Sunday, February 14, 2010
Considering they are so easily available today, it's hard to believe that at one point there were wars fought over it. Full of antioxidants, minerals, vitamins and free of calories, spices and herbs can be liberally added to dishes. In fact, when substituted for salt, they can help in reducing bloating, water retention and cravings. Recently, turmeric powder was in the news for evidence that it contains curcumin which can fight Alzheimer's and Dementia, as well as for having anticancer properties. While it has been a staple in Indian cooking for decades, the West is only recently awakening to its benefits. Indian cuisine contains a vast number of important spices which are not present in processed or fast foods. If you've been going for bland food thinking it might be a healthier option, think again!Deepshikha Agarwal, sports physician and dietician says people don't know about the important properties of spices. "Due to the frantic pace of everyday life, most women don't get time to cook and order in or buy readymade meals which lack essential herbs. Even the most basic ginger and garlic is good for digestion, blood purification and releases acidity and curbs gastro problems. Saffron has vital anti-bacterial properties and is a cooling agent as well. Cloves can be used to kill oral bacteria and aid in the digestive process; the list can go on," says Deepshikha.
The condiments in our Indian food stimulates the gastric juices, which is why you get constipated eating bland food abroad, says nutritionist Naini Setalvad. "Very few people know, but coriander is the best possible form of calcium. The leaves are an excellent stimulant and it is known to reverse and retard digestive disorders, high cholesterol levels, conjunctivitis, heavy menstrual flow, skin disorders, and most importantly, to 'clean up' the mess caused by years of smoking. Turmeric has been called the 'holy powder' for it's ability to prevent Alzheimer's and cancer cells from multiplying as well as helping with cystic fibroids and sclerosis. The yellow coloured powerful beta carotene can also help reduce your stones, cardiac problems, mouth infections and dental problems. Dill leaves have a stimulating effect. They help cure diarrhoea, dysentery, bad breath, colds, bronchitis, swellings and are good for pregnant women and lactating mothers.
Health expert Madhuri Ruia says simple everyday ingredients like cinnamon help regulate blood sugar levels because it contains chromium and zinc and acts as a blood thinner while preventing fungal infections. "Fenugreek or methi relieves sinus and asthma while reducing inflammation and constipation. Even simple adrak chai contains ginger which has volatile eye number," explains Naini. Similarly basil or tulsi has antioxidant properties. It keeps the blood pure and makes your hair and skin to glow. Basil leaves also aid in diabetic treatments, fevers, respiratory problems, kidney oils and pungent phenol compounds like gingerol that help with rheumatoid arthritis," adds Madhuri who feels one shouldn't skip out on these vital herbs and spices when cooking.
EAT HEALTHY: Indian cuisine contains a vast number of important spices which are not present in processed foods