Friday, April 11, 2014

Lotus Seeds or Makhanas - Anti aging and diarrhoea home remedy

                                                        As Calming as the Lotus Flower!

While I was a shopping at a grocery store, my little one came across these cute looking lotus seeds (fresh ones). He was taken by their appearance and wished to savour them then and there. Well, I did not know how to use the fresh lotus seeds, but little that I knew was that they might need to be cooked. Also, I had always tried the dry or the puffed version, the makhanas.
Fresh lotus seeds have been extensively used by Chinese, in their foods like soups, desserts for its health benefits as well as the appealing taste. Whereas, Indians use more of the puffed lotus seeds known to us as Makhanas, as a quick snack, curries and desserts.
Here are some of its health benefits :-
It is high in fiber, so it helps to maintain good gut health.
It is digestive for age groups and due to its astringent property, Chinese use it to treat diarrhea and in improving appetite.
Its anti - inflammatory properties helps prevent many degenerative diseases like diabetes mellitus, heart problems and even cancers.
As Makhana are powerful antioxidants they also known as anti aging foods. Aging is also a result of adverse effects of free radicals in the body.
Makhana acts as an aphrodisiac. It increases quality and quantity of semen, prevents premature ejaculation, increases libido and helps in female infertility.
Regulates blood pressure as they are low in sodium and high in potassium. Hence, a very beneficial food for the hypertensive people.
It can also treat insomnia, palpitations and irritability.
It strengthens the heart.
It strengthens the body and reduces burning sensation and quenches thirst.
According to the Chinese medicine, fox nut or Makhana is used to strengthen spleen and kidneys.
Herbalists foind it helpful in preventing early discharge of semen and restores sexual vigor in older men.
It is also recommended for the women during pregnancy and post natal weaknesses.
They are low in calories, fat and high in fiber and proteins. Hence, can be a good food for diabetics as well as for weight watchers.
A small but logical tip :-
Because they help maintain the moisture levels of our body cells, and due to their highly beneficial nutrition profile, one can just roast a bag of makhanas, or popped lotus seeds and slightly season it with salt and spices and can use it as a travel food. That's what I do when I am out on a sunny day.
If you are running short of time, you can simply munch on them without roasting to suit yourself.
( Left - Fresh Lotus seeds, Right - Seasoned Puffed Lotus seeds / Makhanas)

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Parboiled (Converted) Rice.. a nutritious, yet tasty option!

I have been extensively studying researches about parboiled rice. And to my amazement, its nutrition profile matches 80% to that of brown rice. The only thing it scores lower than brown rice is its fibre content, and antioxidants which impart brown rice its respective colour.

What is Parboiled Rice
Rice produced by the process of parboiling or partially boiling. During this process, the harvested paddy (rice with husk) is hydrated and then steamed, before drying. Once dried completely, the husk is removed. 

Advantage of parboiled rice
The process of steaming or heating the hydrated paddy, forces the nutrients (especially, vitamin B1) in the husk to get absorbed into the grains, making the rice nutritious.
While parboiling, the cracked kernels inside the husk may get glued together, thereby reducing the number of broken grains.
Parboiling process also helps in the sterilization of harvested rice, which may contain impurities and insect eggs.

Ease of Cooking
When compared to white rice, parboiled version takes longer to cook and is not sticky. Once cooked, the rice will be firmer and retains its shape too. But, it takes lesser time for parboiled rice to get cooked, if you compare it with brown rice. Parboiled type is easily digestible and delicious.

Nutrition profile
This rice is rich in B vitamins, folate, potassium, phosphorous, calcium and selenium. In fact, parboiled rice contains more folate and B vitamins, as compared to brown rice. It is also very low in fat, as 100 grams of this rice contain only 0.4 gram of fat. Compared to white rice, both parboiled and brown rice have low GI (glycemic index).

So those who want to control their sugar levels, and find it difficult to change from white rice to brown, opting for parboiled rice can be a better option.

For those, who do not want to compromise on the fibre content and want to reap the benefits of both types, can look for Parboiled Brown Rice or simply soak the brown rice in advance and then cook it alongwith parboiled white rice which does not take much time to cook.

In the picture along, you see parboiled rice on the top, brown rice on the bottom left corner and white rice on the bottom right.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Increase Iron levels in Vegetarians

Are you low on Iron, and blame it on your Vegetarianism? Think twice next time ! 

Probably the best known nutrition fact about iron is that meats—particularly red meats—are rich in iron. While this is true, it is also true that a number of plant foods are also rich in iron. 
It may come as a surprise that researchers have found that people eating plant-based diets eat as much or more iron as people who regularly rely on animal foods. And, you'll see that our list of excellent iron sources is largely dominated by plant foods.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Foods to fight the Haze effect :)

Haze is in the Air! ... but do not let your immune system be hazed !

Singapore and Malaysia are hazed with forest fire smoke blowing in from Indonesia. The result is, many people are facing irrtiability in the eyes, nose, throat, and seriously affecting those with lung disorders like asthma, COPD etc. I am feeling irritability in the throat too since last evening

It was when I had already decided to resort to dietary and other health related measures, when one of my client called up to ask what she can do to prevent her family from haze health hazards.

Here are some simple, foods list and tips that can help build ones immune system strong enough to resist haze effects.

Cook some food in coconut oil or simply drink it, just 1 tsp for the whole day is enough to work wonders ;)

Drink atleast a glass of carotene rich vegetable juice per day - like Spinach, carrot, tomato juice.

Eat yellow and orange squash, dark greens, carrots, yams, sweet potatoes, red peppers and tomatoes. Cabbage family foods (Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, broccoli, radish and turnip) help prevent low immunity.

Check your protein intake and increase it if consuming less than 2 servings a day. Fresh Sprouts can help increase proteins as well as vitamin C.

Flavonoids rich berries, garlic, yogurt and artichoke also help boost immunity.

Vitamin C is an essential vitamin in maintaining the lung tissue integrity. So eat citrus fruits (avoid juices), squeeze lemon juice, add fresh corriander leaves in your food.

Consume 2 cups of green tea per day. It helps production of immune cells.

Drink 2.5 - 3 litres of water, warm if possible.

Go high on these herbs - turmeric, ginger, gingko bilabo, ginseng, ecinaceae, dandelion, licorice root.
The simplest tip that I always practice whenever there is somebody with cough, cold, fever (rarely) in my family, is put a pinch or two of turmeric powder, black pepper powder, cardamom powder in hot milk.

Try having hot Indian Masala Milk - with a tsp of dry fruits (almonds, pistachios, cardamom, cashews) powder, kesar (saffron) in it and drink hot. You can feel the difference immediately.

Incorporate barley pearls in your diet as they do boost immunity.

Go low on rice, and other starchy items.

Have timely meals, every 3 hourly.

Avoid coffee.

Hope you find the tips helpful and benefit from them. I have already started with the foods I have at home. Planning to shop in the evening for the specific herbs in the evening!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Prevent weight gain in children in summer vacation

Did you know that Summer vacation itself can contribute to significant weight gain and thereby decreased performance in school for the coming year?
Improve your child's Academic Performance for the coming year by learning some effective, day to day nutrition tips. Practical tips on how you and your child can incorporate healthy eating tips together in a fun way :)

Here is a link of researches, showing why feeding your child balanced diet is important in vacation.

We are organising Nutrifuntastic events of 2 hours for parents and their children to learn about Balanced Diet in a fun way through games, puzzles, quiz etc.

Email for more details -

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Lets crack the buzz about Healthy Cooking Oils

All about Healthy Cooking Oils :)

It is important to note that all oils (cooking and dressing) are similar as per their calorie content, (each tablespoon contains approx. 120 cal) and should be used only sparingly, as part of an otherwise healthy diet, the oils do differ in parameters like methods used for oil extraction, composition and heat tolerance.The methods used for extraction would determine whether an oil is refined (extracted from oil cakes involving solvent extraction) or unrefined (cold pressed).
Unrefined oils are considered better and recommended due to the presence of a wide range of bioactive compounds, flavors and Vitamin E content, which tend to prevent rancidity in them.

Oils containing greater proportion of MUFA should be preferred over those containing PUFA. Mono Unsaturated Fatty Acids have heart protective effect. Some oils and solid fats containing Saturated Fatty Acids should also be consumed in small amounts for the effective functioning of the brain.

The nutritional properties and the usage in cooking of a few readily available cooking oils are discussed here and are listed in no specific order :-

Rice bran oil
A relatively new addition to commercial cooking oils segment, the rice bran oil (extracted from rice bran) has quite a few nutritional benefits. It contains a component called oryzanol, which has been shown to have cholesterol-lowering properties. Being rich in monounsaturated fatty acids (about 47%) and natural vitamin E, this oil qualifies as a good cooking oil, especially for high temperature cooking.

Canola Oil
This oil makes for an excellent cooking medium because of its very low saturated fat content (only 7 %- the least among all commercially available oils) and high mono unsaturated fat content along with a beneficial omega 3 fatty acids profile. It possesses a mild flavor and is quite stable, even at high temperatures, thus an ideal cooking medium with heart protecting properties.

Ground nut
Groundnut oil is a popular cooking oil, containing a balance of MUFA and PUFA with good stability at high temperatures.

Sunflower Oil
Among the most abundantly used oils, sunflower oil holds a high smoking point of around 460 degree F and is considerably high in PUFA (68%) and MUFA (21%), whilst being low in saturated fat (11%). This oil can be used for deep frying (if you must) and regular cooking as well, though only in combination with other MUFA rich oils like canola, rice bran or olive oil.

Coconut oil
It contains a high percentage of saturated fats but it is imperative to note that these saturated fats are much different from those found in animal fats like dairy products, eggs and meat. Coconut oil is rich in fatty acids such as lauric acid, which has anti- bacterial and anti- inflammatory properties. If you have been using these oils for cooking, you may continue doing so but try reducing the quantity used or use them only for select preparations.

Soybean oil
Soybean oil is rich in PUFA, containing both linoleic acid and alpha linolenic acid in the right balance. It is comparatively lower in its MUFA content (24%) and being rich in PUFA makes it unsuitable for deep frying (as PUFA gets oxidized at higher temperatures).

Mustard oil
A common cooking oil used predominantly in West Bengal has a high proportion of heart friendly MUFA and also of PUFA. However, if consumed in large amounts may have undesirable effect on our health due to their erucic cid content. Mustard oil is suitable for all kinds of cooking but again preferably in combination with other cooking oils.

Olive Oil
Though a bit more expensive than other cooking oils, olive oil has been shown to have many health benefits, especially so in the prevention of heart diseases and cancer. FDA recommends consuming at least 2 tbsp of olive oil (extra virgin and unrefined) per day to reduce risk to heart diseases. It contains a whopping 77% of MUFA (the best among all oils) and is even low in saturated fats (about 14%). However, the best benefit may be derived by replacing sources of saturated fat in the diet with olive oil, rather than just adding olive oil to your diet.
Since extra virgin, cold pressed olive oil has comparatively lower smoking point, it is best used as salad dressings or for light sautéing and stir frying.
The bottom line, which can be derived from the afore mentioned information, is that the right cooking oil would be the one that is unrefined and rich in monounsaturated fats, whilst being low in saturated fats.

I would suggest using a combination of cooking oils for different cooking preparation such as perhaps using olive oil for salads and light sautéing, canola, rice bran or groundnut oil for high temperature cooking and soybean and mustard oil for other preparations. It is best to limit your visible fat intake to around 2 tbsp per day and get a bit oil wise while oil shopping.