The dual problem facing us today is the co existence of obesity along with malnutrition. Yes they can both afflict us together. Meaning an overweight (or even a optimum weight person) can be severely malnourished and suffering from acute mineral and vitamin deficiencies.
Experts, and now increasingly the governments too seem to be recognising this paradox worldwide, and thankfully there’s awareness of this in our country too. In fact, recently to combat this issue, the Ministry of Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy (AYUSH) unveiled plans to lower malnutrition in the country by promoting the use of traditional plant-based superfoods.
There are some interesting foods on their list, all of which are not just high in micronutrients and antioxidants, but also actually help improve absorption of other nutrients too. Double bonus there!
About time everyone was made aware of these easily available foods - so that deficiency can become a thing of the past.
Here’s a primer on the plants and herbs that have made it to this superfoods list and what they deliver:
Amla (Indian Gooseberry)
The Nutrition Punch: Amla is 80% water and delivers minerals: calcium, copper, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, zinc and iron, and vitamins: carotene, B vitamins (thiamine(b1) riboflavin (b2) Niacin (B3), Pantothenic acid (B5), Vitamin B6, Folate) vitamin C and vitamin E, besides multiple antioxidants.
Grate it and add to smoothies, daals, salads or just juice it.
Sonth (Dry Ginger Powder)
The Nutrition Punch: Ground form of dried ginger roots, this traditional spice is eaten more in winters (as it is warming). It is not just a taste enhancer, rather it contains essential oils and is a fair sources of vitamins like beta carotene, vitamin C, B and minerals like potassium, calcium, zinc, iron and copper.
Blend it in warm water and sip, make ginger tea with it, add to daals.
Kachchi Haldi (Fresh Turmeric)
The Nutrition Punch: delivers pyridoxine (vitamin B6), choline, niacin, and riboflavin, vitamin C, and minerals like calcium, iron, potassium, manganese, copper, zinc, and magnesium. Also has multiple essential oils such as turmerone and zingiberene and a star component curcumin that supports better memory, focus and cognition and fights degenerative processes in the brain.
Use it for cooking, add to your tea, or just mix a little powered haldi with warm milk and a little pepper (to boost theabsorption on curcumin).
Giloy (Heart-Leaved Moonseed)
The Nutrition Punch: This lesser known medicinal herb delivers calcium, phosphorus, iron, copper, zinc and manganese and is loaded with antioxidants. It is a known immunity booster and sugar levels stabliser.
Juice the leaves and mix with amla juice and drink. Or mix the powder with warm water; have just before a meal or empty stomach.
Ashwagandha (Indian Ginseng)
The Nutrition Punch: Ashwagandha contains multiple natural antioxidants and flavonoids and that is why it has been used to treat inflammation, and as protection against infection and illness. It boosts the immune system, improves memory and promotes overall wellness. It has some iron, calcium, carotene (vitamin A) and vitamin C.
Best way to have it is as ashwagandha tea (make it by boiling the powder with water, milk and tea leaves). Or have the churan.
Moringa (Drumstick Leaves Powder)
The Nutrition Punch: Moringa 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 very few plant foods that delivers quality protein.
Fresh moringa leaves can also be cooked in the same way as spinach and other saags. Or you can add moringa powder to your smoothie or cereal, soups, and stews, or just mix it up with water and gulp it down.
The Nutrition Punch: The sulfur compounds in garlic serve as its spotlight nutrients and bestow it mustiple benefits. In addition, garlic is an excellent source of manganese and vitamin B6; a very good source of vitamin C and copper; and a good source of selenium, phosphorus, vitamin B1 and calcium.
Swallow a clove or two of raw garlic first thing in the morning. Or use it for cooking liberally.
(Kavita is a nutritionist, weight management consultant and health writer based in Delhi. She is the author of Don’t Diet! 50 Habits of Thin People (Jaico) and Ultimate Grandmother Hacks: 50 Kickass Traditional Habits for a Fitter You (Rupa).)
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