Five superfoods you would have never guessed are super!
Ahh..superfoods! Unless you've been living under a rock, you've surely heard this term being thrown around by almost every food related brand, health blog and fitness magazine these days. It sounds intriguing for sure, but what does it mean? What are these mysterious "super" foods that seem to have cropped out of nowhere into our food discussions? And should they move from our conversations, into the food on our dinner tables?
Well you'll be surprised to know, many of these superfoods have always been a part of our daily meals and have just been "re-discovered". These foods range from the familiar lentils to the always prized cashews and the absolutely versatile sugarcane. The list can be endless, so we've picked out our top 5 for you!
But before we get into the specifics, let's understand what makes certain seemingly regular foods, Super. Superfoods are those everyday foods that are easily available, locally grown, usually inexpensive, choke full of essential nutrients, and can be eaten in many different ways, thus making every part of them valuable at every stage of their life cycle. So contrary to popular belief, they aren’t some exotic, rare, never before heard-of food items, but foods that have been cultivated in abundance, for centuries, in our very own backyards.
So let's go ahead and learn about our picks for the top 5 super foods:
1) Flax seeds
Indians know these as Alasi - the tiny grains our mothers roast, crush and add to flour, which gives that awesome nutty flavour to rotis and parathas. They're also ground and used to make delicious laddoos in some Indian communities. So it looks like we know of them, have been eating them, so why the sudden interest? The West seems to have realized that flax seeds are the best known natural (vegetarian) source of omega 3 fatty acids. Omega 3 fatty acids are extremely beneficial and necessary for us, since they prevent the deposition of cholesterol in arteries and prevent heart disease. But that's not all - flaxseeds are high in fibre, help control blood sugar, may help in controlling blood pressure - the list goes on.
How can you consume flaxseeds?
All of us remember studying about the multi-purpose nature of the coconut plant. It can be consumed or used in so many different ways, that it's been given the prestigious designation of Kalpavriksha, or the "Tree of Life". From coconut water, to the raw fruit, ripe fruit, oil, milk, choir, leaves, bark, shelter - the uses are never ending. So let's discuss its entry into the superfood category. Coconuts are rich in medium chain saturated fatty acids, which are instrumental in reducing heart disease risk, cholesterol, weight and according to some studies, even contribute to brain health.
How can you consume coconuts?
Famed nutritionist Rujuta Diwekar swears by the benefits of consuming sugarcane. She in fact reminds us that sugarcane is known as one of our Panch Amrits—5 Amrits. It's versatility cannot be argued with - it can be eaten raw, made into a cold-pressed juice and converted into brown sugar powder as well sugar crystals known as "mishri" in India. It is immensely beneficial for liver function - the organ which acts as a detox agent for the human body.
How can you consume sugarcane?
Lentils have been a staple of Indian households for centuries, but seem to have lost favour recently in the wake of global food habits. Let us tell you why that's a bad idea - they're high in proteins, are packed with fibre, loaded with magnesium and folate which help in heart health and something that will interest the weight conscious - extremely low in calories. They release energy slowly and steadily and keep you active for longer.
How can you consume lentils?
Yes, the humble banana! Delicious, easily available, extremely affordable, versatile in usage, and so good for the body. It ticks all the boxes to be regarded a superfood. Its most important property is the low glycemic index- this is what ensures slow release of insulin and accelerated fat burning. So essentially, bananas help you control blood sugar and maintain weight. It's extremely good for gut health, and helps to alleviate mood disorders as well.
How can you consume bananas?
So now you know, you don't need to search for and spend crazy amounts of money on kale and steel cut oats if you want to incorporate superfoods into your diet. There are so many that are locally available and not only aid health, but also don't increase carbon footprint as they're not imported, but locally produced!
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