18 October 2010
Is Your Health Food Really Healthy Or Have You Simply Fallen Prey To Eye–catching Advertisements? Pooja Singhania Deciphers Some Common Health Food Jargons To Facilitate Informed Nutritious Choices
As it turns out, your low–fat substitute is not really all that low fat and the authenticity of your brown bread is in question too. Time to stop and ask yourself if you have really made a wise decision in the name of healthy eating or have you just been swayed the many complicated but fascinating clichés about the same.
Here is busting some common myths about popular so–called health products: Brown Bread: A number of brands now exist in the brown bread product category. We assume that brown, ie whole wheat flour bread is a healthier alternative to white bread, ie bread made of maida. However, the truth is that the soft crumbly texture of the brown bread is maintained by using only a small percentage of whole wheat flour (40 per cent), while the rest is really maida (60 per cent). Certain companies also add caramel for additional softness.
Eat chapatti (poor man’s bread) or stuff sprouts and vegetables between those slices to dish out a wholesome fiber packed breakfast instead of eating plain toast.
Watch The Ingredient List:
Choose breads containing a higher percentage of whole wheat flour. Biscuits: It is ironic that when hunger pangs strike in–between meals, we reach out for the biscuit jar thinking of it as a healthier alternative to other snacks. In reality, most biscuits are not very healthy, and this includes the high–fiber, lowsugar variety as well.
Surprised? Well then, you must not forget that while some biscuits may have low–sugar, they still contain a large amount of unhealthy fat, without which they can’t be crispy and crunchy as we enjoy them. These fats can increase the risk of diabetes, heart disease and sudden cardiac death. Skip the biscuits and munch on khakra or roasted chana for a satisfying mid–day meal instead.
Watch The Ingredient List:
Avoid biscuits with high total and saturated fat content. Lite Butter: There is no shying away from the fact that even though technology can enhance the quality of fat present in a food product, ultimately our arteries stand the risk of getting clogged if the total quantity is not moderated. This applies very well to the case of lite butter too.
"A butter substitute in no way indicates that it is a healthy food; all said and done, it is a source of added fats," cautions Dr Jagmeet Madan, Principal and Reader (Dept of Food and Nutrition), SVT College of Home Science, SNDT Women’s University, Mumbai.
Get innovative with home–made bread spreads use hung curds or chutneys and different vegetables to supplement the daily dose of vitamins and minerals.
Watch The Ingredient List: Choose butter that is cholesterol free and low in saturated fat.
Artificial Sweeteners: Have you been using sweeteners as a rescue food to satisfy your sweet tooth? Well then, it’s time to rescue yourself from the shackles of ignorance! Most artificial sweeteners have not been tested thoroughly for long term effects on our health.
"From the array of choices available in the market, make sure to read labels for the maximum dose of the sweetener to be used, based on sound scientific evidence of cumulative effects," advices Sonal Modi, Chief Nutritionist and Diabetes Educator, Dr Chandalia’s Clinic, Mumbai.
Choose fresh (mango, watermelon, custard apple) and/or dried fruits (dates, figs, raisins) to pacify the sweet–craving.
Watch The Ingredient List: Avoid sweeteners containing saccharine and cyclamate. Roasted Snacks: Popular roasted snacks, meant for guilt free snacking, may be crushed in the blotting paper for a shocking first hand proof of the amount of oil present. While a handful of products are genuine, most of them use refined edible oil to spray seasonings and enhance flavour. So, go slow on those 100 per cent fat free snacks which can jeopardise both health and wealth!
Watch The Ingredient List: Avoid excessive snacking on items containing large amounts of edible oil.
Cholesterol Free Oil: Even diligently picking out the most exclusive oil that claims to be cholesterol–free, does not make the consumption of deep fried puris, kachoris, samosas or finger chips any healthier than it would be otherwise. Open your hearts and minds to the fact that none of the vegetable oils contain cholesterol which is present only in animal foods. Hence, we cannot take liberty in the amount we use.
Watch The Ingredient List: Use oils/blends of oils containing rice bran oil, mustard seed oil, soyabean oil, etc in rotation.
The wisest way to salvage our health is to follow the principle of moderation in everything eat. Dr J S Pai, Director of the Protein Foods and Nutrition Development Association of India (PFNDAI), urges, "Consumers must get used to reading nutrition information on labels, so as to make informed choices." Let us not alienate the traditional home–made foods to accommodate processed and fortified ones.
So, instead of straining the grey cells, gear up to exercise your body such that you can truly relish that rare sinful indulgence!