There’s no arguing with the fact that Indian food is incredibly tasty. It offers new tastes and textures that simply aren’t found in any other nation’s cuisine, and the enormous variety of dishes and preparations means that you can always try something new. Whether it’s the puffy bread or kabobs cooked in a tandoori oven, the spicy biryani dishes, or one of the many fantastic curries, there’s something for everyone when it comes to Indian cuisine, and people around the world are developing more and more of a taste for the delicious food from the Subcontinent.
There is some concern among health food advocates that eating Indian food isn’t doing your waistline, your cholesterol, or your blood pressure any favors. They cite the copious amounts of ghee and cream used in some dishes, as well as the deep fried options that admittedly taste delicious but do absolutely nothing for your wellbeing. However, if you can minimize the amount of ghee, cream, and deep fried foods that you eat, Indian food can be an incredibly beneficial part of any diet. Need more convincing? Here are five reasons why Indian food is extraordinarily healthy.
There’s an emphasis on fresh vegetables.
While the Standard American Diet (interestingly acronymed SAD) is full of fatty meats, fried potatoes, and processed cheeses galore, Indian food is loaded with nutrient dense vegetables. You’ll find spinach, cauliflower, tomatoes, peas, eggplant, peppers, onions, garlic, and many more, depending on which dish you’re eating. Plus, many Indian dishes are topped with a generous sprinkling of cilantro, an amazingly flavorful herb that’s full of beneficial antioxidants.
Protein means more beans and pulses, less meat.
A little meat in your diet is certainly okay, but Americans rely heavily on animal-based proteins, and that can wreak all sorts of havoc on the body. Indian food uses more beans and pulses for protein, which are known to contribute to longevity, as they contain fewer saturated fats than meat and more complex carbohydrates and nutrients as well. For example, lentils are the foundational ingredient of dal, a cornerstone of Indian cuisine. Lentils have tons of fiber, magnesium, and folate, and regularly consuming them has been shown to help regulate blood sugar. As another example, chickpeas, or garbanzo beans, are also prevalent in many Indian dishes. As an added bonus, eating beans and pulses is more environmentally friendly than eating meat.
The spices are delicious and practically medicinal.
The unique blends of spices present in Indian food may taste magical, but they also offer tremendous health benefits. For example, turmeric and ginger are both known to reduce inflammation in the body and, more importantly, help reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s Disease. In fact, India has some of the lowest Alzheimer’s rates in the world, and nutritionists suspect it’s a result of Indians consuming these spices on a very regular basis. What’s more, it is traditional to chew on whole cardamom and fennel seeds after eating a large meal. Doing this not only cleanses the palate and freshens the breath, but it also helps the body digest all the fiber and nutrient rich food.
The heat is healthy.
Indian food may be chock full of spices, but it can also be spicy hot. Many fans of Indian food love the tongue tingling feeling of a good hot curry or a plate of spicy vegetable biryani, but those red chiles offer health benefits too. The hot peppers contain high amounts of capsaicin, which has both antibacterial and anti-carcinogenic properties, contains lots of antioxidants, and can help boost immunity.
Many dishes include yogurt, a healthy alternative to cream.
Cream is certainly tasty, but in terms of offering health benefits, yogurt is far superior. In addition to providing a good dose of calcium and several key vitamins, it contains probiotic bacteria to keep your digestive system healthy and keep your immunity high. Yogurt is also high in lactic acid, which is is linked to clear and healthy skin.
Many fans of Indian cuisine don’t need any health-related reasons to eat their favorite curries and rice dishes. They know it tastes great, and that’s all the convincing they need. However, there is some talk about Indian food being unhealthy, so pointing out the less-talked-about health benefits of this fascinating cuisine is important. Rather than eschewing Indian food entirely, seek out dishes that are low on meat and high on vegetables, beans, and pulses. Don’t be afraid to add a little heat to your food — that spice is good for you! — and go for preparations that include yogurt rather than cream. You’ll have both a happy stomach and a healthy body, and your taste buds will thank you profusely.