Many people believe that a vegetarian diet cannot supply your body with sufficient protein and other essential nutrientsQuite often, people associate ‘being healthy’ or ‘getting stronger’ with consuming a primarily non-vegetarian diet as it contains high amount of protein. However, when we talk about superfoods, one cannot ignore vegetarian options as they are easily available, healthy and already a part of the Indian diet. One of the fulfilling benefits of a vegetarian diet is knowing what to eat so that one could stock up on sufficient amount of protein, fibre, vitamins and other vital nutrients to lead a healthy and hearty lifestyle.
Let’s take a look at some vegetarian superfoods and their health benefits:
TPart of the legume family, and very much a part of the traditional Indian diet, beans supply the body with fibre, iron, protein and essential minerals like potassium and magnesium. Be it while serving a helping of pindi chhole (kabuli chana) or rajma masala (rajma) or alsandalu (chawli or lobia), beans help in controlling our appetites, keeping our bodies sated and improving heart health.
Another integral member of the legume family, lentils – toor dal (yellow split pigeon peas), masoor dal (red lentils), moong dal (yellow split lentils) and urad dal (black gram lentils), amongst many others – have been known as powerhouses of protein and dietary fibre. Apart from being one of the ace vegetarian sources for muscle building, ‘dals’ have been known to help in reducing cholesterol levels, support bowel movements and have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
3. Dark green leafy vegetables:
A great source of dietary fibre, folate, vitamins (A, C and K) and minerals (iron and calcium), dark green leafy vegetables can surely provide the benefits of a vegetarian diet in several different ways – boil it in a soup, add it to a salad or make a smoothie out of it. Dark greens are good for eye and mental health as well.
4. Whole grains:
Whole grains – wheat, bajra (pearl millet), jowar (sorghum), ragi (finger millet) and rajgira (amaranth) amongst others – in their unpolished form, help retain the nutritional goodness and provide the body with essential nutrients such as fibre, B vitamins, carbohydrates and minerals (copper, iron and zinc). They help us in managing obesity, diabetes and heart-related diseases.
5. Nuts and seeds:
One can obtain healthy fats, protein and several minerals from nuts and seeds. While eating nuts such as almonds, cashews, groundnuts and walnuts might be a common thing in India, there are many innovative ways of incorporating them in our diet –adding sesame seeds to the tadka or simply eating seeds such as flax and pumpkin seeds as a snack. Seeds are great sources of fibre, healthy monounsaturated fats, polyunsaturated fats and many important vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. They are known to help in improving prostate health and reducing blood pressure.
Dairy products – milk, cheese, cream, paneer (cottage cheese) and curds – are an integral part of the Indian diet. A good source of calcium, essential vitamins and minerals, and protein, dairy products help in improving bone health and heart health, often recommended for convalescing mothers, growing children and senior citizens. Try adding dahi to your diet as it is a natural probiotic and contains live bacteria that aid digestion and are said to boost immunity.
Vegetarian or non-vegetarian, one must look into how to keep one’s diet nutrient-rich and wholesome. Another way of ensuring nutritional goodness is picking ingredients that are available in an unprocessed and unrefined form. Like Tata Sampann’s range of pulses – unpolished, grain size of a uniform range and low on moisture. Incorporate these vegetarian superfoods in your diet, exercise daily and adopt a few mindfulness techniques to lead a healthy life.
- All About Beans Nutrition, Health Benefits, Preparation and Use in Menus [NDSU]
- Role of lentils (Lens culinaris L.) in human health and nutrition: a review [Research Gate]
- Nutrients and bioactives in green leafy vegetables and cognitive decline [NCBI]
- Health Benefits of Nut Consumption [NCBI]
- New health benefits of dairy products [Research Gate]
- Whole grains and public health [NCBI]
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