One of the key ingredients for a healthy life is a healthy diet – a balanced meal consisting of various vital food groups in moderation such as carbohydrates, proteins, fats, fibre, vitamins and minerals. In the context of healthy food options, superfoods have gained immense global popularity over the past decade. Superfoods are nutrient-rich foods that are considered to positively impact one’s health and well-being and are also attributed to helping combat certain illnesses and diseases.
Popular superfoods or nutritionally-dense foods that are renowned across the globe include salmon, blueberries, kale and acai – these are only a few from a long list of superfoods. However, superfoods can also be found closer to home. Although not commanding as much popularity as their global counterparts, Indian superfoods are packed with nutrition and therefore, incorporating them into your daily diet is a prudent step towards a healthier life.
Here are some Indian superfoods that you just can’t miss out on:
1. Indian Gooseberry
Colloquially known as Amla, the Indian gooseberry is a superfood in its own right. The fruit is a rich source of Vitamin C – 100 grams of amla supplies up to 46% of your daily Vitamin C requirement. It is packed with dietary fibre, Vitamins A and B6 and essential minerals. The benefits of amla range from immunity boosting and free radical elimination (these are associated with ageing) to aiding in digestion and promoting healthy hair growth.
Fresh green spinach leaves are not only a delicious addition to dals and curries, they are also loaded with nutritional goodness! One of the richest sources of dietary potassium and magnesium, one cup of raw spinach or Palak contains about 167 milligrams of potassium and 24 milligrams of magnesium – both these minerals are essential for metabolic activity in the body, maintenance of muscular and nervous health, fostering heart health, ensuring immune system responsiveness and maintaining blood pressure. Spinach is also a good source of Vitamin K, Thiamine, Fibre, and Phosphorus.
This luscious red super-fruit is a treasure-trove of beneficial nutrients! Tomatoes are one of the richest known sources of lycopene, an antioxidant that lends the fruit its rich red colour. They also contain copious amounts of alpha and beta carotenes, lutein, Vitamins A, K, B1, B3, B5, B6, B7 and C, Minerals such as Iron, Folate, Potassium, Magnesium, Chromium, Choline, Zinc, and Phosphorus and other Phytonutrients. Tomatoes help in bettering Heart health, preventing Kidney and Gall Bladder Stones, promoting healthy skin, hair and bones and reducing the risk of certain types of Cancers.
Also known as Dahi or Curd, Yogurt is a dairy product with superb health benefits. Consuming one cup of yogurt equalling 170 grams can provide your body with 20% of its daily Vitamin D requirement and 20% of daily calcium requirement. Vitamin D and Calcium are essential for maintaining good bone health, and for strengthening bones and teeth. Additionally, yogurt is an excellent natural source of good bacteria that is required for the proper digestion of food; therefore, it fosters better digestion and also prevents stomach infections.
5. Red Cabbage
A smart and cost-effective alternative to Kale, Cabbage is loaded with nearly all the nutrients that its globally acclaimed cousin contains. Red Cabbage is more nutritionally dense than Green Cabbage. In terms of daily nutrient requirements, one cup of cooked Red Cabbage takes care of 79% of Vitamin K, 69% of Vitamin C and 20% of Vitamin B6 requirements. Cabbage is rich in Polyphenols, making it a storehouse of antioxidants that can help prevent Cancer, reduce inflammation, promote digestive health and boost cardiovascular health.
Locally known as Alsi, this desi alternative to Mexico’s native Chia seeds boasts of higher concentration of polyunsaturated fatty acids and monounsaturated fats than chia, making it a heart-friendly Superfood! Besides being a source of healthy fat, flaxseeds are a rich source of micronutrients such as Antioxidants, dietary fibre, Vitamin B1, Manganese and the essential fatty acid Alpha-linolenic Acid, better known as Omega-3 fatty acid. These nutrient-rich seeds can be consumed as part of salads, smoothies, baked items and so on.
Superfoods are basically foods that are power-packed with nutrients that are essential for the proper functioning of our bodies. Nevertheless, these foods must be consumed just as any other foods – in moderation and as part of a nutritious, balanced meal.