Putting A Better Spin On Dinnertime

Three Health Benefits of Indian Food

Most people who enjoy Indian food already know it's delicious, but most don't realize the ingredients used to make those fragrant dishes also provide numerous health benefits. Here are three ways meals prevalent in Indian culture can be good for you.

Disease-Fighting Spices

The most iconic thing about Indian food is it's typically made using a wide variety of tasty and aromatic spices, such as turmeric, black pepper, ginger, and cinnamon. Although these spices give the dishes their distinctive flavors, research indicates they can also help prevent a number of diseases, including cancers and neurodegenerative disorders.

For instance, turmeric contains curcumin, which has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and neuroprotective properties. Research into curcumin found that it may break up amyloid-beta plaque that contributes to the development of Alzheimer's disease. A lab also found turmeric contains turmerone, a substance that may stimulate the body to make new brain cells. Although clinical trials have produced mixed results, it's probably not a coincidence that India has a low incidence of the disease.

Cinnamon is another commonly used spice that has many health benefits. Most notably, a few studies indicate it may help regulate blood sugar levels, which is good news for diabetics. Like turmeric, cinnamon has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that can reduce the damage caused by environmental elements like free radicals.

So not only are you satiating your hunger, you are also potentially fighting off harmful diseases whenever you partake in a healthy Indian meal.

Lots of Whole Grains and Vegetables

Although people in India do eat meat, they don't consume a lot of it. Therefore, most dishes are vegetarian. This means you are getting a lot of healthy whole grains and vegetables that are both filling and promotes good health.

For instance, Dal Makhani is a dish made with lentils, which is part of the legume family. Lentils contain lots of good protein and fiber, which helps you feel fuller longer. They can also help reduce cholesterol and contain folate and magnesium, which have been shown to improve heart health.

Roti is a type of flatbread that's often served with foods or used as a wrap. Although commonly made from wheat flour, you can get rotis made from some combination of wheat, jowar, bajra, bran, soyabean, black gram, barley or sattu. This produces a low-carbohydrate bread packed with fiber to help keep you regular and lower cholesterol.

Indian cuisine also uses yogurt in a lot of recipes. In addition to being a good source of calcium, yogurt typically contains bacterial cultures that may aid with digestion. It's also a low-fat alternative to heavy creams and milks that provide a lot of unnecessary or unwanted calories.

Low-Calorie Fare

Speaking of calories, you'll find a lot more low-calories dishes in Indian cuisine than you may find in dishes from other cultures. As noted previously, many meals are made primarily from grains and vegetables, which tend to naturally be lower in calories. Portion sizes are also generally on the smaller side, though this really depends on where you eat, as some restaurants like to pile the food high on the plate.

It's important to note, though, there are some dishes that do contain a lot of fat and calories, particularly those made using cream, oils, high-fat milk, or fatty cuts of meat. If you're watching your weight, it's a good idea to ask for substitutions to bring down the caloric cost of your favorite food. Make sure to talk with someone from the restaurant to determine which foods you should avoid in these situations.

For more information about Indian food or to order take out for you and your family, contact a restaurant like Deccan Spice.