We all eat the same things broadly… potatoes, oranges, carrots, salmon, chicken, eggplant, bread… in varying proportions of course. But do we all manage the same kind of nutrients and goodness out of the same set of ingredients? Maybe not! Some people manage to derive more goodness out of their food, and the reasons are pretty simple actually. Have listed three main ones; go though and see which of these are you following already, and which you’d like to.
Try to keep your palate happy. Because when you eat tasteless food, or stuff that is not appealing to the eye (we eat with our eyes too), then the nutrients absorbed from the food are less. No, I am not making this up, there are enough studies that show this, and there is sound science behind this. Basically our digestive system gets revved up when we begin to eat something that our brain anticipates enjoying, and nutrients are better absorbed. So keep heart, you’ll absorb more antioxidants from a pretty looking colorful fruit salad compared to say something like an insipid, limp, boiled cabbage dish. So pay attention to aesthetics too as far as food is concerned.
Fruits and Veggies
Speaking of fruits and colour, it is important to know that it is not a cliche, but is in fact a fact – that a diet that is ‘very rich’ in fruits and vegetables is our best known bet for preventing almost all chronic diseases. By very rich I mean simply following the 5-a-day rule, and make it varied, meaning add as many different colors as possible. It is not a tall order, but still doesn’t get done (ask yourself?), ‘coz we are always way too busy, or simply uninterested to incorporate them enough in our diet. But it’s time to change that. Science has moved way beyond the macro nutrients – protein, fats, carbohydrates… and now it is well known, that the anti-disorders’ cocktail of ingredients – the phytochemicals and antioxidants found in fruits and vegetables, actually call the shot as far as our health status is concerned.
These are the ones that repair, energize and help ward off unwanted invaders in the body. Also try to span the entire spectrum (of colours), as the broader the range of colours you eat, the greater the health benefits will be. Plus it is important not to discard the peels as many (most) of these phytochemicals are concentrated right there. Discarding the peel means shortchanging the nutrients derived from the food. And you wouldn’t want that. Right!
Also when we cook, it is important not to chop the vegetables in very small pieces. In fact having them as near ‘whole’ as possible is a great idea. US’s Agricultural Research Service has found that potatoes retain 50 per cent more potassium when cooked whole than when they are chopped, and another study has shown that cooked whole carrots retain 25 per cent more of the cancer-fighting compounds. Ditto for other vegetables too. Another important thing to do is to not leave the vegetables in water for too long after cutting; most of the electrolytes leach out. Ideally wash and then chop and cook right away.
Incorporate these simple changes – we need all the nutrition we can garner to stay fit in these trying times.
Kavita Devgan is a Nutritionist, Weight Management Consultant and Health Writer based in Delhi. She contributes to the column Kavita’s Korner every Wednesday for this blog.
Follow her on Twitter here: @kavitadevgan