By Deepti Tiwari
Indian cooking is naturally rich in essential nutrients and provides a balanced meal plan.
When we discuss child nutrition essentials, their diet should comprise of proteins, carbohydrates, essential vitamins (A, B, C, D, E, K), minerals (iron, calcium, zinc, etc.) and fibres. The Indian diet remains a healthy choice for kids’ nutrition for some of these reasons:
A BALANCED MEAL
The Indian meal is a balanced meal, comprising mainly of cereals, pulses and vegetables (cooked, uncooked). Cereals include wheat, rice, bajra, ragi and makai, vegetables (cooked), salads (uncooked vegetables), dal (pulses and legumes), curd, rice (brown or white) and, last but not the least, dessert such as a piece of jaggery, gulab jamun, rasogulla, halwa, etc. When you analyse the diet, it majorly includes food from all the food groups, completely abiding by the food pyramid.
RICH IN CARBS & FIBRE
It is rich in complex carbohydrates, which keeps energy levels high for a longer duration. Wholewheat atta, ragi, dalia, veggies and sprouts are also rich in micro nutrients (iron, calcium, vitamins A, B, C, E, K) that are essential for a child’s growth. Indian diet is also high in fibre, as a lot of vegetables and fruits are included in daily meals, as compared to other cuisines where refined cereals are a major ingredient like breads, noodles and pasta.
LOTS OF GOOD FAT
Its rich in good fat as a variety of oils (mustard, til, ghee and coconut oil) are used for different preparations, besides nuts and seeds being used in preparing various delicacies. Ladoos, made of dry fruits, seeds and whole cereals, are power-packed snacks for growing kids.
Indian food almost always uses fresh ingredients and involves making dishes from scratch, which means less preservatives and overall healthier food. There are less vitamins and minerals lost as the dishes are freshly prepared.
EASY TO DIGEST
It’s also easy to digest and keeps our digestion better as fermented foods and spices like cinnamon, jeera and saunf are used during preparation. Indian food also includes pre and probiotics in the form of fermented foods, raita, curd, buttermilk in a daily diet. The cooking uses spices like turmeric, ginger, garlic and curry leaves, all of which have medicinal and healing properties, helping to secrete digestive enzymes and improve digestion. Curry leaves also have memory boosting properties.
(The writer is Clinical Nutritionist, CK Birla Hospital for Women.)