Posts tagged ‘nutrition’

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November 28, 2008 at 7:26 pm 2 comments


Chocolate …the word immediately allures my taste buds  n my mouth starts watering  so would be the case with  almost all chocolate lovers. Here is a small revelation of  few facts as to why chocolate lovers should not feel guilty for their addiction to ummmm…CHOCOLATE


  • Chocolate stimulates the secretion of endorphins, producing a pleasurable sensation. These pleasurable experiences stimulate the body to produce a powerful antibody called secretory immuno globulin A, which strengthens the immune system.
  • The Cocoa bean is said to  contain 50% fat.Since it is a plant poduct  cocoa butter and chocolate do not contain cholestrol and hence there is has an edge over animal fats.( Mind you…this doesn’t mean excess of it will be beneficial) 
  • Cocoa beans are rich in antioxidants -contain polyphenols (similar to those found in wine)  which are health beneficial. These compounds are called flavonoids and include catechins, epicatechins, and procyandins. The flavinoids also reduce the blood’s ability to clot and thus reduces the risk of stroke and heart attacks
  • If you’re tired, simply reach for a chocolate. Chocolate contains a neurotransmitter, serotonin, which acts as an anti-depressant which helps in relieving PMS Symptoms (works on me;)), while its other properties also have a stimulating effect. 
  • Chocolate is not high in caffeine. Theobromine is a very mild stimulant with a mild diuretic action (increases the production of urine).
  • Cocoa also contains essential minerals like calcium, magnesium, potassium,zinc,copper and iron. and vitamins too.

Well all these properties hold true for unprocessed, unsweetened dark chocolate.What we get in the market is usually the sweetened variety or chocolate with other additives like milk fats and solids, emulsifiers, artificial flavours, caramel,nuts etc which leaves the original chocolate with only 15-20% of the cocoa solids. Nevertheless, even sweetened dark chocolate is better than its counterpart ( milk chocolates) .So it is better to consume dark chocolate with hot or cold milkJ and try out making chocolate at home that contain a higher % of dark chocolate!! Oh and for the Cadbury lovers, heres a piece of goodnews…the new “Cadbury lite”  with No added sugar has recently been launched to thrill your tastebuds!



August 28, 2008 at 1:17 am 2 comments

Goodbye Gluten!!

 Everyone is aware of food allergies and intolerances, how people develop sudden body reactions on consumption of certain foods. But the first time I heard of celiac disease from a friend, I laughed! How could someone be allergic to “Wheat”?? One of our staples…it’s not just about being allergic to rotis but also sooji, pasta,noodles, cakes, breads, biscuits, namkeens, practically everything…I actually couldn’t get myself to believe that something like wheat-protein allergy even existed.

 But now I know better, not only is the prevalence of celiac disease on a rise, it also differs from wheat protein allergy as the latter is a result of immune reaction to wheat protein. Though the symptoms are similar to those in celiac disease they persist only for a short time after wheat consumption, while in Celiac disease allergy is to the “gliadin fraction” of “gluten”, a protein present in wheat, rye (not mustard, but a cereal), barley and oats as well. Gluten sensitivity results in atrophy (or wasting) of the intestinal mucosa, flattening of the intestinal villi and hence inefficient absorption of all nutrients.

 Diarrhoea, Frequent and abnormal stools, abdominal bloating are common symptoms of celiac disease (also known as celiac sprue/ gluten enteropathy/ Non tropical sprue). Malabsorption of nutrients, steatorrhoea or fat malabsorption and at times lactose intolerance adversely as a result of celiac disease, affect a person’s nutritional status. It is specially detrimental to children where if undiagnosed, the child is unable to reach his/ her optimum growth potential.

 One has to be totally committed in this disorder, to beware of any kind of unintentional adulteration with gluten. Infact separate vessels should be used for the celiac patient when cooking for the whole family. Reading of nutritional labels is also a must, for eg: one may think that health drinks can be used to substitute for energy, but they may contain malt which is a barley product, thickeners or emulsifiers or stabilizers used in processed foods may also contain gluten! Even soya sauce contains gluten! One must be on guard when eating out. The “If in doubt, leave it out!” rule of the Celiac society of Delhi, definitely stands true.

 Life without gluten is difficult but not impossible…. There are many other substitutes like rice, corn, millets, amaranth, potato/sago/tapioca/arrowroot starch, soya, other pulses, vegetables, non-vegetarian foods, milk (unless lactose intolerant), nuts etc. Alcohols which do not contain malt, can also be consumed. It’s important to read food labels to be sure of what goes into the product. Nowadays, many brands of foods have started coming out with Gluten free products. For more information on Celiac disease and how to combat it, the site will be of great help.

Oh and if you’re worried about having to give up all cakes, biscuits etc, you’ll be happy to know that Wengers at Connaught place, New Delhi makes gluten free cakes on special request, I’m sure that’ll be possible at other Bakeries too. So there you go, life always brings solutions with problems, you just have to be vigilant enough to sense the solutions and embrace them!

August 25, 2008 at 9:35 pm 3 comments


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.


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


  • 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


  • 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’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.


  • 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.


  • 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


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



 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


Travel is a passion for a few, and work for a lot of people, whatever may be the cause it is an inevitable part of our lives now. A lot of us face problems while traveling and one of them is sticking to your diet or healthy eating habits.

So I thought maybe I could take a peek into the matter and these are the few solutions I came up with which don’t sound that difficult and impossible –

  • One could carry fresh fruits, salads, salad dressings, roasted snacks, sandwiches(whole bread), veg rolls etc
  • Energy bars, nuts, raisins etc if you know food could be a problem for long hours.
  • Skip the drive through’s and dhabas and go to a restaurant – menu available so more options of light food.
  • Avoid the excess ghee and oily food as make you lethargic and sleepy which could be a concern if you are driving
  • Avoid excessive carbohydrate and sugar products for the same reason
  • Don’t miss the vegetable and fruits vendors when you cross one as gives you a fresh healthy option to dig into (cucumber, radish, carrot, all fruits – don’t forget your travel knife).
  • Look for a grocery store, as these days many healthy snacks and ready to eat foods available here.
  • In restaurants look for the baked, grilled and completely skip the cream sauces, au gratin, batter dip, oil and buttered portion.
  • Resist your temptation to have the samosas, kachauri, jalebi, tikki, aalo chaat etc, the amount of transfatty acids you put in your body is beyond repair.
  • Choose sandwiches, salads, roasted and grilled options instead.
  • SKIP THE FRIES which accompany almost every burger, sandwich etc nothing but starch, oil and calories ask for a salad serving instead.
  • Order salads and soups, as they fill your stomach with healthier choices.
  • Liquids in Order of preference– water/fresh juice, lemonade, ginger ale etc, canned juice, sweetened juices. Aerated drinks simply should not be an option.
  • Do not consume alcohol if driving, puts yours and others lives at risk
  • Do not order side dishes and more than required, so as to avoid overeating.
  • Skip the buffet and order a-la-carte (reduces your portion size).
  • SHARING IS CARING, so invite a partner for your meal and do not order extra. 😉 (My personal way).

Last but not the least,


June 25, 2008 at 8:01 pm Leave a comment



Breakfast – first meal of the day that we generally skip is really the most important one. But do we really give it its importance ??. We are so busy in our fast paced life-style that  we don’t realize the benefits of the breakfast. So here are some very basic facts about the essential meal that all of should know and would definitely help you give your day a kick start…

·           Breakfast eaters are able to lose weight faster than others, as eating regularly each morning boosts your body’s metabolism.

·           A regular meal every morning ensures that you will not binge at lunch — your stomach will already be half full.

·           As compared to those who skip a morning meal, breakfast eaters are more alert and work more efficiently — their brains receive the required nutritional energy at the start of each day.

·           Children who eat a good breakfast each morning are known to perform better at school and are less hyperactive.

  •  While fruit juice is considered an essential part of a good breakfast, eating a whole fruit is a better idea — it will provide you with less calories and more fibre, which may be lost in the juice.
  • Statistics  show that the maximum number of heart attacks occur in the morning, sometime before noon. This is because blood clotting cells in the morning are stickier before breakfast, and the longer you go without breakfast, the higher your chances of having a heart attack. In fact, a study performed by Belloc & Breslow show that people who eat a wholesome breakfast have less than half the risk of early death.             

  • Regular breakfast helps build immunity of the body.

·         It also reduces fatigue and gives you renewed energy – which is badly needed by children, to help them cope with school, homework and play, and by parents, to help them handle their busy lifestyle.

Keep your breakfast simple but don’t skip it all together. Have cornflakes, wheat flakes, oats or porridge. You could even have a couple of   diet khakhras, murmura and chana. [cs2] These will serve as your cereal. Get your protein from a glass of fat free milk, a boiled egg or even a cup of moong sprouts.Last but not the least, have a bowl of fresh fruit or a fruit juice (not canned or packaged ones) for that much needed fibre.



June 22, 2008 at 9:55 am 3 comments

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