The right foods are the bedrock of a healthy diet. Some deliver goodness in abundance and are thus rightly called superfoods.
Identifying and incorporating them in our diet has become almost a necessity in today's toxic lifestyle, diseases and virus-ridden times.
On the World Food Day this year, let’s acknowledge some Indian superfoods that are now giving a stiff competition to foreign superfoods. This may serve as a reminder to begin incorporating them in our own diets.
Moringa, made from the leaves of the drumstick tree, has been a part of our traditional diet for ages.
Why? It is a rich source of vitamins, minerals, and contains significant amounts of vitamin A, B, (folic acid, pyridoxine and riboflavin), C, and E, calcium, manganese, magnesium, potassium, phosphorous, zinc and protein. It delivers all eight essential amino acids our body needs and is actually one of the very few plant foods that contain all eight.
Plus, it is a natural energy booster, and is loaded with potent antioxidants that are anti-inflammatory and free radical terminators.
Most important: it is now acknowledged as a promising stress-fighting super herb, and has the nutrition world excited all over.
Even though it looks a little weird, it is important to develop a taste for this fibrous food because of the nutrition punch it delivers.
Why? jackfruit is rich in vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, potassium, iron, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, magnesium, besides giving some protein and lots of fibre. Plus, it is loaded with lignans, isoflavones and saponins which have anti-cancer and anti-aging properties;
Most important: it is one of the few foods rich in the micro mineral copper that helps keep the thyroid gland healthy.
India produces nearly 100 percent of the world's turmeric, and consumes 90 percent of the total amount produced. But it is being lapped up by the West too now, ever since it has become researchers' delight.
Why? It works as a tonic to relieve congestion and soothe headaches and cough. That is why it has been a bedrock of ayurvedic remedies since ancient times and has helped umpteen people keep respiratory distress at bay.
Plus, it is our heart's friend and has proven effective in killing cancer cells and there is some evidence that it may help prevent cancer from occurring too.
Most important: Curcumin in turmeric also helps keep depression away.
This chameleon food that takes on the flavor of the seasoning added to it, is a great way to satisfy the munching craving and is gaining popularity worldwide. Thanks to the health benefits it delivers.
Why? They are gluten free, a good source of protein and fibre and are a low GI (glycemic Index) food, that means they get digested slowly in the body and pack in lots of antioxidants that help prevent inflammation and are anti ageing.
Most important: Ayurveda and Unani medicine practitioners consider it an aphrodisiac and a boon for reproductive health.
There was a time not so long ago when coconut oil was discarded by nutritional pundits as being the worst kind of fat due to its high saturated fat content. But today, it is feted as a superfood world over with Hollywood biggies touting its wonders for health and beauty.
Why? The kind of fat it has - the medium chain saturated triglycerides (MCTs) have been shown to go directly to the liver where they are rapidly metabolized and are less likely thus to be stored as fat. Research also suggests MCTs actually help reduce appetite and decrease our calorie intake, so might just work like a weight loss tool.
Most important: lauric acid, a type of MCT that coconut oil has (it contains 16 per cent of lauric acid) has been shown to help bring the bad cholesterol LDL down and bring the good one (HDL) up.
(Kavita Devgan is a nutritionist, weight management consultant, and health writer based in Delhi. She is the author of The Don't Diet Plan: A no-nonsense guide to weight loss, Fix it with Food, Ultimate Grandmother Hacks, and Don’t Diet! 50 Habits of Thin People)