In recent times, we have seen a shift towards traditional Indian recipes and ancient cooking techniques. Celebrity nutritionists to health experts – among all of these experts, there is a growing inclination towards all things Indian and authentic. Millets, for instance, are slowly making their way into our diet and being incorporated into restaurant menus and diet plans. However, what about deep-fried Indian snacks like pakoras, samosas and desserts like rasgulla? Are they unhealthy for us or can we consume them in limited amounts? Recently, a report sheds some light on this very phenomenon of choosing Western snacks over their Indian counterparts.
‘Indian Cuisine At A Crossroad’: All About This Latest Report
The ASSOCHAM Foundation has released a comprehensive report titled ‘Indian Cuisine at a Crossroad’, unveiled by Union Minister Piyush Goyal in the light of India’s G20 presidency this year. It explores India’s food journey over the years and studies the health and nutrition quotient of traditional Indian foods.
- While popular belief is that Indian food is less healthy and calorie-heavy, the report suggests that Indian snacks, drinks and sweets have fewer calories than their foreign counterparts.
- The report compared multiple Indian food items like gulab jamun, pav bhaji, vada pav with options such as chocolate cake and burgers.
- Further, the report suggested that they are prepared using fresh produce and spices, unlike non-traditional foods which have preservatives, emulsifiers and acidity regulators in them. “Unlike traditional Indian foods which are prepared, generally fresh, non-traditional foods listed use preservatives and additives, making them greatly unhealthy-way more than their calorie content,” states the report.
- We also tend to pair these Western and fast food items like pizzas and burgers with fizzy drinks and sodas, thus increasing the calorific value of the meal.
- Meanwhile, in dishes like dosa and aloo paratha, there is protein and fibre that keeps us full for longer and thus make for a better choice. The humble Indian thali too is considered an excellent choice for a healthy and balanced meal.
🚨📢 ASSOCHAM Foundation releases comprehensive report “Indian Cuisine at a Crossroad” unveiled by @PiyushGoyal at ASSOCHAM Annual Session Bharat@100. The report emphasizes factors driving Indian food choices with a nationwide study of 5000 participants in 15 cities. pic.twitter.com/S1A1bEgKhD
— ASSOCHAM (@ASSOCHAM4India) April 17, 2023
Is Indian Diet Healthier Than Western Diet? Experts Weigh In
Experts from the health and food industry discussed and debated about this new report. Many of them agreed that Indian cuisine has various options that can prove to be healthy additions to a balanced diet.
“Indian cuisine, with its emphasis on plant-based foods, legumes, and a variety of herbs and spices, offers potential health benefits. The use of spices in Indian cooking has anti-inflammatory properties that may help reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. Also, the thermic effect of spices used in Indian food increases metabolic health, which may help with weight management,” said Kajal Aggarwal, a Delhi-based dietitian and nutritionist.
Also Read: 7 Common Indian Foods That Are Rich In Fibre
Meanwhile, in the Western diet, there are other problems such as unhealthy ingredients being used that could cause health issues. “Western diets can be high in processed foods, unhealthy fats, and added sugars, which can lead to chronic diseases. Meat-based dishes and fried foods are commonly found in Western diets, which can contribute to digestive issues such as gastrointestinal problems,” adds Aggarwal.
Mumbai-based nutritionist Karishma Chawla also agrees, “Remember that the processed food industry puts in a lot of money to increase the taste and cravings of such foods where you can’t overcome temptation. We literally have no control. Besides that most packaged foods have gluten in them, making it even worse for gut health.”
Which Foods To Choose For Better Health? Our Verdict
So, should we cut off Western foods entirely from our diet and focus primarily on Indian foods? Are traditional recipes all that we should consume? Experts feel that the answer is not simple and it’s about making the right choice and practicing portion control. “If you just want to indulge or give into temptation, give into traditional foods with the least ingredients to ensure some quality and quantity control! We must learn to indulge in any with moderation. If you are going to prepare the food yourself, you can add in better alternatives to take care of damage control,” explains Chawla.
“It is important to choose healthier options and limit the consumption of processed foods, unhealthy fats, and added sugars in both Indian and Western diets. Both Indian traditional food and Western food can provide a balanced and healthy diet if chosen carefully,” concludes Aggarwal.