According to the CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation) in Australia, it may be true!!
The CSIRO reviewed the abstracts of about a 122 reviews published on apples and found that the saying does hold some weight. Scientific evidence does actually show that regularly eating apples can help:
Keep your heart healthy: by helping to lower total and LDL cholesterol. New research from the University of Western Australia show that eating apples may improve blood pressure and elasticity of blood vessels.
Maintain a healthier gut bacteria: by bringing positive changes to gut bacteria
Assist in weight loss: by helping you feel fuller for longer. Studies have shown that both adults and children who eat apples regularly are more likely to have a lower BMI which could be attributed due to the pectin (fibre) and polyphenols present in apples.
Apples are known to be subject to a host of pesticides and since most of the nutrition is in the skin, the best thing to do is either buy organic apples or do the next best thing – soak the apples in a baking soda solution for 12 to 15 minutes and then scrub it well.
Oats are a rich source of both soluble and insoluble fibre and this makes it a great food for those trying to lower cholesterol. Besides fibre, oats is also loaded with magnesium, phosphorus, thiamine and zinc. So with such an impressive resume-why is it one of least popular grains especially among Indians?
Blame it on the mushy, gooey texture when cooked with liquids. Also, oats porridge by itself is so bland that you end up adding lots of sugar to make it palatable, thus making an otherwise healthy dish into a totally non-healthy dish. So, what is the solution? How can we use the oh-so-good oats and make a dish that is tasty, palatable and not mushy or gooey?
Here’s the answer: Oats upma Or Oats Pulav (the difference is in what you use for seasoning). For upma add a tadka of mustard seeds, jeera, channa dal, curry leaves while for the pulav add whole spices like cardamom, peppercorns, shahi jeera, cinnamon sticks and ginger+garlic paste.
Rolled Oats – 1 cup
Onion – 1 medium
Green chilli – 1 slit lengthwise
Ginger- 1 inch piece finely chopped
Mixed vegetables – 1 cup (mix of carrot, beans, peas, cauliflower)
Water- 3/4 cup
Peanuts: a handful
Turmeric: 1/4 tsp
Coriander leaves: 2 tbsp chopped(for garnish)
Lime juice: 2 tbsp
Salt: to taste
For the Tempering:
Oil – 1 tbsp
Mustard seeds -1 tsp
Channa dal- 1/2 tsp
Red chilli -1 broken
Hing- a pinch
Dry roast oats for a few minutes, until it becomes slightly hot to touch.
Heat oil in a pan, add mustard seeds, when it splutters, add the rest of the ingredients for tempering and the turmeric.
Then add finely chopped onions, peanuts, green chili, ginger and saute until onions turn translucent.
Add all the vegetables,salt and saute for a few more minutes, then add 3/4 cup of water and salt required.
When the water starts boiling, lower the flame add the roasted oats, cover and cook till done.
Switch off and garnish with coriander.
Serve hot with a dash of lime. You can also serve chutney with it.
Though beetroot is loaded with vitamins and minerals, including B vitamins, iron, magnesium and potassium, it isn’t a popular vegetable and somehow doesn’t get onto the diet more often. The nutrients they contain fight inflammation, lower your blood pressure, and could also fight cancers.
Since it is naturally sweet, it can be used as a salad by those who don’t like sweet vegetable sabzi.
Here is a simple Mangalorean style stir-fry which tastes great with chapathis and even with rice and dal. My kids love eating it with curd rice as they love to see the colour of the curd rice change from white to pink when they mix the beetroot with it. Do note that beetroot has a naturally occurring dye that can colour your hands/cutting boards while cutting. It will also cause you to have pink stools and urine after consuming it, so don’t be alarmed.
Beetroot Upkari: Serves 4-5
Beetroot: 3 big
Mustard seeds- 1/2 tsp
Green chilli- 2-3
Curry leaves- Few
Urad dal/ Split Black gram- 1 tsp
Coconut Oil- 1 tsp
Salt- To taste
Sambar powder(optional): 1-2 tsp
Grated Coconut: 2-3 tbsp for garnish
Wash and peel the beetroot. Then chop it into small cubes.
Heat oil in a kadai and add mustard seeds. Once it starts popping, green chilli, curry leaves and urad dal. Fry for a minute.
Add in the chopped beetroot and mix well. Add the salt and water, sambhar powder(for a variation, though not added to regular upkari), close and cook for 15-20 minutes on a medium flame.
Once cooked, add grated coconut as garnish and serve with rice+dal or curd rice or even chapathis.
Beetroot Juice is a great drink for athletes ,sports persons and for those who exercise regularly as beetroot is loaded with nitrates . Nitrates when consumed are converted to nitric oxide which helps in opening the blood vessels and allows more blood and thereby oxygen to be delivered to the muscles.
Omega -3 fatty acids are an important nutrient for overall health as well as well as heart health. They are categorized under essential fatty acids (EFA) as our bodies cannot produce them and they must be got through food or supplements. Though there isn’t any official Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for omega-3, it is believed that we don’t get enough in our diet. To read more about Omega-3 Fatty Acids and the different sources, click here: Omega-3 Fatty acids-How much and How to get them?
So why wild caught salmon? Salmon by itself is actually a white fish. Wild caught salmon is caught in their natural environment and feed on insects, shrimp, plankton and small fish, which gives the salmon its remarkable deep red flesh coloring. Whereas, farm raised salmon live in cages with thousands of other fish and hence cannot move as much as wild caught. They are also fed commercially produced fish food which results in an inferior white flesh color. Since this is not acceptable, salmon farmers add a chemical dye to the feed to get the pink/red flesh in farmed salmon.
Hence wild caught salmon is not just tastier to eat but is nutritionally far better than farmed. Wild caught definitely has more Omega-3, vitamins(including Vit.D), minerals, along with high levels of selenium and iodine.
Here is a quick and easy Salmon recipe that my kids love as it’s tangy and not-spicy. The Dijon mustard gives an amazing flavor, but you can replace it with whole ground mustard if you want.
Ingredients for Tangy baked Salmon with garlic and Dijon mustard:
Wild caught salmon fillet: 1 lbs (washed and pat dry)
Garlic: 3 cloves (grated)
Dijon Mustard: 1 tbsp
Pepper: 1/2 tsp freshly ground
Oil/melted butter/ ghee: 1 tbsp
Coriander leaves: 1 tbsp chopped
Lime Juice: 2 tbsp
Salt: to taste
In a bowl make the marinade by mixing all the ingredients (except salmon). Taste for salt.
Marinate the salmon generously with the marinade and set aside for 15-20 mins.
Preheat the oven to 230 C (450F). Line a baking tray with parchment paper and lay the salmon skin side down on the tray (if you want a crispy skin, then you can pan-fry on high heat for 5 mins and then put them on the baking tray).
Cook for about 15 mins (about 10-12 mins if you have first pan fried).
Cranberry juice has long been used in treating urinary tract infections. It is loaded with antioxidants and phytonutrients which researchers believe also protect against cancer. Fresh cranberries have the most health benefits followed closely by dried cranberries.
Try out a simple Sweet and Spicy(and tart) Indian Style Cranberry Chutney:
Jaggery: 1/2 cup
Fennel seeds( Saunf): 1 tsp
Zeera/ cumin seeds: 1 tsp
Ginger: 1 tsp grated
Red chili powder: 1/2-2 tsp (depending on your heat tolerance)
Garam masala: 1 tsp
Olive oil/ Ghee: 1 tbsp
Salt: to taste
Heat oil/ghee in a pan, add cumin seeds. When they crackle add the grated ginger to it.
Then add the cranberries, salt, fennel seeds , garam masala and the chili powder. Add some water and let it cook on medium heat till the cranberries are cooked and soft.
Taste for salt and add the jaggery to it. When completely cooked, taste it to make sure there is a balance in the spice, salt and sweetness (if not add accordingly).
Set aside to cool for sometime. Put the mixture in the blender and blend it to fine paste.
Broccoli belongs to the same cruciferous family like cabbage,kale, cauliflower,collards and Brussels sprouts. It is a low calorie vegetable and is loaded with fibre, vitamins A, C folic acid and is also known for it’s anti-inflammatory properties. It must be noted that eating raw broccoli has actually more benefits than eating these in the cooked form as some of the antioxidants and vitamin C are destroyed by heat.
Ingredients for Spicy Broccoli Stir-fry (Serves 4):
Broccoli: 2 medium heads (wash, cut into bite sized florets
Garlic: 5-6 cloved (minced)
Turmeric: 1/2 tsp
Red chili powder: 1-2 tsp (adjust according to heat tolerance)
Coriander powder: 2 tbsp
Jeera powder: 1/4 tsp
Garam masala powder: 1/2 tsp
Green chilies(optional): 1-2 slit
Salt to taste
Oil: 2 tbsp
Add a little salt and steam the broccoli florets for 2-3 minutes (the broccoli should be crunchy and not soggy). Keep aside (alternatively, you could add the broccoli florets to boiling salt water and cover and keep for 4-5 minutes. Then drain and keep aside).
Heat the oil in a kadai, add the minced garlic and green chilies(optional)fry for a minute.
Reduce the flame to medium heat and add the spice powders (turneric, coriander, jeera, garam masala) and quickly mix in the oil (otherwise the spices will burn).
Quickly add the steamed broccoli and mix well such that the spices coat the broccoli.
Check for salt(add more if necessary). Stir-fry for a couple of minutes.
In a move to popularize the use and intake, 2016 was declared by the United Nations as the ‘Year of the Pulses’. The aim of this was “to heighten public awareness of the nutritional benefits of pulses as part of sustainable food production aimed towards food security and nutrition”.
Dals, pulses/legumes are a staple in the Indian diet for years, but it has not a popular food item internationally. According to the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO): “In a balanced and diverse diet, the nutritious seeds can be consumed every day alongside fruit, vegetables, herbs, cereals and other fresh foods. Pulses provide an affordable alternative to animal protein. Additionally, they are rich in dietary fibre, vitamin B complex, and minerals, such as calcium, zinc, and iron.Food and nutrition education can promote the consumption of pulses.Food and nutrition education programs are crucial for teaching adequate pulse consumption in order to maximize the absorption of nutrients: For example, matching pulses with cereals to obtain a complete protein, consuming them with vitamin C (e.g. ascorbic acid) in order to increase iron absorption and avoiding to eat them with tea or coffee which, in contrast, would limit it “. Researchers have shown that eating whole pulses and lentils can lower cholesterol levels.
Ingredients for Sabut Masoor ki dal:
Whole pink lentil (sabut masoor): 1 cup (washed and soaked for an hour)
Onion: 2 medium (diced)
Tomatoes: 3 nos.
Ginger: 1 ‘ piece
Garlic: 3-4 nos.
Green chili: 1-2 (as per your heat tolerance)
Coriander/cilantro leaves: 3-4 tbsp chopped
Garam masala: 1 tsp
Chole Masala: 3 tsp (or as per your taste)
Jeera/cumin seeds: 2 tsp
Bay leaf: 1no.
Hing/asafoetida: a pinch
Salt: to taste
Heat the oil in a pressure cooker, when it is hot add the jeera/cumin seeds, bay leaf, turmeric powder and hing.
Add the onions and fry till they start turning brown. In the meanwhile, puree the tomatoes with the ginger,garlic and green chilies.
When the onions start to brown, add the puree, the garam masala, chole masala, salt and stir till the oil leaves the sides.
Drain the soaked sabut masoor and add them to the masala. Mix well, then add two cups of water.
Close the lid of the pressure cooker and let it cook for one whistle. Switch off.
Let the pressure drop, then open the lid, check for spices, salt. If it’s too thick you can add a little water and simmer for a few minutes.
Garnish with chopped coriander and serve with rice or rotis.
To make a soup– Follow the same method but add a cup of seasonal mixed vegetables (green beans, carrots, cauliflower, etc) and chopped spinach when you add the sabut masoor/pink lentils (Step 4). Then close and pressure cook for one whistle. When you open the cooker, add water to make it into a soup consistency and let it simmer. Garnish with freshly chopped coriander leave and add a dash of lime. Serve hot. Makes a very filling soup.
The World Heart Day is on the 29th of September. A Heart Healthy Diet is not designed only for those who have problems related to the heart (high cholesterol, high blood pressure, heart attack, etc), but also for those who would like to reduce the risk of heart diseases in the future. Following a Heart -healthy diet can be beneficial for all, especially since research shows that Indians are genetically predisposed to heart disease. Low physical activity, low vegetable intakes along with high fat intake has added to our problems due to which obesity and diabetes are now common among Indians. A heart friendly diet should be:
1. High in fiber-studies have shown that a diet high in fiber helps in reducing cholesterol. Include whole grains (brown rice, whole wheat atta, ragi, jowar, bajra, whole wheat bread/pasta) and pulses, fresh fruits, vegetables and green leafy vegetables.
2. Low in saturated and trans fat– a diet low in fat, especially trans-fat (dalda/vanaspati, margarine,) is shown to be beneficial. Non-vegetarians can choose from lean meat like chicken and fish (especially those high in Omega-3 fatty acids like Indian Mackerel, sardines, salmon)
3. High in Omega-3 Fatty Acids– a diet high in omega-3 fatty acids is seen to benefit those who are at high risk for ischemic heart disease (IHD). It is essential for numerous normal body functions like building cell membranes in the brain and controlling blood clotting. Fish, walnuts, flax seeds, soy beans, spinach/palak should be included see the benefits.
4. Low in sodium-sodium is known to increase the BP and put more pressure on the internal organs including the heart. The RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance) for salt is less than a teaspoon/day.
5. Rich in Antioxidants: Found in coloured fruits, vegetables and grains, antioxidants are believed to help prevent disease by fighting free radicals which are substances that harm the body when left unchecked.
6.Rich in Fermented foods: Fermented foods contain ‘probiotics’ or in other words ‘live bacteria’ and yeasts that are thought to have health benefits. desi ferThe most commonly used fermented food in Indian houses is curd/yogurt/dahi, lassi, chaas/buttermilk. Check nutrition labels carefully for added sugars, thickeners and other additives that are used commercially and remember that fermented foods should be ‘live’ so need to be kept in the fridge. Heat treatment that may be used to preserve or cook these foods destroys probiotics.
Along side a healthy diet, being physically active is also very important. Speak to your doctor and then choose an activity or exercise that you can do for at least 30 minutes every day.
On rising: Water + Walnuts Breakfast: Oats porridge (old fashioned/steel cut/rolled oats NOT Instant)+ Blueberries Mid-morning: Green tea + Apple Lunch: Brown rice + Palak dal curry+ Cabbage and pea’s sabzi
Cucumber and tomato salad+ Buttermilk/chaas (made from skimmed milk) Evening: Tea/ Coffee with Channa chaat Dinner: Paushtik Roti (with flax seed powder) + Baingan ka bharta + Fish curry
Carrot raita(made with non-fat curd) + Red grapes (NOTE:Portion control is very important. To find out the right portion sizes, do contact your dietitian.)
Prevention is always better than cure and this is true even for the matters of the heart! Why wait for heart problems to crop up and then change your diet? By eating healthy now, you may be able to prevent/avoid heart diseases in the future.