9 Healthy Ingredients to include in Indian Food

When it comes to Indian food, there are some ingredients that have health benefits. Here are nine healthy ingredients to include.

9 Healthy Ingredients to include in Indian Food f

Turmeric is usually added to various Indian dishes

Indian cuisine, renowned for its vibrant flavours and diverse array of spices, holds a treasure trove of healthy ingredients.

As the world increasingly embraces a holistic approach to wellness through diet, the spotlight is turning towards the rich tapestry of ingredients found in traditional Indian cooking.

From spices that boast potent antioxidant properties to nutrient-rich vegetables and legumes, these culinary staples offer a myriad of health advantages.

We delve into nine essential ingredients that can elevate the nutritional profile of your Indian dishes, empowering you to create meals that nourish both body and soul.

Whether you’re a seasoned chef or a novice in the kitchen, incorporating these ingredients into your culinary repertoire will not only enhance the taste of your meals but also contribute to your overall well-being.

Turmeric

9 Healthy Ingredients to include in Indian Food - turmeric

For millennia, this radiant golden spice has been integral to Indian culinary and medicinal traditions.

Its primary component, curcumin, boasts proven anti-inflammatory and antioxidant qualities according to studies.

Although much of the research on curcumin has focused on animal subjects, a human trial with 60 participants suggested that supplementation with curcumin could potentially offer a safe and beneficial remedy for major depressive disorder.

How to Use It

Turmeric is usually added to various Indian dishes, including vegetables, beans and lentils, among others.

Its benefits extend beyond flavour enhancement; when paired with other spices, such as black pepper, its absorption rate can skyrocket.

A study suggests that adding black pepper to turmeric can boost the absorption of curcumin by a remarkable 2,000%.

Additionally, for a delightful twist, you can blend turmeric into warm milk to create a soothing golden latte.

Chickpeas

9 Healthy Ingredients to include in Indian Food - chickpeas

People who regularly eat chickpeas tend to have higher levels of essential nutrients in their diets.

These include dietary fibre, healthy fats, folate, magnesium, potassium, iron and vitamins A, E, and C.

Chickpeas, commonly associated with hummus, are versatile ingredients in Indian cuisine.

They’re prepared in various ways: soaked and cooked whole with spices, enjoyed as dry-roasted snacks, or ground into flour for making pancakes, dumplings and sweets.

With their impressive protein and fibre content, chickpeas contribute to satiety and assist in managing overall calorie intake.

How to Use Them

One popular way this healthy ingredient can be used is in chana masala.

Alternatively, you can have dry roasted chickpeas for a snack.

If you have never used chickpea flour, try using it to make pancakes or crepes.

Mung Beans

9 Healthy Ingredients to include in Indian Food - mung

These small green legumes may not feature prominently in Western cuisine, but they certainly deserve attention.

With approximately seven grams each of protein and fibre per half-cup serving, they pack a nutritious punch, as per USDA data.

Moreover, research suggests that these beans are abundant in antioxidants and minerals associated with various health advantages.

How to Use Them

In Indian food, mung beans are prepared in a variety of ways.

Traditionally, they are made into a soup with garlic, ginger and spices to be enjoyed with rice, or served sprouted as a salad with chopped vegetables.

Try mung beans in place of other lentils in a recipe, or add sprouted mung beans to your salads for extra protein and fibre.

Kidney Beans

Studies indicate that consuming these kidney-shaped red beans correlates with a reduced risk of chronic diseases like diabetes, cancer, obesity and coronary heart disease.

Compared to certain other beans, they typically have lower carbohydrate content, as suggested by independent research.

According to a study, kidney beans contain resistant starch, a fibre-like compound that resists digestion.

How to Use Them

Rajma masala is a common Indian dish that features cooked red kidney beans in a spiced sauce with onions and tomatoes.

You can also incorporate kidney beans into salads, or add them to soup.

Alternatively, they can be a substitute for meat in curries.

Ginger

Ginger is one of the healthiest ingredients to include in Indian food.

One of its primary active ingredients is gingerol. This has been studied for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects.

A systematic review validates ginger’s efficacy in alleviating nausea and digestive distress.

Furthermore, another review investigated ginger’s potential in pain management across diverse contexts.

It revealed promising outcomes in reducing menstrual discomfort, migraines, knee pain, and muscle soreness through oral consumption, topical application and even aromatherapy.

How to Use It

Ginger is a common ingredient in many traditional Indian dishes.

It is also added to chai.

Try ginger in your vegetable dishes, or make chai with fresh or powdered ginger.

Cinnamon

This healthy ingredient is actually derived from the ground bark of a specific tree, boasting a delightfully spicy aroma alongside numerous health benefits.

Research highlights its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anticancer properties.

Moreover, cinnamon is associated with enhancements in blood glucose levels, potentially aiding in insulin sensitivity and reducing fasting blood sugars.

How to Use It

While cinnamon is commonly associated with baking in Western cuisine, it finds extensive use in savoury as well as sweet dishes in Indian cooking.

Whole cinnamon sticks infuse simmering sauces with aromatic depth, and powdered cinnamon plays a crucial role in the beloved spice blend, garam masala.

Experiment by incorporating cinnamon into your next savoury culinary creation.

Cumin

Extensively studied for its potential in aiding weight loss, this adaptable spice has shown promising results.

In a study involving 88 women with overweight or obesity, incorporating cumin into their diet for three months resulted in notable decreases in weight, body mass index, waist circumference and body fat.

Additionally, according to USDA data, just 1 teaspoon of ground cumin can offer nearly 6 per cent of the recommended daily intake of iron, making it a noteworthy source of this essential nutrient among spices.

How to Use It

Available as seeds or in powdered form, cumin is a common ingredient in Indian cuisine.

Use it in your spice blends, or add it to vegetables, beans, or chilli.

Fenugreek

Multiple studies have suggested that this healthy ingredient could potentially decrease blood sugar levels in individuals with diabetes or pre-diabetes.

Furthermore, it has been proposed as a supplement to enhance milk production in breastfeeding women.

How to Use It

In Indian cuisine, fenugreek leaves and seeds, known for their sweet, maple syrup-like flavour, play a significant role.

The leaves are commonly utilised as a side dish or incorporated into flatbreads, while the seeds feature in various recipes.

Experiment by adding fenugreek seeds or powder into any side dish during cooking.

Alternatively, you can boil the seeds in water, strain and indulge in a soothing herbal tea.

Bitter Melon

Belonging to the same family as squash, such as pumpkin and zucchini, this Asian vegetable boasts a mildly bitter flavour profile.

Like its counterparts, it is calorie-light and offers a good dose of fibre.

However, its standout feature lies in its remarkable vitamin C content.

According to USDA data, just half a cup provides a substantial 46% of your daily value of this vital antioxidant.

Renowned for its ability to enhance immune function, vitamin C plays a crucial role, as highlighted by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

How to Use It

If you cannot find this healthy vegetable in your usual supermarket, look for it in an Indian grocery store.

Try it with onion, garlic and tomatoes or in a stir-fry.

In conclusion, incorporating the highlighted nine healthy ingredients into your Indian cuisine promises to enrich both the flavour and nutritional value of your meals.

By embracing these culinary treasures, you not only honour the rich heritage of Indian cooking but also embark on a journey towards improved health and well-being.



Dhiren is a News & Content Editor who loves all things football. He also has a passion for gaming and watching films. His motto is to "Live life one day at a time".





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