Category Archive : Food

Why Sprouting Seeds, Beans And Grains Is Beneficial?

We have heard of many types of vegetarian diets like vegan, raw and pesco-vegetarian, but did you know that sproutarianism is also a thing? A person whose diet consists mainly of sprouted seeds, fruits and raw vegetables is called a sproutarian. Though sproutarianism is quite radical, we cannot ignore the curative properties of sprouts in itself. This mighty food choice is extremely versatile as sprouts can be added to just about anything – salads, cereals, soups, raw smoothies and meals-in-a-bowl. The comfort in consuming sprouts extends to the way they can be cooked too – parboiled, lightly toasted or well-done. Raw vegans and vegetarians eat them raw, though sprouts can get contaminated with mould if not grown with utmost hygiene at the correct temperature and moisture. 

In Indian cuisine, sprouts hold an almost revered place on the plate. Our ancestors understood the raw might of this tiny sprout and its curative properties, and now many studies and research prove their hypothesis. There is no doubt that a seed contains mega doses of nutrients to feed the seedling, but these nutrients in a dry seed are not as bioavailable to the human body as the nutrients in a germinated seed. 

So, let us get down to hailing the health benefits of sprouting seeds, beans and grains. 

Helps maintain weight 

The fibre content in sprouts makes them a filling food. It reduces the craving for other foods for a longer time and thus helps maintain weight while ensuring enough nutrition in smaller quantities. Fibre is excellent for weight loss as it binds to fats as soon as they metabolise and removes those fats from the body at a greater speed. 

A mega dose of enzymes 

Plant enzymes are protein catalysts, meaning, they make the nutrition in the food bioavailable by extracting more protein, vitamins and minerals from the food to nurture the body. According to research, these enzymes are found to be 100 times more in sprouted seeds, nuts and grains than in the same raw foods. 

Helps treat anaemia 

Some sprouts are touted to be rich in folate, and some may increase the haemoglobin in the blood. There are promising studies that show the benefits of sprouts to treat anaemic disorders. They are thus also a superfood for pregnant women, as they need a whole lot more folate during pregnancy to avoid structural deformities in the fetus. 

Great for male health 

Sprouts are an excellent source of vitamin C which is responsible for healthy blood circulation to sex organs which could help erectile dysfunction in men. 

The selenium in sprouts is also known to help sperm production and motility, making it an excellent food for men. 

Anti-ageing properties 

Sprouts being rich in antioxidants makes it a super anti-ageing food. It combats free radicals that lead to premature ageing of the cells. The consumption of sprouts expedites the process of cell regeneration. They keep the skin hydrated and produce collagen, which reduces wrinkles and acne, thus keeping us more youthful. 

Aids digestion 

The insoluble fibre load in sprouts makes them easily digestible. Some enzymes in sprouts ease constipation and help keep the bowels clean. A clean digestive system is responsible for absorbing more nutrients into the body. 

Heart-healthy food 

Sprouts are a wonderful plant-based omega-3 source that helps increase the good cholesterol. High potassium levels in sprouts keep the blood pressure in a healthy range and reduce the chances of strokes due to its vitamin C content responsible for good blood circulation and levels of oxygen. This makes it an amazing heart-healthy food. 

How to sprout Mung beans: 

  1. Rinse the mung thoroughly under running water. 
  2. After the wash, add potable water to it and cover to soak for 8-10 hours. 
  3. Once they are well soaked, remove the water and rinse again thoroughly. 
  4. Drain all the water and transfer them into a container or a clean muslin cloth. 
  5. If you have used a container, cover it and keep for about 24 hours. If you are using a muslin cloth, tie a knot on top so that they are appropriately covered. 
  6. Leave the mung to sprout for about 24 hours, depending on the room temperature. 
  7. Once the mung has sprouted, wash them once again in potable water and use within a few days of refrigeration. You can also freeze them for later use. 

Let us make this mighty little food a part of our daily diet and make the most of its impressive nutritional benefits. 

Best Oils With A High Smoke Point Cooking

We might be aware of the good fats and bad fats. But did you know all variants of oil have a ‘smoke point’, the temperature at which it begins to break? It is that tipping moment from where the oil, due to heat, changes its basic properties. Many times, this change in basic characteristics could be harmful to health. Hence, an oil with a high smoke point is good for deep frying while an oil with a low one is good for sautéing and so on. In other words, it is always wise to check the variant before embarking on preparing any dish.

Here we throw light upon the same…

Coconut Oil

Once, coconut oil was India’s favourite variant of oil, especially in the South. Being rich in saturated fat earned this variant a bad name and was frowned upon till recent times. New knowledge of oils and its high smoke point catapulted this wonder in the top position, making it one of the healthiest oils to use. Though it does increase blood cholesterol, it also raises good cholesterol alongside. Having a high smoke point of more than 300-degree Fahrenheit earns this pure beauty the title ‘Thalaiva’ of oils.

Groundnut Oil

Groundnut oil has a decent blend of fats. It has a good balance of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats making it an all-purpose cooking oil. Being low in bad fats, this nature’s gift is a popular and a safe option in kitchens. Also called peanut oil, this variant contains vitamin E, making it rich in antioxidants (which protects our body from free-radical damage). This nutty flavoured oil is good for stir-fried, Chinese, Thai and such dishes.

Mustard Oil

A favourite of the East, as hardly any Bengali dishes are prepared without mustard oil! It has a distinct and pungent aroma and has an almost perfect balance of the fat composition. Additionally, this wonder is known to be antibacterial, good for the skin and heart friendly. However, it is suggested that you use it in combination with other oils. Mustard oil has a high smoke point and is good for preparing pakodas, samosa, and other fried food.

Sesame Oil

Along with a high smoke point, this ‘til oil’ has a perfect blend of MUFA and PUFA. Being low in saturated fats makes it yet another favourite on the kitchen shelf. Do note that as sesame oil is high in polyunsaturated fat, it should not be heated for long. This variant is also nutritious boasting of essential minerals like iron, calcium, zinc, and B6 vitamin too. This makes it perfect oil for sautéing, shallow frying and Asian cuisine.

Sunflower Oil

Another popular variant, this oil contains many health benefits and our favourite vitamin, vitamin E. The wonder has a good blend of PUFA and MUFA but includes more polyunsaturated fats than any other vegetable oil (which we regularly use for our cooking). This makes this oil good for our heart. Sunflower oil also helps our immune system thus boosts our energy. It has a high smoke point, making it a go-to oil while frying samosa, pakodas, chips, etc.

Rice Bran Oil

Yet another oil gaining grounds is rice bran oil. Processed from bran of rice grain, this variant has a chemical ‘oryzanol’, making it anti for a lot of harmful effects on our health such as anti-cancerous, anti-diabetic, anti-thyroid and so on.  As it has good amounts of MUFA and PUFA, this oil gets a stamp for being right for cholesterol. It is packed in vitamin E and this is a powerful antioxidant. Rice bran oil is good for frying as it has a high smoke point. Besides other sterling properties, it is good for our skin. It is no wonder then that nutritionists and other health authorities consider it one of the healthiest oils.

Olive Oil and Extra Virgin Olive Oil

If you are an olive oil fan, then this spells happy news for you. A gift from the Mediterranean, olive oil is known to be a ‘jigri dost’ of our heart and is great for the skin too. It contains monounsaturated fats, believed to help in lowering risk of heart diseases, cholesterol and also breast cancer. Extra virgin olive oil is also a good source of antioxidants.  It’s active component ‘polyphenols’ is considered good for heart health. This variant is less acidic than olive oil, allowing you to drizzle it over salads and enjoy.

Footnotes:

  • Some oils raise the sugar levels. Therefore, all those who have diabetes need to consult their physician as to which one they can consume.
  • No single oil is ideal, no variant is perfect. Hence, it is wise to keep changing cooking oils so that you get the nourishment from other oils as well as a well-rounded variety of Essential Fatty Acids. Cook different cuisines like Bengali (mustard), Rajasthani (sesame), regular (groundnut), Italian (Olive) and so on. Have fun.
  • Moderation is the operative word while using oil.
  • Your cooking oil should have a healthy balance of fats. As each of us is different and our families have a medical history, figure out with your physician which cooking oil is good for you and your family.

By the end of it, you can opt for one that suits your needs the most.

In The Mood For Food?

While “Good food, good mood” is a commonly used phrase, how often do we ponder over the real meaning behind it? Factors such as stress, improper sleep, nutritional deficiencies, and mood disorders influence our mood. However, it is a lesser-known fact that the impact of nutrition and general well-being on mood depicts a relationship between the food, gut health, and brain.

Additionally, research has shown that a typical inflammatory diet — which comprises sugary drinks, fried food, processed meat, high-fat dairy, and sweets — is associated with an increased risk of depression and poor mental health. While the link between diet, depression, stress, and anxiety focuses on inflammation in the brain, the role of the immune system in the development of importance, and the disturbances in thinking and behaviour are associated with depression and other health issues.

Blood sugar fluctuations and nutritional imbalances cause alterations in mood and emotional well-being. Therefore, it is imperative to understand how unhealthy eating patterns affect our mood and psychological well-being:

Skipping meals: Skipping meals, especially breakfast, is associated with lower blood sugar levels. It results in leaving you feeble and fatigued.

Eliminating an entire food group: Reduction in the variety of foods in the diet is unlikely to provide the essential nutrients the body requires. A decrease in the levels of iron, zinc, magnesium, Vitamin B, Vitamin D, and omega-3 fatty acids exacerbate mood and decrease energy.

Consumption of excessive refined carbohydrates: Excessive intake of unhealthy, processed carbohydrates like white bread and pastries are likely to fluctuate and toss the blood sugar level rapidly. It can lead to low energy and irritability. 

While these are some instances of the effect of unhealthy eating patterns on mood and emotional well-being, it is essential to understand the impact of an excellent nutritional diet on mental health. Here are some healthy changes you can adopt to enhance your eating and support your mental well-being:

Eating at set intervals throughout the day: Decreased blood sugar levels are likely to make you feel exhausted, irked, and depressed. Therefore, eating regularly and opting for foods that release energy steadily will help to keep your sugar levels steady. You can incorporate slow-release energy foods like rice, oats, pasta, whole grain bread, cereals, nuts, seeds, etc. Furthermore, avoid foods that are likely to fluctuate and toss your blood sugar level like sweets, biscuits, sugary drinks, and alcohol.

Drink plenty of fluids: Staying hydrated is extremely important. Dehydration is likely to affect your concentration power or the ability to think clearly. It is advisable to drink between 6–8 glasses of fluid every day, especially water.

Supervising your caffeine intake: Caffeine is a stimulant that spikes your energy. However, caffeine might make you feel anxious, depressed, give you withdrawal symptoms if you stop suddenly, and disrupt your sleep (especially if you consume it before bed). The consumption of items that contain caffeine like tea, coffee, chocolate, cola, and other manufactured energy drinks should be avoided. If possible, opting for decaffeinated versions is preferable as they might help with feeling better quite quickly.

Consuming the right fats: Human brain requires fatty acids such as omega-3 and omega-6 to function well. You can get your good fats from oily fish, poultry, nuts, olive and sunflower oils, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, avocados, milk, yoghurt, cheese, and eggs. Additionally, refrain from consuming items rich in trans fats or partially hydrogenated oils as the unhealthy fat in them will affect your mood or your physical health in the long run.

Following a healthy eating plan will keep you active and help you function properly. While proper nutrition is imperative for emotional well-being, it is not a substitute for appropriate medical care and treatment. Therefore, in case of any concern, consult your medical professional and seek assistance immediately.