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The common misconception is that Indian food is too spicy and oily. However, the vibrant spices, fresh herbs and the never-ending combination of flavours are a gateway to healthy living - when used in the right way.
Indian cuisine is a gold mine of fibre-rich foods, which have a myriad of health benefits that include promoting weight loss, reducing unwanted cravings, lowering blood sugar levels, fighting constipation, and reducing the risk of stroke and constipation .
The Goodness Of Indian Diet
The traditional Indian diet consists of a high intake of plant foods like vegetables, lentils and fruits, as well as low consumption of meat . When consumed the right way, the ingredients in Indian cuisine can help improve your health in many ways.
An Indian diet is more of unrefined and fibre-rich carbohydrates. Moreover, our body's constitution and tropical weather conditions call for a more energy-rich diet. Studies link the Indian diet to a reduced risk of Alzheimer's disease, which is assumed due to the low consumption of meat and emphasis on vegetables and fruits .
The Indian diet is rich in nutritious foods like grains, lentils, healthy fats, vegetables, dairy and fruits. However, it does not mean that eating meat, poultry, fish and eggs is discouraged. Indian cuisine, as we all know, emphasises on the use of healthy spices such as turmeric, fenugreek, coriander, ginger and cumin .
Health Benefits Of Eating Indian Food
• Good for your heart: Packed with vegetables, legumes and spices that are antioxidant-rich, an Indian diet can help reduce cholesterol levels in the blood . The controlled use of healthy spices and herbs help fight inflammation throughout the body and lower blood pressure, reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease and various other heart-related conditions .
• Help reduce cancer risk: Several studies have pointed out that the various compounds found in several spices such as turmeric, black pepper, garlic, basil, cardamom etc. used in Indian cuisine help reduce the risk of cancer and affect tumour behaviour .
• Controls blood sugar: A well-curated Indian diet can help control blood sugar levels . A study shows that Indian food can help reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes and is suitable for individuals who have diabetes already .
• Good for bones: Many Indian foods are made using milk and curd, which is a good source of calcium. Consuming these foods can help improve your bone health and may prevent the risk of osteoporosis and other bone diseases .
• Beneficial for the brain: Many spices and herbs used in Indian cooking have been shown to help preserve memory and prevent cognitive decline as well . It was also shown that an Indian diet might help reduce the chances of dementia .
Healthy Indian Foods
Dahi, yoghurt or curd: When the curd is prepared from skimmed fermented milk, it is much healthier to consume. The reason why this Indian food is healthy is that it has a good amount of calcium and good bacteria to help heal and keep your digestive system healthy .
Roti: Roti or chapatis are a staple food in North India. This healthy Indian food is made from wheat flour. It is high in energy, has a rich source of carbohydrate and also contains 60 calories. It is one of the best foods to add to a weight loss diet.
Sambar: A popular South Indian dish, sambar is something you eat with your breakfast, lunch and dinner. Made with dal and every possible vegetable available (from carrots to beetroots), this slow-cooked dish, along with the addition of asafoetida, has detoxification benefits as well. It is high in proteins, packed with fibre and has high antioxidant levels. This health-packed dish is easy to digest, as well.
Rajma: One of the healthiest Indian foods you should try out is rajma curry. This legume is low in calories and contains proteins . You can make this legume as a curry or a dry dish or enjoy some rajma chawal (rice).
Bindi fry: Ladies finger is considered to be a healthy Indian food because it consists of Vitamin C and fibre. In addition, ladyfingers are right for your eyes, skin and are suitable for a diabetes diet . Make sure to cook it in less oil.
Raita: What is a biriyani without raita?! Raita is an add on which Indian people consume with biryani or rice. Raita is curd which is mixed with vegetables like tomato, cucumber and onion. It is low in calories as well.
Brown rice: Also known as Palakkadan matta, red rice is nutrient-rich. Apart from being a solid source of healthy carbohydrates, matta rice is an excellent source of magnesium, thereby help prevent the onset of heart disease . Controlled consumption can help reduce the risk of diabetes, meet your daily fibre requirement and also slows down the absorption of carbohydrates due to its rich fibre content.
White rice: White rice is a staple food in India. This healthy Indian food is a necessity in all Indian states. Cooked white rice is rich in starch which easily converts to glucose in our body and shoots up our blood pressure.
Bajra: Also known as pearl millet, bajra is popular in Rajasthan. Bajra is a humble healthy Indian food which has been consumed in India since the pre-historic times. It is consumed in the form of rotis or khichdi.
Idli: A very common South Indian breakfast food, idli is a great source of carbohydrates and proteins. The fermentation process increases the bioavailability of proteins and enhances Vitamin B content in the food .
Dhokla: Famous in Gujarat, this staple snack is made with gram flour. Dhokla has a low glycaemic index which releases glucose at a more sustained rate in your body. It is safe for people with diabetes .
Palak paneer: Rich in protein, folic acid, magnesium and calcium, this popular vegetarian dish is easily one of the healthiest Indian foods . Many refrains from eating paneer as it contains a lot of fat. Though this is true, it is also one of the healthiest Indian foods since it contains a high amount of calcium, which are essential for your bone health and prevent osteoporosis too.
Dal curry (lentils): Lentils provide about 30 per cent of their calories (240 kcal in 230 g) from protein. This healthy Indian food should be added to your daily meal as it gives you the right amount of dietary fibre, folate, vitamin B1, and minerals such as iron that is very important for a woman .
Indian leaves: If you are wondering what Indian leaves is, it is nothing but curry leaves, coriander leaves and mint. These three are powerful and effective leaves which help to keep you healthy. They have a ton of health benefits along with beauty benefits too.
Pav bhaji: This potato-based curry and pav, a favourite, is garnished with coriander, chopped onions and butter. It is healthy as it is made with healthy vegetables like green beans and potatoes which are rich in Vitamin A and calcium. You can make the dish healthier by skipping on the butter.
Sattu drink: Anything roasted and ground into a fine powder is called sattu. A staple food in many parts of India, sattu is originally made of roasted gram flour and other nutritious flours like barley and wheat.
Aloo gobi: Another people's favourite, this combination of soft, cooked potatoes and cauliflower along with black pepper and salt makes a healthy Indian dish. One of those main spices used is turmeric, which helps fight disease by boosting the liver's ability to detoxify the blood .
Daliya: Bulgur wheat/daliya is a very light and healthy option for breakfast. It is an excellent source of fibre that helps to maintain a healthy digestive system .
Sukhee laal mirch: These dried red chillies are usually used for seasoning. It is one of the healthiest Indian foods since it contains several vitamins like A, B, C and phytonutrients too . Adding this dry spice to your meal will also aid in rapid weight loss.
Lassi: A mandatory dish in most North Indian meals, buttermilk is low in calories and contains low fat. To make buttermilk - you need half a glass of yoghurt and half glass of water, salt and chopped coriander leaves. Mix these four ingredients and make yourself a healthy glass of this Indian drink .
On A Final Note…
Always remember to control your portions. However healthy the food is, the way you cook them and consume them matters a lot. Now that you have read the list of most healthy Indian foods, how many are a part of your diet?