While the rules of healthy eating are universally the same — eat healthy, move more, avoid stress and sleep better — there are some specific foods that can give women a definite advantage in terms of health.
With the International Women’s Day upon us, Kavita Devgan, Nutrition Expert, Tata Nutrikorner lists five oft-ignored ingredients that are part of the Indian kitchen and must find their way into every woman’s diet.
Spices are rich in natural oils that help the body in building immunity, digestion, and cleansing. Often spices are extracted from these very natural oils and in-turn lose their health benefits. How do you know your spices are healthy and loaded with natural oil? Sniff it! The stronger the smell, the more it is replete with natural oil, the healthier it is for your body.
Researchers have been studying the low Alzheimer’s disease incidence in India and high consumption of turmeric and are becoming confident of a connection there.
Curcumin, a component of turmeric is the protective agent here. It supports better memory, focus, and cognition by increasing growth of new neurons and fighting various degenerative processes in the brain. With women being multitaskers in their everyday life, it is important to consume turmeric which has at least three percent curcumin for a healthier mind and body.
How much: Just a pinch a day in your tadkas (tempering) or as haldi milk every night
Coriander seeds help control blood sugar, cholesterol, and free radical production. They also help lower levels of bad cholesterol, while increasing levels of good cholesterol. More importantly, they are known to be anti-carcinogenic. Coriander is known to prevent hair fall and contain natural stimulants that stimulate the endocrine glands to maintain proper hormonal balance in the body thus alleviating menstrual pain and irregularities.
How much: Add a pinch to all tadkas every day.
Many women are unknowingly deficient in iodine especially if they are a vegetarian as Iodine is found mostly in seaweed, dairy, tuna, shrimp, and eggs. This deficiency affects thyroid hormones negatively and results in Intellectual disability. The common symptoms of iodine deficiency are fatigue and weakness, hair loss, dry, flaky skin, feeling colder than usual and trouble learning and remembering. To ensure that everyone has a sufficient intake of iodine, WHO and UNICEF recommend universal iodization of salt.
How much: About 5 gm of branded vacuum evaporated iodised salt per day
Besan (gram flour) delivers fibre helping keep constipation at bay. A collagen formation booster, it has anti inflammatory properties that helps prevent fatigue and iron deficiency in the body. Being a rich source of B vitamin thiamine, include besan in your diet to feel energetic and rejuvenated.
How much: Two to three times a week
Well, the three solid pillars of good health are: enough nutrients, good quality protein, and fibre for gut health – and lentils (dals) deliver all three in abundance. Plus they are a very cost effective source of good quality protein – a boon for vegetarians particularly as they often don’t score enough of this macronutrient. Lentils deliver the hard to find nutrient – folic acid that is essential for health. Enough folic acid helps prevent birth defects in pregnant women.
How much: Two servings of (any) dal every day.