Wellness: 12 Indian superfoods that you must include in your diet
Superfood is basically a category of food that is rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, and thus providing multiple health benefits. Often when one thinks of a superfood, they assume it to be an imported item like broccoli or kale among other products.
“But, that’s not true. Superfoods have existed among the primary ingredients of Indian cuisine for centuries,” shares Rishi Manucha, Executive Chef, Taj Fort Aguada Resort & Spa, Goa.
Stating that local and seasonal ingredients are best classified under ‘superfood’ for the region, he adds, “Harnessing its potential nutritional value helps in developing a stronger immune system. Buying or using readily available resources in our own localities and surroundings also helps promote a healthy and sustainable economic environment. And, though Matcha, Acai Berry and Maca Root sound oh-so exotic, they are not an easy find in India,” Suggesting an alternative on World Food Safety Day, Chef Rishi Manucha lists down some local food items that cost half and provide the same nutrients:
1. Try Indian Gooseberry instead of Acai Berry
Remember buying the all-time favourite khatta-meetha amla from street carts when we were young? It's 20 times richer in Vitamin C than its foreign friend Acai Berry, which has similar anti-ageing and immunity-boosting properties. While we all are well-informed about this powerhouse ingredient, this is yet another reminder to include it in our diet more often.
2. Try Beet Greens instead of Kale
We do find Kale in selective supermarkets and grocery stores in big cities, but we can't deny the fact that it's extremely expensive. Rich in Vitamin A and K, copper, manganese, iron and calcium, Beet Greens is a cheaper alternative with equivalent nutritional properties. We usually throw the greens away that come with beetroots, but it needs to change now. A must in your diet, it is low in calories and rich in vitamin A, K, calcium, copper and manganese.
Also read | Eight superfoods to cleanse and enhance your liver health
3. Try Indian Blackberry (Kaala Jamun) instead of Goji Berries
Indian Blackberry is our desi alternative to Goji Berries that originally come from China. Suitable for people suffering from diabetes, the Indian Blackberry is a backyard-grown all-rounder for tiredness, throat pain, controlling blood sugar levels and helps build stronger immunity.
4. Try Ashwagandha instead of Ginseng
Ginseng has been a part of traditional Chinese medicine for centuries. It reduces inflammation, improves brain function, boosts immunity, increases energy levels and is also a potential cancer fighter. The Indian alternative, Ashwagandha is a popular Ayurvedic concoction that helps strengthen the body. It is also cheaper and perfect when going vocal for local.
5. Try Asparagus Racemosus (Shatavari) instead of Maca Roots
Originally from Peru, the Maca Root exploded on the internet a few years ago and even has its own hashtag #MacaMaca on Instagram. If we deep dive into Ayurveda, it is said that the Indian Asparagus or Shatavari which is an alternative to Maca Root is one of the most powerful herbs. Similar in nature and form, it can help with PMS, indigestion, heartburn, UTIs, irritable bowel syndrome and mood swings.
6. Try Indian Moringa instead of Matcha Tea
The Japanese Matcha tea is the new big thing and the newest green tea import from Japan. While it's a great source of antioxidants, reduces the risk of heart diseases, aids immunity, good mood, and weight loss; the Indian Moringa has over 10 times more fibre, 30 times more protein, and 100 times more calcium than its Japanese friend, in terms of nutrition.
One of the rare Indian fruits, Jackfruit is rich in carbohydrates, vitamins, electrolytes, fibre and phytonutrients. It can replenish your energy instantly.
8. Local berries: A powerhouse of vitamins, minerals, fibre and antioxidants, berries can be consumed during breakfast, lunch, dinner or as a mid-day snack.
9. Turmeric: If used regularly, turmeric can help promote the cardiovascular system and fight certain types of cancers. This herb is excellent for detoxification.
10. Broken Wheat or Daliya: It is rich in fibre, Vitamin B and manganese.
11. Lotus Seed: Also known as makhanas, they are rich in minerals such as iron, magnesium and zinc.
12. Finger Millet or Ragi: Rich in iron and vitamin D, Ragi is also excellent for those suffering from diabetes.