Nutrition Recommendations for Vegetarian Indian Cuisine
Vitamin B12 and Omega 3 fats (EPA, DHA, ALA)
Vitamin B12 are only found in animal foods. The EPA and DHA are found in fish. The DHA added to Infant Baby Formula is harvested from seaweed cultures.
All is not lost for vegetarians. There is ample B12 available in eggs and somewhat in milk. The human body can convert ALA into EPA and DHA. The Flaxseeds, walnuts and spinach are a good source of ALA. Cooking with Canola oil and Mustard seed also helps. Olive oil has no omega 3 but Canola oil and Mustard seed oils do. For this reason, I always recommend Indian Vegetarian to use Canola oil whenever possible over any other plant oil.
Roti, Chapati, Poori, Naan
In general, Roti/Chapati should use Atta made with whole wheat, Bajra, Jowar, and corn. It adds fiber as well as B vitamins. Refined flours such as Maida, are void of most of the needed nutrients. One may add Besan (Chickpea flour) to make Missi Roti. This increases protein value, and adds fiber. Mixing Badam shavings (Slivered sliced almonds) will increase Vitamin E. Adding Alsi (Flax seeds) helps add omega 3 fatty acids (normally found in fish and sea food) and omega 6 fatty acids.
Unfortunately, both Dosa and Idli are made using short grain white rice. The white rice used has has little or no fiber, and B vitamins. A nutritional approach would be to reduce the conventional ratios (3 or 4 parts rice, 1 part Urad) to 1:1 ratio, and use brown rice.
Brown rice has many B vitamins with moderate Glycemic Index. Brown Basmati Rice is the best choice out of all the rice used in India. This follows the long grain brown rice and then white basmati rice.
Ghee, Makhan, Vanaspati, Cooking oils
Ghee, Butter, and Coconut oil are the most common cooking oils. These are high in saturated fats. Vanaspati, Dalda, and hard margarines are nothing but trans fats. The saturated and trans fats are known to contribute to heart disease and must be avoided. We should use plant oils such as Canola, Corn, Peanut, Mustard seeds, Peanut oil, soy bean, Olive oil.
Milk, Dahi, Paneer, Cream, Chach
These items are a major source of Animal protein, Calcium, and vitamin B12 in Indian diet. However, they are high in saturated fats. We need to switch to skim milk or low fat milk products. In the olden days Dahi was churned to make Butter, and the leftover was the Chach (buttermilk). Chach remain the best dairy product. It is low in fat and easier to digest. Don't confuse Chach with buttermilk sold in United States. The buttermilk in United States is just milk with culture added, the added culture is not even 'live culture'.
Egg is excellent source of complete protein and vitamin B12 for Lacto-ova vegetarians. Eggs do have dietary Cholesterol. One large egg has about 214 milligrams of Cholesterol primarily in the Yolk (yellow part) that also happens to be the source of vitamin B12. Let us examine this cholesterol problem closely.
Dal, Beans, Pulse, Lentils
In a vegetarian diet, these items are primary source of protein. They have three distinct advantages over meats.
Unfortunately, Indian cuisine lacks intake of raw vegetables. Most of the Vitamins are either lost or degraded in cooking especially the Vitamin C. The greens such as Spinach, Mustard greens, Fenugreek leaves, can add abundance of Vitamins. For some reason, many greens remain obscure: Karela leaf, Beets leaf, Turnips leaf. The pumpkin has more nutrition than the white potato, but remains a food for poor class.
Nuts & Seeds
Nuts and seeds are a good source of protein and essential fatty acids. The walnuts, and pistachios are good source of omega 3. Among nuts, Almonds have the highest amount of E vitamin
The banana, Guava (Amrood), and Cantaloupe are the best fruits for people with hypertension. The Amla (Indian gooseberry) has the highest concentration of vitamin C. For some reason, there are more myths, why we should not eat bananas than the facts why we should eat them.
Namkeen, Sweets & Sugars
We, the Indians love our sugary sweets and deep fried Namkeen. Some are even deep-fried and sugary: Gulab Jamun, Shakarpara. No party is complete without a Samosa, or a Rasgulla. The sugars used in Indian cuisine include Table sugar, Honey, and Jaggery. All these sugars represent empty calories. The following should be noted:
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