Khaas Baat : A Publication for Indian Americans in Florida

Defeating food evil: refined sugar!



Festival season is in full swing, good vibes and joy prevail with perfect excuse err occasion to indulge/binge on sweets loaded with surplus sugar and flavorful fat. From time immemorial, festivals are strongly associated with food in cultures across the globe. Wise choices even during these times help our health train stay on track and feel at peace with ourselves.

A study at Oregon State University indicates that both high fat and high sugar diet cause changes in gut bacteria that appear related to a significant loss of cognitive flexibility or the power to adapt and adjust to changing situations. This effect was more serious on high sugar diet, which showed an impairment of early learning for both long-term and short-term memory. In this research just after four weeks on either a high fat or high sugar diet, the performance of mice on various tests for physical and mental function began to drop, compared to those on normal diet.

Bacteria in gut can release compounds that act as neurotransmitters, stimulate sensory nerves or the immune system and affect wide range of biological functions. So, in a nutshell, it’s not just the food that’s influencing your brain but also interaction between the food and microbial changes. It does matter how much and what kind of sugar you eat.

Colorful clothes and rainbows on rainy days are a pretty sight but neon-colored sweets not. So, opt for smart sweets that have natural sugar and natural color. Stretch your imagination and you can create healthy colorful sweets such as carrot halwa with dates, any kind of sheera with kesar, banana and dates, fig and nut rolls, date and nut rolls with coconut, dudhi halwa with dates and nuts, walnut halwa or any nut halwa with natural sugar like dates and raisins, baklava with walnuts, almonds, cashew and honey. Fat-wise, ghee is good but avoid butter, margarine, vegetable oils.

Dry fruits like raisins, dates, figs, almonds, cashews provide natural sweetness along with many other benefits such as increase in energy level, promoting satiety, all benefits of high-fiber foods, good source of polyphenols, and their antioxidant activity reduces free radicals in the body, etc. There are more than 13 reasons why dates, one versatile most healthy sugar substitute, demand special attention.

Dates contain dietary fiber, which helps to move waste smoothly through your colon and prevent LDL (bad) cholesterol absorption. One date contains 0.7 grams of fiber, fulfilling 3 percent of your daily recommended fiber intake. The Harvard School of Public Health advises that dietary fiber found in dates binds to fats in the digestive tract and removes them from the body. Potassium helps control your heart rate and blood pressure. Carotenes lutein and zeaxanthin protect against macular degeneration. Iron, important component of hemoglobin, maintains optimal oxygen level in blood. Copper, magnesium, manganese and vitamin B are also present in dates and provide anti-inflammatory functions while boosting energy levels. So, even though dates are sweet and each contains about 5.3 grams of sugar, it’s not a sweet killer like sugar but balances sugar level and energizes our body.

Recipe of the month:

Ragi/chana dalia ladoo

Dry roast ragi flour, oats, cashews in separate pans for about 5-6 minutes. Put dalia in coffee grinder and grind it. Mix both flours, roasted cashews, chopped dates in the chopper and grind it until dates blend with the flours and cashews.

Heat ghee in a pan and sauté the mixture for about 3-4 minutes.

Let it cool, grease your palms with ghee and make little balls with the mixture.

To Our Health!

Bhavi Nirav is a Registered Dietitian/M.S., R.D., L.D., certified yoga practitioner, and can be reached at [email protected]

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