Let’s begin today with a good Indian breakfast. Eat breakfast like a king, a nutritional advice that we have heard many a times. And we are spoilt for choice in our country, where food plays such an important part of our daily lives, celebrations and social fabric. While in the west, most usually have breakfast on the go, practically all Indians have grown up with not being allowed to leave home without having a hearty breakfast by the elders. We are fortunate to live in households where we do inculcate this good habit of the first meal of the day. However, we forget that what we choose to eat also has a great impact on our health.
Sometimes, due to ignorant choices or time bound practicality we tend to make the wrong choices for the most important meal of the day. A glass of juice, cornflakes, breads, pancakes, waffles in aping the fanciful west OR aloo paratha, puri bhaji, thepla chundha, sheera, sabudana vada/sabudana khichidi, butter idlis…these all are the catalysts for accumulation of visceral fat. Full of carbs and fats which elevate the sugars in our body and do little to increase our morning metabolism or energy levels, these infact will increase lethargy and slow your mental output. So then what is the right choice amongst the Indian breakfast dishes?
1. Poha: Simple and easy to make. A bowl of poha which has onions, potatoes, green chillies, tomato and coriander, is a cauldron of health. Having almost ¼ of your iron requirement for the day, it can be a staple breakfast for young children, pregnant and lactating mothers and elderly for whom the iron requirement can be easily met. It also contains potassium, sodium, Vitamin A, and Vitamin C quercetin, biotin and flavonoids.
2. Upma: Though rava isn’t a filling or complete healthy option, making the upma with oats can up its nutrients significantly. Oats contains fiber, iron, magnesium, selenium, iron and manganese. Having a low glycemic index it is easily digested, and provides fiber to reduce blood sugar levels.
3. Idli/dosa: Fermented food such as the idli or dosa have lactobacillus bacteria which improves digestion in the gastrointestinal tract, reducing mineral deficiencies. It contains Vitamin B3 along with carbs and protein. When had with sambhar and chutney, it also provides other VitB’s present in dal and the nutrients in the vegetables that the sambhar has. The Gram dal in the chutney provides protein and coconut provides the omegas. Though the calorie content of this breakfast needs to be balanced out by later meals, it is undoubtedly a good meal to begin your day.
4. Paratha: A wholesome morning meal for anyone who is even averagely physically active. It contains, carbs, protein, Vitamin B and depending on the stuffing, one can up the nutrient quotient. Having it with Curds/dahi gives the benefit of protein in a vegetarian meal.
5. Fruits: Fruits such as banana, watermelon, papaya, apples are available practically all round the year. The banana can prove to be the best meal for people on the run. Providing carbs, potassium, magnesium, Vitamin B, folate. Watermelons have Vitamin A, Vitamin C, biotins, potassium, magnesium and no fat. So extremely good for weight watchers. Papaya is high in Vitamin C and carotenes. It is also a source of Vitamin B, and fiber. Apples have potassium, polyphenols that are excellent antioxidants. It also has fiber and is known to help in reducing blood sugar.
6. Milk and Milk products like yogurt and paneer: A perfect source of protein for the vegetarians. Milk also contains, calcium, magnesium, potassium, selenium, Niacin, Thiamine, zinc and folate. Some of the milk brands also fortify their milk and milk products with Vitamin D. Yogurt scores higher however having probiotic bacteria to aid digestion.
7. Porridges of bajra, wheat, ragi, amaranth etc: Slow cooked kernels of bajra, wheat, ragi and such other millets are high on the satiety level and are both carb and protein rich. They also are full of Vitamin B, calcium, iron and a host of trace minerals.
8. Eggs: A perfect wholesome meal with the right balance of carb, fat and protein. It has practically almost all of the vitamins even Vitamin B12 and Vitamin D and many important minerals such phosperous, selenium, choline etc.
We don’t have to have fancy food inducted into our lives to make it healthier. All we have to do is balance what we eat every day and add as many nutrients as we can in each meal. Making a meal nutri-dense automatically decreases unwanted fat from being stored in our body as the fiber content being high, fat is eliminated from our system. Our cuisine can be health concentrated along with it being economical and tasty and easy to prepare. Be informed, be intelligent and make the right choice.