Archive for July, 2008

COOKING IN A VARIETY OF OILS!!

Sticking to the old ideology of completely cutting out on oils for reducing weight or in conditions of heart, are all passé. Researches have come up with conclusive results on how oils are as important a component of good health as any other nutrient. The mantra today by the experts is ‘BLENDING OILS’ rather than ‘ÉXCLUSIVE OILS’, for maximum health benefits.

Blending oil means cooking your entire day’s meal in a variety of oils, balancing them in a way, which would complement the requirements of your body and the meal being prepared. For instance not every dish can be prepared in mustard oil given to it’s pungent flavour, at the same time it has a very good balance of MUFA(monounsaturated fatty acid) and PUFA (polyunsaturated fatty acid; n-6 and n-3).

Oil blends help attain the healthy n-6 and n-3 ratio, PUFA, MUFA requirements by the body which significantly affect lowering of LDL (bad cholesterol) , triglycerides and subsequent increase in HDL(good cholesterol).

Some oils are high in n6 and others in n3. So it’s a good idea to blend oils to get optimum health benefits. Some of the ratios worked out for oil use are:

Groundnut: Soyabean :: 2:1

Mustard: Sesame ::3:1

Sunflower: Groundnut ::1:1

Sesame: Soyabean ::2:1

Dietary sources of MUFAs include olive, canola oils, avocados, peanuts, nuts and seeds. One of the main forms of PUFAs is fish oil, which have been shown to deliver considerable benefits for cardiovascular health and cognitive function. N-6 is also essential for human health, found in grains, most plant-based oils, poultry, and eggs. So, what you need to do is simply follow the guide below… mix and match the oils as per your requirements, rather than stick to the regular ones.

MUSTARD OIL

  • Good balance of MUFA and PUFA but has a pungent flavour also.
  • Goes well with fish.

CANOLA OIL

  • A favorite of nutritionist claims to have the ability to lower the risk of heart disease.
  • Very low in saturated fat and a good source of n-3 and MUFA.
  • Has the best fatty acid composition (good fat vs. bad fat) when compared to other oils

RICE BRAN OIL

  • Rich in antioxidants besides n-3 , can be combined with safflower oil and used.
  • Overall a proportionate oil with a good balance of PUFA(n-3 and n-6) and MUFA.
  • Not easily available in India though.

OLIVE OIL

  • Olive oil’s distinct flavor, combined with its portfolio of heart-healthy ingredients, makes it one of today’s most popular oils.
  • Rich in MUFA and contains anti-oxidants and polyphenols that are good for the heart.
  • Olive oil has a rich olive flavor that can complement a variety of cold and warm sauces, marinades and salad dressings.

SOYABEAN OIL

  • High in n-3 fatty acid.
  • Great source of Vit-E.
  • Used for frying and sautéing
  • Works best with Indian dishes that already include flavour spices as the oil in itself is quite bland.

SUNFLOWER OIL

  • Low in sat fat and has a good dose of Vit-E.
  • Has a very high PUFA content, can be atherogenic(potential cause of atherosclerosis) .
  • Works best when blended with n-3 rich oils (like groundnut) for a healthy mix.

To conclude, a combination of oils is for a balanced and varied diet. Whatever said and done oils still are high in fat and calories. To that end, mix it up based on taste and the dish that you’re cooking. Remember: A little goes a long way, so use only what you need. Lets start with reading the nutrition facts (label) of the oil you are consuming!!

July 8, 2008 at 11:59 am Leave a comment

THE COSMIC FOOD CONNECTIONNNN

CHAKRA….hmm… I gave up studying hindi in school in class 9th….but without a doubt, I’m sure even those who barely managed to pass Hindi would surely know that “CHAKRA” means “wheel or circle or disc” and is a word derived from Sanskrit.

What only some of you would know, we also have a total of seven chakras in our body, six of which are stacked in the form of a column of energy, extending from the base of the spine to the centre of the forehead. While the seventh chakra is beyond the physical region, each chakra is like an energy centre- a centre of activity that receives, assimilates and expresses life force energy.

  

                                

I don’t want to go on jabbering about Chakras, what I was fascinated by was that not only spirituality, meditation, ayurveda are related to the chakras, nutrition is too. Ever heard of “Spiritual Nutrition”? Well, I just came across the term and it is used to suggest that the colour of specific fruits and vegetables augments the flow of subtle energy to the respective chakras represented by these colours. (eg: red coloured foods are beneficial for the root or muladhara chakra and organs associated with this area.)

 

 

You know, the Taoist philosophy of the Chinese culture also advocates a balance in the foods we eat in terms of the yin and yang, acid and alkaline respectively. It’s no secret that some foods have a feel good factor, doing wonders to relieve stress!

Nutrition is as important as any other activity which helps keep the chakras happy eg: meditation ( hence also giving the body pleasure).Through eating or ingestion of food we feed ourselves the food borne off the earth – the first chakra element. So, atleast from now on make it a point to eat well and eat healthy (read nutritiousJ) for a stronger base!

Going beyond that, every food supposedly has certain vibration qualities which roughly correspond to the following chakra levels: 

  • Chakra One – MOOLDHARA : Meats and Vegetable proteins – most physically oriented food, protein is important for the structural tissue associated with the first chakra. Meat takes longer to digest and because it stays for long in the gut, it limits or dominates energy that might otherwise flow to the upper chakras. However, all proteins are beneficial for grounding, keeping in sync with the body. Excess nonetheless, is “tamasic”.
  •  Chakra Two – SWADHISTHANA : Liquids Mainly points to water and other liquids which help cleanse the body of toxins and unwanted salts.
  • Chakra Three – NABHI : Starches Starches (preferably from  whole grains not refined starches) are easily converted to usable energy. Simple sugars and refined starches, though quickly absorbed, could adversely affect the health of the third chakra.
  • Chakra Four – ANAHATA : Vegetables – A product of plants, vegetables trap vital sun energy and a good balance from earth,air, fire(sun) and water. These foods are a product of Cosmic and Earth processes in natural balance, reflecting the balanced nature and neutrality of the heart chakra.(In the Chinese system, these are neither yin nor yang.)
  • Chakra Five – VISHUDDHI : Fruits – Fruit energy is rapidly absorbed, leaving energy free to travel to the upper chakras. Since ripe fruits fall to the ground naturally without requiring killing of any plant to harvest them, they are placed high on the food chain.
  • Chakras Six and Seven – AGNYA and SAHASRARA – These higher chakras have to do more with mental states than bodily processes. Though certain substances like marijuana or psychedelic drugs are known to affect these centres….in relation to food, fasting is the closest to appeasing the higher chakras.

Don’t let all this send your mind into a swirl (chakkarrr ie:!)…just as every positive charge has a negative somewhere to balance it out and for every yin there’s a yang….to obtain a balance between your chakras, maintain a balance in the diet. As simple as that! J

 

References:

 Managing Stress: Principles and strategies for health and well-being – Brian Luke seaward 

Wheels of Life –users guide to the chakra system – Anodea Judith.

July 5, 2008 at 6:38 pm 2 comments


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