to tart (a spicy sub-acidic flavour).
Most often Jamuns are used in the preparation of deserts, jams, juices, etc. They are also consumed plain or with salt; they can even be made into wine and vinegar. The seeds of the jamun can be dried and made into a powder that can be added to different flours, and consumed which has benefits in diabetes control.
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These are small, silver coloured fish that belong to the herring family. They are found in large schools, and mainly feed on plankton. Sardines are oily fish and are preferred as a healthy source of DHA, and proteins. .
They can be consumed as fresh fish (curry, fry, etc.), or dried; very often they extract the oil from them which is then used in the pharmaceutical industry, and can even be converted into margarine. Tinned/canned sardines are also a favourite of many as a breakfast dish.
This is a blue-green algae that is found in water (both fresh and salty). It is widely known for its anti-oxidant properties, it is also a very rich of DHA.
Spirulina is available commercially as a powder, capsules/tablets. This can be consumed as such, or added to juices, made into ladoos, chikkis, etc.
Banana heart, banana blossom, etc. are all terms that are used to refer to the flowers of the baba plant. These flowers are found at the end of the bunch of bananas. The banana flower is rich in iron, calcium, potassium, magnesium, etc. it has a role as a galactogogues (enhancing breast milk production), maintaining blood sugar, easing menstrual discomforts, etc.
Banana flower is most commonly prepared as a sabji, curry, chutney, and even chips or bhajjis.
Dried turmeric is a common Indian spice that is very widely used for its aromatic, flavouring, medicinal and antiseptic properties, Turmeric can be consumed in the dried and powdered form, are even in the fresh root form, the leaves of the turmeric plant are also edible. Curcumin is the active ingredient present in turmeric, which helps give us all the above mentioned benefits.
Dried turmeric is mainly used as a spice, however fresh turmeric can be used to make sabjis, chutnies, etc. The leaves of the turmeric plant are also used for the purpose of steaming, and are even chopped into small pieces and added to curries and sabjis for flavouring.
Beetroots are one of those vegetables, where in the whole plant can be consumed- i.e. both the leaves and the root can be consumed. Beetroots are rich in folic acid, potassium, fibre, oxalates, etc. it is known to reduce inflammation, and have a strong anti-oxidant properties.
beetroots can be consumed as juice, salad, sabjis/curries soups, etc. and the same goes for the leaves as well; beetroots can also be converted into desserts and consumed, or even made into chutneys, pickles, etc.
A glass of cold chaas, or buttermilk on a hot day, now doesn’t that sound refreshing; Buttermilk, like its counterparts, curd, yoghurt, and lassi is a rich source of probiotics, and can and should be consumed on a regular basis. Buttermilk is a well-known remedy for gastritis and acidity, especially when coupled with mint and coriander seeds. It can be consumed as a drink (plain), and is also a constituent of several other dishes as well.
“Super foods” are the latest and newest kids on the block when it comes to nutrition; however a deeper and closer inspection reveals that most of these foods along with the other super foods, have actually been around for a much longer time than you and I. It is now that there is a lot of research being done to understand the numerous benefits that these superfoods can have on our system. A well balanced diet, incorporating ample amounts of these super foods on a daily basis, has been shown to provide us with a myriad of benefits for our health; it’s time to start eating healthy.
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