For the health-conscious eaters among us, Indian food might not be the first cuisine to come to mind when it's time to think about dinner. Steeped in 8,000 years of history, it is typically a cuisine comprised of curries, grains, and plenty of spices with a mind-boggling number of regional varieties. For many it's a common choice on weekday nights when it's easier to pick up the phone and call your local takeaway than to cook from scratch.
The lesser-known facts around Indian food is that the staple ingredients and dishes of this South Asian diet are packed full of our essential nutrients in an assortment of plentiful flavours. Here's why Indian food might just become the next movement in healthy eating.
Get Your Greens in
While everyone has their favourite type of curry, the primary ingredients of a curry will always be heavily vegetable-based, making it easier to fill up your daily fibre and vitamins intake. Frequently used ingredients include nutritionally-dense 'superfoods' like spinach, the leafy green vegetable loaded with large amounts of vitamin K, an essential vitamin in maintaining good bone health along with other beneficial minerals like iron. Another frequent ingredient of curries include chickpeas, a good source of dietary fibre that helps keep you colon healthy by slowing down your digestion and maintaining your blood sugar levels.
Spice It up a Notch
The flavours of Indian food are steeped in a variety of spices, with combinations that are unique to each region of India. One of the essential spices, turmeric, is a spice that has powerful anti-inflammatory effects. Ginger, the traditional remedy for colds and a source of antioxidants, is used to cook numerous regional-specific curries. Besides their healthy benefits, spices pack a whole punch of flavours to Indian dishes that gives it the familiar flavours we know today.
A Bacteria-Fix for Your Gut
Probiotics - otherwise known as the good bacteria in our gut - are popular side dishes of the cuisine that's present in most Indian meals. Raita, a simple and delicious dip made from natural yogurt, cucumber, and mint, is a good way to introduce gut-friendly organisms that aids digestion and boosts your immune system.
Keep the Pan In the Cupboard
While many dishes and palates of Indian cuisine can be good for our health, it's equally important to keep in mind that the method of preparation is key to how they will impact our diet. For one, dishes like tandoori, a marinated chicken recipe which is typically baked and not fried, can lower consumption of saturated fat whilst making it a tasty meal.