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For the Green Revolution inside YOU!

Ten ways to make your kids eat more fruits & veggies

I am a mother of a four year old girl who has been a picky eater since the time she ate her first morsel of solid food. Some days were a breeze, but some were bad and most were downright miserable. Being a doctor, I know how important healthy diet and nutrition is, but children are not born with the wisdom of the benefits of healthy eating. It is a gradual learning process, for both children and parents alike. We as parents are well aware of the snowball effect a bad diet can have on our bodies and lives.

Making your child eat a healthy meal can be perplexing and frustrating for many parents. I have met many parents who are petrified at the thought of meal times. I have seen friends shedding tears and lamenting about their children’s eating habits. I was overwrought when my daughter turned picky and gave me a tough time. Children also become anxious when they see or hear that they are the cause of stress in their parent’s life.

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Being on the edge or hyper does not work with handling kids especially those who are picky with their food. First we have to understand that it is a phase that children are going through and they will eventually overcome it with time, love and support from the parents. Giving up and yielding to our children’s demands is the common path we take most times and we feel frustrated and helpless when it comes to parenting.

However, We must try not being too hard on kids and reminding ourselves to enjoy their childhood with matching playfulness and optimism. I attained nirvana when I saw my picky eater improving tremendously over time. Let’s pause and ask ourselves this question: “Is it worth the effort to cajole, negotiate and bribe our children to try to eat healthy foods (including vegetables) or should we give in to their comfort foods (e.g. Milk, formula, Junk)?”

The answer is a definite “yes”. There are a million reasons why incorporating vegetables in your little one’s diet is so important, but if you are not sure yet then below are the four most compelling reasons for you to ensure that your child eats at least 5 servings of fruits & vegetables a day:

It Aids growth
Fruits and vegetables are packed with essential vitamins and minerals, fibre, photo chemicals which are vital for our growth.

Prevents obesity
We all love the look of chubby kids, we always hear “aww, aren’t they are just adorable cotton balls”. However, this is not healthy in the long run. Incidences of obesity has doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in the last 30 years. Obese youth are at a greater risk of cardiovascular diseases such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol. There is also an increased risk of suffering from pre-diabetes (a condition in which blood glucose levels indicate a high risk of developing of diabetes). They are prone to bone and joint problems, sleep apnoea and social and psychological problems such as stigmatization and poor self-esteem. A good intake of fruits and vegetables can reduce the risk of obesity amongst children greatly.

Immunity boosters
Being absent from school is very common among children below the age of five due to recurrent illness, frequent visits to paediatricians and repeated courses of antibiotics begin to take a toll on the overall immunity of the children. Vegetables & fruits are natural immunity boosters. Children who consume 5 servings of fruits and vegetables per day reduce the risk of catching infections from school.

Better digestion
One of the most difficult things as parents is to witness your kids suffering from pain and discomfort caused due to constipation. Children who are on a meat based diet with very low or no servings of fruits and vegetables are more likely to suffer from irregular bowel movement as compared to children who eat a good amount of fruits and vegetables. By increasing their intake it could reduce constipation and irregular bowel movements significantly

I hope you are convinced. If yes, then here are the ten simple ways to incorporate fruits & vegetables in your child’s diet

1. Try similar foods
Try to be slow and consistent when introducing new food in your child’s diet plan. While introducing a new fruit or vegetable, try something that tastes or looks similar to what your child likes. E.g.Sweet potato fries instead of French fries. Instead of crackers, try whole wheat or multi-grain versions Whole wheat pizzas with a variety of vegetable toppings instead of regular pizza. Do not force, terrorise or threaten children to empty their plates, this will eventually lead to eating disorders in children as they will associate meal times with negativity.

2. Eating at home helps
Planning meals ahead of time and eating more often at home helps a lot. Resorting to restaurant food and ready to eat meals is a no brainer but the serving size is typically several times more than a healthy serving at home. According to research, a restaurant meal often contains 18 percent more calories than home cooked food. Do not visit fast food joints which entice children with toys. This leads to impulse eating amongst them.

3. Take Lead
As an adult, set an example yourself for your little ones to emulate. Stop eating foods that you don’t want your kids to eat. If you are not the primary caregiver of your child, instruct and educate your nannies to serve only healthy foods to your little ones. De-clutter your kitchen of all the junk food, discard the energy drinks from the fridge, and get rid of all the mouth-watering bakery items, chocolates and crisps from the cupboards. Simply refuse to visit your favourite bakeries and dessert joints. Fostering healthy eating habits from early childhood is gratifying. However, there is no harm in treating your child once in a week with a small portion of their favourite foods.

4. Variety is the spice of life
Kids get weary and bored of eating the same food again and again. Introduce a “Rainbow Variety” of fruits and vegetables and ensure you don’t repeat the same food in two consecutive meals. Making a schedule and charting out the meal plan in advance is essential so that we don’t resort to unplanned treats. Planning the previous night for the next day is elementary in reducing the stress in the kitchen. Make a repertory of foods that the child likes and repeating it every week is worthwhile.

5. Sneak in vegetables in their regular diets
Incorporate vegetable purees to pasta sauces, add vegetables to their pilaf’s, dish out stuffed parathas, include a variety of vegetables like carrots, sweet potato, beet root and fruits like strawberry, banana etc. in their cakes and muffins.

6. Introduce rewards
Record every successful intake of vegetables in a reward chart and encourage every small victory with a prize (e.g stickers, bubble mixtures, finger paints, water colours, a new book or toy).

7. Role Play
Young kids love “pretend play”. Why not encourage them to become chefs for some time, run restaurants, cafe and supermarkets where they can serve healthy snacks.

8. Increase engagement & participation
In a safe environment, involve older children while cooking meals. Involve younger children making shopping lists and lead in grocery shopping. In this way you are helping them to learn to differentiate between good produce and unhealthy stuff. Stay away from the aisles selling candies, cakes, crisps, juices etc. Growing herbs & vegetables in your backyard and involving your child in gardening it can go a long way in encouraging your child to eat healthy produce.

9. Creative presentation leading to fun mealtimes
Making meal times a fun filled activity goes a long way in promoting healthy eating. Replicate the presentation of restaurant food at home. Children are enticed by creative plating of food. Creating their favourite characters like teddy’s, dinosaurs, cars with fruits and vegetables is time consuming, but worth the effort. Arrange play dates and picnics with other parents and provide healthy menus with vegetables as salads and soups.

10. Creative storytelling
“Talk” to your children about vegetables. Discuss its benefits. Girls from a very tender age become aware of their looks and admire all forms of beauty. Their world revolves around fairies, princesses & magic. Why not tell them an interesting story that eating vegetables will make them healthy and beautiful (e.g. Carrots are good for vision, spinach and green leafy vegetables for long hair etc.) Boys are packed with energy and talk to them about their superheroes eating healthy vegetables to stay strong. Why not create your own character for your kids? A “MangoMan” or “Princess of Brocolli” is not a bad thing if it gets your kids to think of veggies in a positive way.

There are no pre-set rules for healthy parenting. It is a journey which we all need to undertake. There will be days filled with joy and some with difficulties. Let’s try to give the best we can to our children.

All the best!

Best Breakfast for Weight Loss and Long Term Health

The breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It is the first dose of nourishment that the body gets after a long wait (8-12 hrs) and it provides us with energy to meet the challenges of the day. Given the long wait, breakfast is the perfect meal where we can make it as nutritious as possible. The best breakfast is the one which provides you with an awesome dose of both macro (carbs, protein, fibre, fat) and micro nutrients (vitamins, minerals, etc). It also should enable fast natural weight loss by keeping you feel fuller for a longer time and stop you from craving for more until before lunch.

So with this in mind, I explored and experimented with different breakfast options recommended by many but could not find something where I can say “Yeah! that’s an awesome breakfast”. So I started going through lots of materials to discover the best breakfast for weight loss in the world. It took many months but in the end I was able to create one and I am very excited to share it with you. Let’s take a look, shall we?

Best Breakfast for Weight Loss

The Criteria for The Best Breakfast for Weight loss

Given the challenges of the modern world, I identified 15 different criteria a breakfast must satisfy for it to be the best. The best breakfast should:

  1. Provide us with good amount of energy
  2. Provide us with good dose of protein, fibre and good fat
  3. Provide a good dose of micro nutrients (vitamins, minerals and antioxidants)
  4. Enable natural weight loss
  5. Be easy to prepare
  6. Be tasty to everyone (including kids)
  7. Easy to digest with little effort
  8. Allow using ingredients creatively
  9. Stop us from craving for junk foods (e.g. chocolates)
  10. Be free from artificial sugar
  11. Be free from processed foods
  12. Be flexible to vary its ingredients
  13. Be gluten-free or really low gluten
  14. Enable us meeting our daily target of fruits and vegetables
  15. Be vegan (so that everyone can eat)

These huge list of requirements ruled out many of the breakfasts we eat every day like cereals (main reason – high on artificial sugar) and breads (main reason – gluten content). Out of over 50 breakfasts I tried and read about only one met the criteria. What it might be? I hope you are curiously wondering. let’s take a look.

So what are the ingredients of the Best Breakfast?

Below is the list of ingredients which will be used in our best breakfast. As I have come up with the recipe, I have named it Choco Fruity Porridge. However, the don’t get mislead by the name, there is much more to it.

Oat Bran is the best grain among all the grains and hence it makes sense to use it in the best breakfast and we are doing so. Alternatives: Rolled oats or cereal flakes which are low on sugar.

Non Dairy Milk like Almond or Soy Milk. Alternatives: Water, Dairy milk. Use of water will reduce the taste slightly but it is still a good alternative. Dairy milk is not the best or recommended option. However, you can use it if you prefer it badly.

High fibre and low calorie fruits like Apple, Kiwi, Pear, Blueberries. You can choose any combination of fruits as you like but keep an eye on each of their calories because we don’t want to eat too much in one go. Any fruit with less than 100 calories per 100 grams is a good option. This rules out fruits like banana and avocado (these are great fruits and you can still use them once in a while).

High Fibre Vegetables with a sweet taste like Sweet Potato, Carrot, Frozen Peas, Frozen non-GMO Corn. Many people get turned off by use of vegetables in a breakfast meal which includes fruits as well. However, as we will be blending the sweetish vegetables with fruits to make a fine paste, this option is not as radical as it sounds. This concept of mixing vegetables with fruits is not new – lot of retailers are bringing out smoothies with such combinations all around the world. More about benefits of this later on.

Nuts almond/cashew/pistachio pieces and flaxseed powder. Flaxseed must be a critical ingredient as it is the best seed out there. You can also use other nuts and seeds as you prefer. I have taken almonds as an example here.

Cocoa Powder – This probably is the magic ingredient of this breakfast. It is not only the most nutrition rich food for fibre and protein, it also provide the chocolate flavour needed to attract kids. As this is the only ingredient which makes the dark chocolate healthy adding this to your breakfast removes the need for you to buy a (dark) chocolate ever again. Yay! Happy Teeth!

Here is a guide for ingredients and its quantities

Ingredients Quantity Measure
Oat Bran 40 grams ¾ of a glass
Almond Milk 200 ml 1 Glass
Apple 100 grams 1 Small Apple
Kiwi 75 grams 1 Kiwi
Blueberries 20 grams 15 blueberries
Sweet Peas 40 grams 1 Cup
Carrot 110 grams 1 Large Carrot
Flaxseed Powder 10 grams 1 Spoonful
Broken Almond 10 grams 5 Almonds
Cocoa Powder 20 grams 2 Spoonfuls

 

The Recipe of the Breakfast

OK, We now have everything we need. Let us go ahead and make the breakfast.

Step 1: Heat the milk in the microwave or on a hob for few minutes.

Step 2: Once it is sufficiently hot, pour it into a relatively big vessel (big enough to mixing all ingredients later on).

Step 3: Add the oat bran (or whichever grain flakes) into it and mix it slowly to remove all the lumps and keep it aside for 15-30 minutes. Keep it longer if you want the mix to be thicker.

Step 4:  Cut apple, carrot, kiwi into a small pieces and grind them along with heated frozen peas in to a paste in a blender. (Note: if you use normal peas you might have to boil them before blending)

Step 5: Mix the fruit veg paste, flaxseed and cocoa powder into the oat bran paste and mix well.

Step 6: Add the blueberry and broken nuts on top and your breakfast is ready. You don’t need to blend those fruits/veggies/nuts which you like more than others and want to feel them as you eat. Note: For small kids without teeth, you can add these to the blender as well.

Choco Fruity Porridge

Why is it the Best Breakfast in the world? – The Benefits

Sure, there are a lot of good ingredients going into the breakfast but we need to look more in detail to understand why it is the best. First, let us look at the breakdown of the macro nutrients along with respective glycemic load for 100 grams and also for a typical meal.

Nutrition Profile of the breakfast

Let us look at macro nutrients in each of the item added to our breakfast. For this article, I am going to take the nutritional information from commercially available products so that it is easier to relate to and buy similar products from your local market. You can click on each of the below product (name) to know the product I have used. The glycemic load information was sourced from nutritiondata.org

Macro nutrients in 100 grams
Ingredients Quantity Calories Carbs Protein Fibre Fat saturated Fat Sugar GL
Oat Bran

100

369

47

15.1

15.6

7

1.6

1

16

Almond Milk

100 (ml)

24

3

0.5

0.2

1.1

0

3

0

Frozen Peas

100

68

7.5

4.9

6

0.7

0.1

4.9

5

Carrots

100

41

10

1

3

0

0.1

5

3

Apple

100

54

11.8

0.4

1.8

0.1

0

11.8

3

Kiwi

100

55

10.6

1.1

1.9

0.5

0.2

10.3

4

Blueberries

100

68

14.5

0.7

2.4

0.3

0.1

10

4

Flaxseed Powder

100

559

5.6

19.6

18.1

47

6.1

2.8

0

Almonds

100

592

9.5

21.2

12.2

49.4

3.7

3.9

4

Cocoa Powder

100

415

14

23

33

21

15

2

5

Source: Products available on Tesco UK website. Click on each name to know product details.

However, we will not be having 100 grams of each and hence need to look into how much each of these contribute in a typical breakfast.

Macro nutrients in a Medium-Large Adult Meal
Ingredients Quantity Calories Carbs Protein Fibre Fat Saturted Fat Sugar
Oat Bran 40.00 60.00 18.80 6.04 6.24 2.80 0.64 0.40
Almond Milk 200.00 48.00 6.00 1.00 0.40 2.20 0.00 6.00
Frozen Peas 40.00 27.20 3.00 1.96 2.40 0.28 0.04 1.96
Carrots 110.00 45.10 11.00 1.10 3.30 0.00 0.11 5.50
Apple 100.00 54.00 11.80 0.40 1.80 0.10 0.00 11.80
Kiwi 75.00 41.25 7.95 0.83 1.43 0.38 0.15 7.73
Blueberries 20.00 13.60 2.90 0.14 0.48 0.06 0.02 2.00
FlaxSeed Powder 10.00 55.90 0.56 1.96 1.81 4.70 0.61 0.28
Almonds 10.00 59.20 0.95 2.12 1.22 4.94 0.37 0.39
Cocoa Powder 20.00 83.00 2.80 4.60 6.60 4.20 3.00 0.40
Total 435.00 546.45 66.71 22.27 26.90 24.60 5.31 36.85
for 100 grams 100.00 125.62 15.34 5.12 6.18 5.65 1.22 8.47

Source: Products available on Tesco UK website. Click on each name to know product details in the above table.

Breakfast-macronutrition-profileThe last two rows of the 2nd table table shows the awesome nutrition profile of this breakfast. 435 grams of food fetch you around 66 grams of carbohydrates of which 37 grams are natural sugar (not artificial sugar which makes a huge difference). Importantly it provides 22 grams of protein and 26 grams of fibre which is really awesome coming from a single meal. It also provide decent dose of good fat along with a small portion of saturated fat. 435 grams might sound bit large for a breakfast but as most fruits and vegetables are soft and tender we can eat more of them. You can always have lesser quantities of these if you prefer.

So how does this breakfast help you to achieve quick natural weight loss and long term health? Well, most breakfasts we commonly eat today is predominantly grain based and hence have high calorie to weight ratio (around 250-350 calories for every 100 grams assuming other ingredients bring down calorie to weight ratio) where as with this breakfast it comes to 126 calories per 100 grams. This is mainly achieved by making vegetables and fruits take up bigger portion of the meal (e.g. adding 100 grams of carrots increases the total calories of the meal by mere 42 calories which is awesome). So you can consume more of this breakfast and still not have to worry about over eating. As weight loss is all about calories in minus calories out, this will indeed greatly help in reducing your weight. More details in the following section..

Breakfast-macronutrition-profile-fruits-and-vegThe other problem with grain based breakfasts are that they lack in variety of micro-nutrients like (vitamins and minerals) due to lower portion of fruits and vegetables in them. So adding a good variety of fruits and vegetables provides you with a good dose of different micro nutrients essential for keeping away deadly lifestyle diseases like cancer.  Don’t forget that we need around 9 to 10 different varieties of vegetables and fruits (more vegetables than fruits) to be eaten everyday to achieve long term health and this breakfast certainly help us with a huge head start (nearly meets 50% of our target with just one meal). We however need to ensure that we use different fruits and vegetables everyday to consistently meet this goal. With normal grain based breakfast we struggle to get more than 3 variety of vegetables or fruits and hence there is a good chance that we fail to meet the fruits and veggies target for the day.

 

Breakfast-macronutrition-profile-carbsTo get a better sense of its goodness let us take a re-look at the nutrition for 100 grams of the same food (refer to the last line of the table). You can see that it only accounts for 126 calories per 100 grams with just over 15 grams of carbohydrates of which over 8 grams is natural sugar. So it has carbohydrates which provide instant energy (sugar) and also the rest which takes longer to digest (based on the low glycemic load of all foods).
Breakfast-macronutrition-profile-fat

It provides over 5 grams of protein and around 6 grams of fibre for every 100 grams of the breakfast which is really good. As most of the 5 grams of fat it provides comes from nuts and seeds, most of it is good fat (and has only 1.22 grams of saturated fat). Obviously, there is none of really bad trans fat in it. In short this breakfast is low in calorie but high in all the good stuffs. So while you can always have less of this breakfast, having more in quantity compared to other grain based ones will not overload your system will calories.

Finally, as most of the ingredients used are really great foods and as they are used in their raw form with little or no processing, you can get the most of its nutrition. Each food used will have its own long list of benefits and hence I don’t want to expand benefits of each of them here. However, I do want to stress a bit about cocoa powder.

Cocoa powder is the best ingredient of this breakfast not only due to awesome fibre and protein it provides but also due to its rich antioxidant content. It also removes the need for us to ever buy a (dark) chocolate again and keep our teeth safe and healthy.

It is a super awesome powder and I highly recommend using it. The only problem with the powder is that it is difficult to consume on its own as it has slightly bitter taste. However, given that this breakfast is already loaded with natural sugar you can make use of the opportunity to get some cocoa into the body. It is one of the best antioxidants out there anyway. It obviously have an overpowering chocolaty flavour and hence kids will surely love it (this has been the breakfast me and my 3 year old son have been eating almost everyday for past 4 months and we both just loves it). This also means that there is no justification for you to enter the chocolate section of any shop again. All chocolates including the dark variety is bad for your teeth so why take the risk when you are getting all the benefits of a dark chocolate with this breakfast anyway?

Creative Variations Options

As mentioned before, the recipe above is one way of preparing this recipe. However you can do it many ways and you can choose the one you like. Let me explore few of the options here.

What Fruits and Vegetables to use? – As long as the taste is within your control, you can experiment with different options. If you are going to use some really sweet fruits like apple or banana and also the cocoa powder then these are good enough to overpower any other fruits or vegetables if used in moderation. I myself have tried some bland variety of vegetables (e.g. cauliflower) in small quantities without any problems. The bottom line is as long as you have a good understanding of total calories of your breakfast, you are free to add any fruit or vegetables you like as long as taste stays good and not get too ‘veggie like’.

Crunchy Vs Soft – The above recipe results in a soft paste with crunchy feel is provided by the nuts. Why make a paste? One reason is to make preparation easier as blending saves time compared to cut each of the fruit separately. Making the food soft also means that biting of the food is not as important as otherwise. In this busy world we tend to focus less on food (and more on TV, mobile, newspaper) and tend to bite less. This poor habit will put extra strain on the digestive system and could result in partial indigestion. What is the use of having a nutritious breakfast which you cannot digest fully? A soft food also helps kids of all ages as well. You can always choose to cut those fruits/vegetables which you love and add them separately for you to get a feel of them every time you have it in your mouth. I love to add roasted peanuts, cut kiwi and blueberries for example.

Final Words

I believe this breakfast easily achieves all the criteria that I set for a breakfast to be the best. While I have not taken effort to justify it here, I hope this long article addresses each point directly or indirectly. However, if you feel it fails in any of the criteria or has important shortcomings then do comment below or write to us. While I have found it hard to find another contender for the best breakfast crown you know something that might be worthy of discussion. If yes, please comment below. Finally, I highly appreciate if you can tell us what you felt about this breakfast? did you like it? will you try it or change something about it before trying it? If you did try then let us know your feedback.

Thanks a ton for your time and I wish you have an awesome breakfast from now on! 

The Best Whole Grain for Weight Loss

Take almost any breakfast, lunch or dinner a grain will be the main ingredient of it. Take any food recipe and you will have a grain or grain powder as the critical ingredient. It is probably clear that the grain is the most consumed food item in the world and will remain so for at least next few decades. Given this lion’s share in our plates, we must think about which of these grains are actually best for us when it comes to achieving natural weight loss. This article is going to do exactly that – a fact finding mission to discover the best grain for weight loss. Read on if you love to know it.

Why do we eat so much grain anyway?

The grains make up the major portion of our plate is not by accident but actually it fulfils a critical purpose – To provide us with abundance of energy which we need everyday. It also provides this mainly through the rich carbohydrates content which is the most easiest to digest of all macro nutrients. Hence most grains will have high carbohydrate content in them. The differences start with other two major macro nutrients – protein and fibre. These are required in relatively lesser quantities but grains rich in them are typically considered better grains. Fats are the last of the macro nutrient which are present in even lesser quantities.

How does a good grain help in weight loss?

This is the big question, is’nt it? So let us look at how a good whole grain help us in achieveing natural weight loss? A good grain simply make us feel fuller for longer periods and hence reduce the amount of food we take. This will eventually lead to us eating less (junk) foods which will help reduce amount of calories we take everyday. This is probably the easiest way to reduce weight. If you combine a good grain with nice dose of fruits, veggies & nuts and some decent physical activity then you will surely see amazing results in four to six weeks.

So what makes a good whole grain?

Grains have a purpose – to provide us with good does of energy and most of them do it well. However, good grains will make it harder to digest the food and hence help us feel fuller for longer. This is possible mainly with a better quality of carbohydrates and higher quantity and quality of fibre and  protein in them.

In very simple terms it is the amount of fibre, protein and complex carbohydrates which determine how effective will the grain be in keeping us feel fuller for longer and stop our craving to eat more. So this enable us to eat less and achieve weight loss

The Comparison

This article will look at top 12 grains based on its macro nutrient content and other essential factors and try to score them. Here we will be comparing uncooked, raw wholegrains (or wholegrain powder) instead of their processed versions to ensure that the comparison is fair. The grains that we will be looking at are as below (sorry, if you eat something outside of the list but do pass it on and we will check and include it if possible). Please note that oat bran is techinically not a whole grain but actually a by-product produced when processing whole oat grains into more refined ones.

  1. Barley
  2. Brown Rice
  3. Buckwheat
  4. Corn
  5. Millet
  6. Oat Bran
  7. Oats
  8. Quinoa
  9. Rye
  10. Sorgrum
  11. Teff
  12. Wholewheat Floor

Macro Nutrients

As all grains that we have considered for comparison are raw unprocessed grains most of these have complex carbohydrates but we will be looking at their Glycemic Load which is a good indicator of how easy it is for the body to digest the food. Lower the number less easier to digest the food and hence better the food for weight loss.

Typically, the protein present in most vegan foods is of poor quality and hence a measure of quality of protein present in these grains would be a good measure of the grain. Fibres are differentiated as soluble and insoluble fibre but both are important for the body. Fibre helps us in many ways one of which is achieving natural weight loss as they make us feel fuller and reduce our need to eat more.

Most grains do not have much fat in them and those which do have do not have the (really bad) trans fats and (not so good) saturated fat in them. So let us look at the numbers, the winner and the reason.

Grains Calories Carbs GL Protein Protein Quality Fibre Fat ND Score Total Score
Oat Bran

246

66

16

17

86

15

7

56

243

Rye

335

70

33

15

80

15

3

47

214

Whole wheat Floor

339

73

36

14

54

12

2

48

207

Oats (Rolled)

379

69

39

13

95

10

7

42

201

Buckwheat

343

71

37

13

99

10

3

41

201

Quinoa

368

64

36

14

106

7

6

45

201

Barley

352

78

40

10

73

16

1

36

198

Teff

367

73

43

13

55

8

2

48

195

Millet

378

73

44

11

38

8

4

37

182

Corn

86

19

7

3

83

3

1

57

175

Brown Rice

370

77

53

8

75

4

3

32

169

Sorghum

339

75

47

11

40

6

3

25

166

Source: nutritiondata.self.com (all nutritent data in grams. For more click on the name links of each grain. GL – Glycemic Load, ND Score – Nutritional Data Completeness Score).

The best Grain in the world is..

Oat Bran

The Awesome Oat Bran

Oat Bran comes out the winner by a distance. If you look at the table, you can see that even though rolled oats is a version of oats it is nowhere close to oat bran at the finish line. While it is easily available in the most parts of the world, it is not as famous and readily available as rolled oats. So next time you go shopping make sure you ask for one of these.

While Rye and Wholewheat does take the distant second and third spots they are gluten based products. Given that there is a lot of research recommending reducing or removing gluten from our plates I would not be recommend them (or even barley). Given this, my top picks are Oats Bran, Buckwheat and Quinoa but it does not mean that the other grains are bad or not worth consuming. We can consume most of the above grains but point to note is that most grains get cooked and the impact of cooking will adversely affect grain nutrition and typically result in significant reduction in fibre and protein content.

Based on the comparison, the top picks are Oats Bran, Buckwheat and Quinoa. However, it does not mean that the other grains are not worth consuming.

I did look into the micro nutrient profile of the grains and it was as impressive as macro nutrients esp. for their vitamin content. Most of the grains did not have any vitamins in significant proportion and hence I thought it was not worth the effort to post it online (However you can download excel version of all the data and scoring here). The grains did have some decent amount of minerals in them and below is how each stack up.

Grains

Ca

Fe

Mg

Ph

K

Na

Zn

Cu

Mn

Barley

29

2.5

79

221

280

9

2.1

0.4

1.3

Brown Rice

23

1.5

143

333

223

7

2

0.3

3.7

Buckwheat

18

2.2

231

347

460

1

2.4

1.1

1.3

Corn

2

0.5

37

89

270

15

0.5

0.1

0.2

Millet

8

4

114

285

195

5

1.7

0.7

1.6

Oat Bran

58

5.4

235

734

566

4.1

3.1

0.4

5.6

Oats (Rolled)

52

4.3

138

410

362

6

3.6

0.4

3.6

Quinoa

47

4.6

197

457

563

5

3.1

0.6

2

Rye

33

2.7

121

374

268

6

3.7

0.5

2.7

Sorghum

28

4.4

0

287

350

6

0

0

0

Teff

180

7.6

184

429

427

12

3.6

0.8

9.2

Wholewheat Floor

34

3.9

138

346

405

5

2.9

0.4

3.8

Source: nutritiondata.self.com ( All mineral are denoted by respective periodic table symbols & all nutritent data in milligrams. For more click on the name links of each grain in the above table.)

Verdict

Grains currently take up the elephant’s share in our plate. The best grains are whole grains with reduced glycemic load and very good dose of protein and fibre. Such whole grains help us feel fuller for longer and reduce our craving to eating more and indirectly and naturally help in excess weight loss. Oat Bran, Buckwheat and Quinoa came out as the best grains in the comparison.

However, grains are not the best source for micronutrients primarily vitamins and hence there are number of studies which suggest reducing the amount of grain intake and increase vegetable portion in our plates. Vegetables not only provide us with all essential macro nutrients, they are also much richer source of micronutrients i.e. vitamins and minerals. Given that most of them have lesser calories we can in fact consume more of them. The main thing we need to do is to eat a variety of vegetables and fruits each day.

Worlds best soup – Spinach, Kale, Watercress super soup

Soups are one of the best foods we can have because they are typically thick liquid and as it is made from vegetables, it is one of the most nutritious food we can have. There are many soups out there and all of them have their benefits. I however, was in search of the best soup out there and I think I have found it. Why is it the best? Let us briefly discuss.

The vegetables are the best foods among all foods on the planet and among vegetables, green leafy vegetables are the best. Among them Spinach, Kale & Watercress tops the list. So a soup which is made of these 3 vegetables should be one of the best if not the best (if you think there are better contenders then do let us know). Anyways, let us know the recipe of this awesome spinach, kale & watercress super soup recipe which is not only amazingly healthy but tastes very good too. First, let us know look into the ingredients.

  • 1/2 cup Spinach, finely cut
  • 1/2 cup Kale, finely cut
  • 1/5 cup Watercress, finely cut
  • 1 cup Masoor Dal (Split red Lentils)
  • 1 Tomato, chopped
  • 1 Onion, finely chopped
  • 1 Chilly
  • 3 Garlic cloves
  • 1 small piece of ginder
  • 1 tbl spoon cumin seeds
  • 1 spoon of oil (rice bran oil suggested)
  • 6 Curry leaves chopped
  • 1 Sweet Potato, chopped (optional)
  • Salt to taste
Spinach Kale & Watercress Super Soup

Spinach Kale & Watercress Super Soup

This probably is the world’s best soup because it is made of top 3 vegetables in the world. If you do choose to add some chunky vegetable (e.g. sweet potato) to it, you already have nearly 5 portions of vegetable in one soup. Now, why would you not call it as the best soup in the world?

Procedure

  1. Add the above cut leafy vegetables, 1 cup of Masoor dal, the tomato pieces and 2 cups drinking water into a cooking vessel. (Note:- If you struggle to get kale or watercress, never mind as you can still prepare this recipe even with spinach alone. The other two would enhance nutrition of the soup).
  2. Optional:- The primary ingredients of the soup are leafy vegetables and hence if you prefer something chunky to chew on, it would be good to add some soft but solid vegetables to bite. You could choose any vegetable of your choice. However, my suggestion is to choose a vegetable with either bland or sweetish taste (e.g. Sweet potato, Potato, Butternut Squash or cauliflower). I have often choosen to use one medium sweet potato as I like a sweetish taste and it’s skin is amazingly rich it antioxidants.  So if you prefer, you could add a medium or finely cut vegetable from the above list or of your choice. If you do add then check and add additional water if needed to boil and cook the entire content.
  3. Mix the ingredients well and cook it in an open vessel. Check regularly to ensure that the mixture is cooked well.
    You can also cook using a pressure cooker. However, pressure cookers tend to harm the nutritional value of the food and hence do not cook the food beyond two whistles to limit the damage. Once ready, keep the mixture aside.
  4. Separately prepare a fine paste of garlic cloves, chilly, curry leaves & ginger piece with the help of a blender or a mixer.
  5. Separately heat the oil in a pan and add cumin seeds followed by finely chopped onion to it. Fry the mix for 5 minutes.
  6. Now, Add cooked mixture, blended paste and fried onion mix into a bigger pan and mix the content in medium heat (flame) for 4 minutes.
  7. Serve hot on its own. It can also be served as an awesome side dish as well.

Well, there you have it. The combination of tomato and spinach ensures that iron content in the food is absorbed well. There are many ingredients for the above soup but you can mix and match your own. So please give try the above recipe or your own version of this and let us know how it came out. We will be waiting to hear from you.

Happy cooking and healthy eating!

How to judge the goodness of a food?

Few weeks back I was having an interesting argument with my wife on which is a better fruit? The apple or the banana? She had a bunch of numbers on banana and I had a bunch on apple and we ended up with a classic problem of comparison and I remembered the old saying – “One cannot compare apples with oranges” (in this case bananas). There are so many nutrients that a healthy body needs so it is not easy to conclude which is important & which one is not. This argument threw a larger question in my mind – How can we can decide on the quality of the foods we eat? or how to judge the goodness of a food? based on what?

This set me out for the next few weeks in nomadic search for answers in books and of course the internet. I looked at many places and it took a while before I could find answers which broadly satisfied me. While there was always an inner debate as what are the parameters I should choose, I was able to list four items for now. I narrowed down the list based on criticality of the role played by the nutrient and the availability of the same in our foods. I believe this list will evolve with time but for now I want these listed for you to see.

Pomegranates & kiwi fruits on a white plate

The Fibre content in the foods we eat is a very important and an essential nutrient for our body. It helps in lowering the blood cholesterol level and also reduces the absorption of sugar. It also helps us feel fuller for longer time reduce our craving to eat more. It is also helpful in having regular bowel moment. So in short, more fibre rich foods you eat better it is for you. The good part is that most of the vegetables and fruits have a good amount of fibre but if you are keen on the best fibre rich foods out there then here is a list of foods which are rich in Fibre.

Antioxidants is the other factor which is very important for us as it helps reduce the ill effects of a crucial process called oxidation. Oxidation results in the release of villains called the Free Radicals. These free radicals are independent but unstable chemicals which could set off a series of chain reactions (the state called “oxidative stress”) eventually leading to damage or death of the cell. Antioxidants are our saviours in fighting these free radicals. Antioxidants immediately stop the oxidation process in the cell by removing the free radicals. Oxidative stress has been associated to many problems and diseases and hence foods which have a good amount of antioxidants are considered priceless for human health. Here is a list of foods rich in antioxidants.

Until recently Fat was considered a big bad word without exception. However, lot of research has been able to distinguish the Good fat from the bad fat. The saturated fat has continued to maintain its tag of “bad fat”(we could still eat it in moderation) but Trans fat is a big No-No and you have to find a way to completely avoid it. To make the matter worse, this bloody trans fat might probably be in your favorite cookies, donuts and so many other processed foods.

On the other hand, both monounsaturated fatty acids  and polyunsaturated fatty acids is considered to be very good for our body. Monounsaturated fatty acids are found in nuts and in the likes of Olive oil and healthy for the heart. The polyunsaturated fatty acids are of two types – Omega 6 and Omega 3 fatty acids. Both are good for our health but Omega 3 is much more important and also we get a lot of Omega 6 but not so much of Omega 3.

Lets get to know Omega 3 better. Well, to start with there are 3 types of Omega 3 fatty acids – ALA, EPA and DHA and simply put we need DHA the most. ALA variant can be sourced from many plant-based options prominent being the Flaxseed. Our the body can convert the ALA variant it gets in to the DHA variant but it doesn’t do a good job of it and it gets worse as we age. For EPA and DHA, the primary source is the sea based algae and hence vegans and vegetarians will struggle to get it from their usual sources (non-vegetarians tend to get this from fish and salmon but these sources could have its bad influence on our health because of other undesirable ingredients). So given the importance of DHA variant of Omega 3 fatty acids for the body it is advisable to go for a natural vegan supplement to be consumed regularly.

Lastly I think Glycemic Index & Glycemic Load are too important a factor not to consider. Glycemic Index (GI) is a measure of every food we eat which indicates the amount of raise it causes in our blood sugar (or blood glucose) levels. Higher the raise in blood sugar from a food, higher is its GI. When the blood sugar levels rise above normal, the body produce a hormone called Insulin to bring the sugar levels back to normal. The sugar that we consume on a daily basis is considered standard and has a value of 100. All others foods will have a lower value and this will range from 50 to 100. Higher the value, more glycemic the food is. It is worth noting that, unlike in schools where 100 is seen the perfect score to get, here it means it is bad for our body in most cases (except when we are in bad need of energy very quickly).

Glycemic Load (GL) is actually a better measure of the impact on the blood sugar as GI doesn’t take into account of the portion size of the food we take. So basically, GL of the food is derived by multiplying it’s GI with the Carbs it provides for a given portion size. So for example, Watermelon has a GI of 120 but a GL of 4 (for 120 grams) and on the other hand dried dates has a GI of 60 and a GL of 42 (for 60 grams). Here is a list of commonly eaten foods and its GI and GL for a given portion size.

Why GI and GL are important? Well, to put it crudely, if the blood sugar levels keep increasing regularly to very high levels and if this happens for a relatively long period then this could lead to a health condition called Diabetes. So, we should try to eat as foods with lower GI as much as possible.

 

Conclusion

So there you are. Fibre, antioxidants, good fat (esp. Omega 3 fatty acids) and Glycemic load are important aspects that should be considered when judging a food. Mind you not all foods score highly on all factors and as long as the foods you choose score highly on at least one factor (but doesn’t score too badly on others) then it is good enough. Mind you, this is not a definitive list as we still need to be mindful of nutrients like Protein, Vitamins & Minerals. If I do identify something which meets the above criteria then I will come back and update this article (for e.g. vitamin B12 might be able to make it to the list on its own). However, for now, the above gives you an idea and hence should help you to rethink on what you are eating right now and what positive changes you can bring to your diet.

 

Thanks you note

Thanks for reading this article and I am greatful for it. I would very much appreciate if you could let me know your views on this article. If you like this article please press the like button and share it with your friends and family. Let us do our bit to make a healthier and happier place.

Why do we need to eat plant based Diet only..?

We humans have changed drastically over the past few decades and during this time we have made a lot of advancements in all aspects of our lives. However, during the same time there is a multifold increase in different lifestyle diseases like obesity, diabetes and cancer. The situation is so bad that almost everyone of us at least know of one person who suffering from one of these disease right now.

So there are a number of institutions world over doing a number of research on various topics and coming up with ground breaking conclusions. However, most of them dont reach the common man due to various reasons but one main reason is industry lobbying. Well established industries like meat and dairy industries would not want someone going around saying eat less milk or meat. So they try to get government bodies to act against implementing a report which would harm the industry and its profits. So the “facts” like cows milk is a must for calcium and meat and dairy is a must for protein is still a fact because all media outlets we are exposed to say these statements all the time. Anyone who says otherwise is seen as a fool.

In light of all these one great doctor is doing an amazing service to all of us. He is going through all of these different studies and its conclusions and publish it to us, the common man in a way which is easy to understand and simple to implement. All his content is available for free on his website nutrition facts (please visit and subscribe).

Of all his videos one of the most impactful video was the one below. In this one hour video given in 2012 he delivers a power packed dose of information, all of which collated from different studies which explains why we all need to choose whole plant based diet and try to reduce or stop eating meat and dairy completely. He has given two subsequent talks post this (links are below) but this one was the most profound of them all. So please do watch, share and comment.

Link to other two talks are below.

2013 Talk

2014 Talk

Sharon Fruit and Japanese Persimmon Nutrition Value

Persimmon is one of the less known edible fruit which is now becoming popular due to its excellent taste and nutritional properties. Sharon fruit is a variation of Persimmon and in this article we will explore all aspects of this amazing fruit so that you can make it a regular part of your diet and also know Why you are doing so.
There are a number of different types of Persimmon out there and they can be broadly categorised into astringent and non-astringent type. Astringent type Persimmons cannot be eaten when the fruit is raw due to presence of a type of tannin which makes it bitter. The bitter taste fades off as the fruit ripens. 
 

Japanese Persimmon

Japanese Persimmon is one of the well-known variety of Persimmon. It’s lesser known real name is Diospyros kaki (Kaki). It is also known as Kaki Persimmon and Asian permission. It is sweet to taste with a soft to fibrous texture. Japanese persimmon is astringent type and hence it will only be fit to eat when it is ripened and attains crisp firm state. In fact, it is best for Japanese persimmons to be left for a while after harvesting to attain best possible taste.
 

IMG_7515

Sharon Fruit

Japanese Persimmon fruit which has got its astringent property removed is popularly known as Sharon Fruit. Sharon fruits are typically ripened off the tree by exposing them to carbon dioxide. The name of the fruit is mainly due to the fact that this variety of persimmon is grown in Sharon plain of Israel. The Sharon Fruit is also known as Korean Mango. The Sharon fruit has no core and seedless in nature. It is very popular for its sweet taste and it can be eaten whole.
 

Japanese Persimmon & Sharon Fruit – Differences and Similarity

Apart from the differences in astringent properties of these fruits, the other obvious difference between these two fruits is the size of the fruit. Sharon fruit is typically smaller in size compared to Japanese persimmon.
As both Japanese Persimmon and Sharon fruit are two slightly different types of the same fruit, there is not much difference between these two when it comes to nutrition provided by them. So the below section of this article will apply to both Japanese Persimmon and Sharon fruit alike. However, if there are any differences that are there between these two fruits which are of significance, they will be highlighted. 
 

Japanese Persimmon & Sharon Fruit – Basic Nutritional Information

Nutrients Quantity (Grams) % of RDA
Calories 70 g 3.5 %
Carbohydrates 19 g 6%
Sugar 13 g  
Fat ~ 0 NA
Cholesterol ~ 0 NA
Dietary Fiber 4 g 14 %
Protein 0.6 g 1 %
 

Japanese Persimmon & Sharon Fruit – Vitamins and Nutrients

Vitamins Quantity % of RDA
Vitamin A (RAE) 81 µg 9 %
Vitamin B6 0.1 mg 5 %
Vitamin C  7.5 mg 10 %
Vitamin K 2.6 µg 3.2 %
 

Japanese Persimmon & Sharon Fruit – Minerals

Minerals Quantity % of RDA
Calcium 8 mg 1%
Potassium 161 mg 4.5 %
Phosphorus 17 mg 1.7 %
Magnesium 8 mg 2.5 %
Iron 0.15 mg 1 %
 

 

Positives Aspects of Japanese Persimmon Nutrition Value (Sharon Fruit Nutrition Value)

Now let us look at what are the major positives of Persimmon. 
  • Japanese Persimmon is a Rich source of dietary fiber. It beats Apple in this aspect.
  • The fruit acts as a decent source of Vitamin A, Vitamin C
  • It provides a varied type of minerals including Manganese, Potassium and Iron
  • Source of a variety of Anti-Oxidants
Now, let’s explore each of the above and their key benefits.
 

Rich Source of Dietary Fiber

Dietary fiber is critical need for human body. It is prescribed that an adult human should have around 30 grams of dietary fiber every day. It is beyond the scope of this article to list the benefits of dietary fiber however the key benefits include lowering of cholesterol, reducing chances of high BP, Promote weight loss, reduces constipation among others. 
While Japanese persimmon is smaller in size compared it Apple, it beats the latter when it comes to the amount of dietary fiber this fruit contains. While a raw apple with skin provides 2.4 grams of dietary fiber for every 100 grams, persimmon provides 3.6 grams for the same 100grams and thus, a single persimmon alone contributes 10% of an average dietary fiber need for a day. 
 

Great source for essential Vitamins

Japanese Persimmon is great source of different vitamins which includes Vitamin A and Vitamin C and 100 grams of this fruit (one to two fruits based on the size) contributes 10% of both vitamins. Both of these Vitamin also act as Antioxidants and are both vital and beneficial for functioning of key organs of the human body.
  

Source of essential Minerals and Antioxidants

Japanese Persimmon is good source of different minerals including Manganese, Potassium and Iron.  Japanese Persimmon also supplies us with a good amount of essential antioxidants and hence contribute greatly to our health and well being.. 
 

 

Verdict

Japanese Persimmon is a lesser known fruit due to lack of its availability but has great taste and it can easily challenge well known fruit like Apple on its fiber content. It comes in variety of sizes and most of them are small enough to serve as a perfect evening snack. If your kid is not liking apple that much then look no further as Japanese Persimmon can act as a welcome fruit option.
 

Persimmon Recipes

Fruits and Vegetables have great amount of nutrition and it gets lost when it is processed. Hence I am not a great fan of cooking if the fruit or vegetable is good enough to be eaten raw. Japanese Persimmon is one such fruit which has an amazing taste and hence I suggest to have it raw as much as possible. However, if your taste buds are craving for more then you are welcome to try out these persimmon recipes.
 
Sources for this Article
 

Eating Uncooked Oatmeal Vs Cooked Oatmeal

Cooking as we know has been the essense of food prepration as it enables richer blending of ingredients and brings in much needed taste to it. However research conducted in last few decades has shown the ill effects of cooking on nutritional value of the food we eat. Cooking alters the structure of the ingredients and hence in most cases reduce its nutritious value. In the same lines, there is lot of curiosity out there to know the benefits of uncooked oatmeal as oppose to cooked oatmeal and this article explores the same (and why not know the comprehensive benefits of oatmeal in the first place) .



Uncooked Oatmeal Vs Cooked Oatmeal Comparison

We only have data available for 100 grams of each cooked and uncooked oat bran. As the cooked oatmeal have significant amount of water in it, it skews the comparison proportionately. The difference is such that cooked oatmeal food displays lower numbers for every element as water contributes to make up good chunk of 100 grams of sample being considered. Below comparison hence should be taken into consideration with this point in mind. The comparison has been broken down by type of elements i.e. proximates, minerals and vitamins.

Prioximates

Element Unit Cooked Oat Bran Uncooked Oat Bran
Energy kcal 40 246
Carbohydrate g 11.4 66.2
Protein g 3.21 17.3
Fibre g 2.6 15.4
Fat g 0.86 7.03

 

Minerals

Element Unit Cooked Oat Bran Uncooked Oat Bran
Calcium mg 10 58
Iron mg 0.88 5.41
Phosphorus mg 119 734
Potassium mg 92 566
Magnesium mg 40 235

 

Vitamins

Element Unit Cooked Oat Bran Uncooked Oat Bran
Thiamin mg 0.16 1.17
Riboflavin mg 0.034 0.22
Niacin mg 0.144 0.934
Vitamin B-6 mg 0.025 0.165
Vitamin E mg 0.0 1.01

 

Verdict

Though this comparison easily gives an impression that uncooked oatmeal is the way to go as it has higher portion of every nutrient. For example, there is around 50% reduction in fibre and protein content of oat bran which is really bad. The effect of cooking is not limited to oat bran but to most grains and food items.  Having said that, eating raw grains is not for everyone but the bottomline is we should avoid cooking food as much as possible. We can certainly help ourselves by using other means to make grains digestable like soaking or steam cooking instead of cooking or worse pressure cooking it. The real challenge most of us face is that we find it hard to compromise with taste even when there is huge health benefits.  Those of us who can over come this challenge can find it easier to be healthy.

 

References

USDA – Uncooked dry Oat Bran

USDA – Cooked Oat Bran

Health Benefits Of Oatmeal Nutrition for Weight Loss

Given the success of oatmeal (which is porridge made of oats) it is a no brainer inclusion into our daily diet (the best benefit of oatmeal is derived when it is had as a breakfast regularly). However there are different versions of story around how healthy oatmeal is and hence there are quite a number of people asking this question – “is Oatmeal Healthy”? Well, if you are after a quick one line answer then I would say “Yes, It surely is”. However, if you are after details as why oatmeal is healthy and what are the actual benefits then do read on. This article on Health Benefits Of Oatmeal Nutrition for Weight Loss will make an honest attempt to explore key health benefits of oatmeal (and oats), in a concise way and hopefully clear main uncertainties around it.

Oats

Image by Farmanac being used here under creative commons licence

 

Oats Nutrition Breakdown

Oatmeal is made from Oats. Oats in its basic form is a whole grain food with high amount of fiber and packed with good amount of protein. It fits the bill for one of the best breakfasts as it keeps you full for long enough to keep you away from those high calorie sugary snack. Taking oatmeal once a day promotes great health by building good body, help in excess weight loss, building immune system and cutting down risks of diseases or ill health.  Its natural to ask what does oatmeal contain for it to contribute in so many ways? Well, oatmeal is made from oats which has some key ingredients which contribute to health. Below are the key components of oats which aid us in many ways

  1. Great Protein Source
  2. Good source of Anti-Oxidants
  3. High in soluble dietary fiber
  4. Good source insoluble dietary fiber
  5. Made up of best type of Carbohydrates, the complex carbohydrates
  6. Contains Phytonutrients and Beta Glucan

These above components bring in some key benefits which are essential for us to know. The below section will touch up on that in detail.

1. Great Protein Source

Oatmeal (oats) are one of the very good source of protein which is one of the most essential nutrients we need for healthy living. Quality of protein available in a food source is defined by the number and the amount of each essential amino acids (EAA) that get supplied by them. As most of our food items don't supply all the 9 EAAs in sufficient levels and hence they require us to eat other food items along with them to make up for the remaining EAAs. This is a critical problem for vegetarian as most of their diets provide an incomplete set of EAAs. On the contrary Oatmeal is a great food which provides all EAAs in suffiecient quantity and hence can be termed as a complete source of Protein.  

To add to this, we humans need roughly 1 gram of protein per kg of our weight and hence it’s essential to have diets which are strong source of protein. Oats is once such diet as it is said to contain nearly 16 grams of protein for 100 grams of oats. If you are a vegetarian, you cannot get a better bargain than this from any of the wholegrain foods.

2. Good source of Anti-oxidants

Oatmeal are also very good source for wide variety of anti-oxidants which have numerous key benefits. For example, Selenium is one such anti-oxidant which is present in oats is said to reduce the risk of Asthma.

3. High in Soluble Dietary Fiber

Importance of soluble dietary fiber is immense for a healthy living. Below are some key benefits.

  • Reduce bad cholesterol levels – Oatmeal contain good amount of soluble fiber which as they get digested will reduces absorption of cholesterol into blood stream and hence aids in reducing bad blood cholesterol (LDL) without affecting the good cholesterol (HDL). LDLs are one of the key contributors for cardiovascular diseases like heart attacks. If you are keen to know more on good and bad cholesterols here.
  • Reduces High Blood Pressure (High BP) – In health studies conducted in recent past, it has been observed that high pressure has been associated with low soluble fiber and protein intake. Hence soluble fiber in oatmeal can add to necessary fiber requirement and subsequently reducing high blood pressure or hypertension possibilities.
  • Promotes weight loss (indirectly) – The soluble fiber in oatmeal results in formation of gels. This gel formation ensures that the person feels fuller for a longer duration of time. This eliminating any need for an inter-meal snack which often tends to be a calorie rich. These snacks are one of the key reasons resulting in derailment of any weight loss plan being executed.

3. High in insoluble Dietary Fiber

Insoluble fiber also contributes heavily for healthy living and some of its key benefits are below.

  • Promote Bowel movements and reduces risk of constipation – Insoluble fiber as it enters the digestive system do not dissolve by its nature. In turn as they are spongy they tend to absorb water which is many times its weight. This promotes healthy bowel movement and reduces the risk of constipation. Due to its high water retention power it enables easy movement of waste through the digestive system.
  • Help keep optimal PH in intestines – Insoluble fiber also helps keep optimal PH levels in intestines which in turn help provide right ambience for healthy bacteria which are essential for our digestive system.

4. Made up of best type of Carbohydrates, the complex carbohydrates

One of the main reasons for weight gain is because our diet is loaded with a lot of refined products which provide a dose of simple carbohydrates. These simple carbohydrates tend to increase our blood sugar levels such that insulin will promote storing fat. The best way to avoid weight gain is by having more complex carbohydrates like oats. Hence having oatmeal as a regular part of your diet will have below benefits.

  • Stabilize blood sugar levels – Unlike simple carbohydrates, complex carbohydrates present in oats tend to spread the raise in blood sugar levels over a longer period of time. This helps in keeping a tab on insulin levels which plays a pivotal role in both preventing diabetics and weight gain.
  • Release energy at a steady pace – Due to the nature of carbohydrates, the digestion process is slow in nature and it takes time to release energy out of it. Scientific studies have been shown that regular consumption of oats alter metabolism positively to enhance performance when consumed 45 minutes to 1 hour before exercise.

Contains Phytonutrients & Beta Glucan

Oats also contain few special substances which add to the value of oatmeal as a food nutrient. Phytonutrients and Beta glucan are two such components.

  • Phytonutrients (phytochemicals) in researches have shown to processes ability to reduce the risk of different types of hormone related cancer, primarily breast cancer. However there are researches which have shown similar results, albeit on a smaller scale for other hormone related cancers like prostate, endometrial and ovarian cancer.
  • Beta Glucan present in oats is known as biological response modifiers (BRM) for their ability to enhance ability of our immune system. There are also some researches which strongly indicate positive influence in maintaining blood cholesterol levels.

 

Verdict

Simply put, oatmeal is one of the best wholegrain food out there. It should be part of regular diet of every individual as it has numerous benefits and this article only mentions few of them. Unlike in Wheat and Rice, oats contain a good balance of essential fatty acids, which have been linked with longevity and general good health. All of these great benefits makes oats one of the best food item to be incorporated into your diet.

 

References 

1.       Soluble fibre and Cholesterol reduction

2.       About Weight Loss, Reducing Cholesterol levels and Anti-Oxidants

3.       Impact of Soluble fibre on High Blood Pressure – An experimental study

4.       Benefits of Soluble/Insoluble fibre

5.       Insoluble fibre & digestive system

6.       More about Beta-Glucan

7.       Health benefits of Oats

Popcorn Nutritional Value

Popcorn is one of the most famous snacks all over the world. It is almost a "must have" in all shopping malls and cinema multiplexes. It is very tasty and has a great flavour which drag us towards it instantly. Given its done in a constrained manner, Popcorn is one of our recommended healthy snacks for any occasion. Why? Read on to know popcorn nutritional value.

popcorn

 

Popcorn Nutritional Value

Popcorn is a healthy wholegrain food and hence it is ideal for snacking between well timed balanced meals. It is generally filling in nature and has energy enhancing carbohydrates. In addition to its taste, it is the popcorn's nutritional value which makes it such a fantastic snack. It is a very good source of dietary fibre and protein. It is also known for its low sodium and sugar content.

Below is the table which details popcorn’s nutritional value.

Popcorn nutrition (30g)

Content Amount (Typical)
Calories 93
Calories from Fat 10
Carbohydrates 18.7g
Dietary Fibre 15g
Protein 3.1g
Iron 2.7mg
Cholesterol 0mg
Fat 1.1g
source – about.com

 

Antioxidants

Another nutritional benefit of popcorn is its high content of antioxidants, which not only protect cells from damage caused by free radicals, they can reduce risk of getting cancer and heart disease. Below is a list of such key ingredients in 100 grams of popcorn.

Popcorn Types & Calories

Content Amount (mg)
Iron 2.5
Phosphorus 2.8
Calcium 11
Thiamine (B1) 0.39
Riboflavin 0.12
Niacin 2.2
Sodium 2
source – buzzle.com

 

Word of caution!

Care should also be taken when giving popcorn to small children (typically below age of 4) due to chances of choking. Special type of popcorn has been developed with special "hullness".

Please note that it will be a grave mistake to group all available popcorn into a “healthy snack” bracket. Most commercially sold popcorns might have extra oil/sugar/butter added to add more flavour to popcorn. Popcorn, only when it is made using the minimal amount of correct ingredients, can be said to be healthy. Below is a table which gives examples of different type of popcorn and its estimated calories

Popcorn Types & Calories

Popcorn Type Calories (Typical)
Caramel popcorn with peanuts 230
Caramel popcorn 122.5
Cheese Popcorn 58
Oil Popped popcorn 55
Buttered Popcorn 40
Air Popped 31
source – buzzle.com

Summary

Based on the above table we can summerize below nutritional facts about popcorn.

Popcorn – things to remember

1. No cholesterol
2. Very low in saturated fat
3. Very low in sodium
4. Very low in sugar
5. High in dietary fibre
6. Good source of protein

 

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