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Naini Setalvad
Naini Setalvad


Know your food

There are scores of facts and home remedies flying around when it comes to food and health. But what’s true, and what’s not? Here are six common myths and six uncommon facts that we should all be aware of:

Myth: Lemon is acidic

Fact: Lemon is acidic on the tongue but alkaline in the stomach. So, whenever you have acidity suck a lemon or have lemon juice without sugar. It's the best way to beat acidity. Please don’t have any milk or milk products (no matter how cold), as these cause acidity rather than reducing it.

Myth: Juices are as good as eating fruits

Fact: Juicing a fruit eliminates the fibre content. Even though the fruit may be low in GI, the juice will invariably be high, being bad for diabetics. Fruit juices are also high in calories and cause the infamous “sugar rush” followed by a drop in energy.

Myth: Eating out means breaking your diet

Fact: Healthy options are available everywhere! Simply keep a lookout for foods which are steamed, baked, stir-fried or made of whole grains (if there’s no whole wheat, then opt for rice or couscous, rather than white flour). Always add a salad and cooked vegetable to your meal. Again, these are available in various forms—steamed, baked or stir-fried depending on the cuisine. And in case you do decide to indulge a little, it does not mean that you are permitted to “let go” and cheat for the rest of the day.

Myth: Milk is required daily for its calcium content

Fact: The calcium in milk is not completely absorbable by the body. It is more of a protein source. Better sources of calcium are: sesame seeds, leafy greens, figs and nachani flour. Calcium is also available in tomatoes and beet root in small amounts.

Myth: Organic food is a fad and does not improve health. It's not easily available

Fact: It's not chemical and pesticide-free. Many people think if you grind your grains or spices at home they are organic.

Myth: Vegetarians lack protein

Fact: The average vegetarian does not have any dearth of protein, either in their diet or in their body stores. Vegetarian sources of protein are aplenty. Be it sprouts, pulses, peas, tofu or milk products, vegetarians have a vast array of options to choose from. These foods are also included in our regular diet, so there’s no need to go out of your way to eat extra protein. A person needs no more than 0.8 grams of protein per kilo of body weight, which is provided for within a regular, balanced diet.


Nuts are not to be feared. They contain good fats, which means that they can lower your ‘bad’ cholesterol and increase your ‘good’ cholesterol. This makes them extremely healthy.

Pumpkin seeds are rich in magnesium as well as healthy fat. These are required for men’s health.

Prunes are extremely rich in fibre. Thus, they are nature’s wonderful broomstick. These ensure that your digestive tract is healthy and also regulate your digestive system. They are the lowest dry fruit in the glycaemic index, therefore, good for diabetics.

All fruits (with very few exceptions) are zero in fat. Dry fruits include raisins, dates, dry figs, dry apricots and prunes. These are fruits which have been dehydrated, or dried. They contain mostly the same properties as their fresh counterparts. Thus, dry fruits are zero in fat, and are a good snack to munch on.

Milk has properties that thicken mucus, thus causing phlegm. A good way to avoid this is by adding turmeric, saffron or masalas as in chai.

You know you are in for trouble if you see that pot belly. Belly flab leads to an elevated risk of diabetes, high cholesterol and hypertension.

Organic food is safe and pure, and is more nutritious and environment-friendly. It protects against diseases. Change all your grains, pulses, spice, salt as well as oils, ghee to organic. It will make you 50 per cent organic improving your health. People often wonder what they are paying for when it comes to organic food. Truth is that conventional produce is made using pesticides and harmful additives. Chemicals are used to make pulses gleam and to make fruits shinier. Various substances are added to spices to increase their volume as well. Organic produce uses none of this. Organic grains and spices have distinctively stronger flavours. They are chemical-free, thus preventing brain chemical imbalances and hormonal disruptions.

Good carbohydrates are the one that keep you full for a longer time. Carbohydrates are in vegetables and fruits and not just in grains and potatoes. Cutting out good carbohydrates will make one depressed. To lose weight, you need to cut out bad carbohydrates like sugar, white flour, fried food, all chocolates, sweets, fruit juices and aerated drinks.

Extra virgin olive oil cannot be used for frying. It can be used for cooking.

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The Week

Topics : #opinion | #nutrition

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