Prof. R.D. Gupta
Leafy vegetables : It is not possible to fulfill one’s nutrition requirements one’s nutritional requirements without having vegetables especially leafy ones in the diet. Leafy vegetables mostly consist of spinach, fenugreek leaves, drumstick, asparagus, lettuce, broccoli etc; which are available in abundance and constitute a good source of fibre besides vitamins. Main vitamins present in leafy vegetables are vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K and folic acid. Leafy vegetables are also a vision protector and furnish with four essential minerals viz; calcium, magnesium, iron and potassium. Always try to include one of the aforesaid leafy vegetables in diet and make darker the better.
Summer vegetables : Pumpkins are rich in beta carotene, calcium, potassium and fibre. In traditional medicines pumpkins are known to possess cooling effects and diuretic in nature, and as such, these are good for stomach upset. Yellow pumpkin is a good source of soluble fibre, which assists to fight constipation.
Bottle gourd (ghiya) and squash (tinda) contain iron and some amount of calcium. Bitter gourd (karela) possesses good quantity of iron and vitamin C, and has proved in preventing diabetes. Lady’s finger (bhindi) has good amount of calcium, folic acid and vitamin C. It is also good source of soluble fiber, and is very good for checking blood sugar levels.
Whole grains food : Whole grains food have up to 90 per cent more fibre, and essential nutrients and vitamins than refined food grains. These food grains assist to reduce cholesterol. They are also super rich in vitamins and minerals. Consuming whole grains food like wheat, barely etc; in daily diet ensure the intake of glucose immediately, which is important ingredients for brain to function perfectly as well as source of energy to various parts of the body. Whole wheat bread and pasta, and brown rice are high in essential nutrients and do not contribute to weight gain. Hence one should start for at least one day with whole wheat cereal or a whole wheat bread toast. Oats porridge or local style upma is a great breakfast option, home baked oatmeal cookies make for a mid meal snack.
Powder oatmeal and blend with milk/yoghurt for thick pan cakes topped off with dried or cut fruit and honey. It can also be mixed with dosa batter or use as dosa battar.
Nuts : Always make nuts as an essential component in the diet as they are an excellent source of proteins and vitamins especially B and E. They have proved beneficial in fighting heart disease and cancer. Although nuts are high in calories and fat yet their fat is the heart healthy kind. Nuts (chilgoza), walnut (akhroat), pumpkin and gourd seeds (coarse charmagaz) and cucumber seeds (fine charmagaz). Sesame and linseed seeds/ flaxseeds also perform the same functions as the aforesaid nuts do.
Little nuts, especially almonds are rich in antioxidants and also contain omega – 3 fatty acids. Almonds are rich in protein, healthy oils, fibre, vitamin E, magnesium and heart favourable mono and polysaturated and help to check cholesterol level. Eating a few almonds every day can be absolutely worth for them who are able to devote them, though one needs to keep an eye on the calories one consumes. About a quarter cup i.e 20-25 almonds, cashews, kernel of walnuts are good enough in a week. A handful of almonds possess 164 calories and 7g of protein which help to control what one eats. Almonds also help growing children in developing strong bones. A study done by scholars from University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, West Chester University and Loma Linda University of California (all in the US) and published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition also confirm that almond can control diabetes if are consumed regularly.
Berries : Berries are high in fibre content and help to curb weight. They have more protective plant antioxidants than almost any other food. Antioxidants not only lower disease risks but also assist to prevent memory loss. They are rich in vitamins particularly vitamin C. Numerous studies have shown that berries offer great protection against heart disease stroke, cancer and many other diseases.
Among various kinds of berries like Indian goose berries (amla), black berries and blueberries, the last one top the antioxidant fruit in the benefits listed above. Besides, other health benefits, blueberries help to prevent high blood pressure, macular degeneration and brain damage leading to Alzheimer’s disease. Blueberry is a beautiful fruit rich not only in antioxidants but also contains vitamins which help to combat the loss of cognitive abilities that is known to deteriorate with growing age. Studies have shown that blueberries prove to be excellent in enhancing learning capacity/memory.
A cup of blueberries has 81 calories and 4g of fibre, whereas blackberries of a single cup contain 74 calories and a whopping 10 g of fibre. Raspberries contain 60 calories in one of its cup with 8g of fibre. One cup of sliced strawberries has 50 calories and 4g of fibre.
Yoghurt : Low fat or plain yoghurt is a great source of protein, calcium and vitamins. It has also healthy bacteria i.e; Lactobacilli which can fight diseases. The amino acids that yoghurt contains result in the formation of substances that are known to deal with stress and also improve memory.