Food Guide: Whole grains

Scientific evidence clearly shows that Whole Grains provide many health benefits such as the reduction of diseases like obesity, diabetes, cancer etc.,.. Whole grains also contain some valuable antioxidants not found in fruits and vegetables, such as B vitamins, vitamin E, magnesium, iron and fiber and other phytochemicals (Jones and Engleson, 2010)..

The following guide provides complete details on many whole grains including ancient grains which are full of proteins and other micronutrients that are not found in white flour. The grains that are listed below should be consumed in a form that includes the bran, germ and endosperm to obtain all the benefits of whole grain foods and flours.


Amaranth is a slightly sticky grain and has a higher level of protein (approx.13-14% protein -lysin) and dietary fibre when compared to most other grains. Amaranth has no gluten, so it must be mixed with wheat to make leavened breads. However, it can be a good option for gluten-free diets.


Barley has a tough hull that is difficult to remove without losing some of the bran. Hulled barley retains more of the whole-grain nutrients but is very slow-cooking. The fiber in barley is especially healthy as it may lower cholesterol even more effectively than oat fiber.


Buckwheat is a distant cousin to rhubarb and actually is not related to wheat or other grains at all. However, buckwheat is the only grain known to have high levels of an antioxidant called rutin, and studies show that it improves circulation and prevents LDL cholesterol from blocking blood vessels.


When wheat kernels are boiled, dried, cracked, then sorted by size, the result is bulgur. Bulgur is most often made from durum wheat, but in fact almost any wheat, hard or soft, red or white, can be made into bulgur. Since bulgur has been precooked and dried, it needs to be boiled for only about 10 minutes to be ready to eat – about the same time as dry pasta. This makes bulgur an extremely nutritious fast food for quick side dishes, or salads. Bulgur has more fiber than quinoa, oats, millet, buckwheat or corn.


Fresh corn on the cob. Popcorn. Corn cakes. Polenta. Tortillas. Corn muffins. Eating corn with beans creates a complementary mix of amino acids that raises the protein value to humans. A new study shows that corn has the highest level of antioxidants of any grain or vegetable – almost twice the antioxidant activity of apples!


This is an ancient Egyptian word for wheat. It is rich and buttery-tasting and has higher levels of protein than common wheat, and more Vitamin E as well.


Foxtail millet (Setaria italica) is a common food in parts of India. Scientists at Sri Venkateswara University have studied its health benefits in diabetic rats, and concluded that the millet produced a “significant fall (70%) in blood glucose” while having no such effect in normal rats. Diabetic rats fed millet also showed significantly lower levels of triglycerides, and total/LDL/VLDL cholesterol, while exhibiting an increase in HDL cholesterol. Pathophysiology. Sept 23, 2010 [Epub ahead of print]


In India and some other countries, sprouted (malted) grains are commonly used as weaning foods for infants and as easily-digested foods for the elderly and the infirm. A study at the Central Food Technological Research Institute in Mysore, India, measured the changes caused by malting finger millet, wheat and barley. They found that malting millet increased the bio-accessibility of iron (> 300%) and manganese (17%), and calcium (“marginally”), while reducing bio-accessibility of zinc and making no difference in copper. The effects of malting on the different minerals, however, varied widely from grain to grain. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. 14 July 2010; 58(13):8100-3.


It is a \"pseudo-cereal\" with a high level of protein (15 to 19 percent) and a more complete balance of amino acids than most grains. Kañiwa is such a tiny grain with such specialized uses that you are unlikely to encounter it in refined form. Research shows that kañiwa is high in the antioxidant quercetin.


Oats have a sweet flavor,which is unique among grains and oats almost never have their bran and germ removed in processing. So if you see oats or oat flour on the label, relax: you are virtually guaranteed to be getting whole grain. Scientific studies have concluded that like barley and oats contain a special kind of fiber called beta-glucan found to be especially effective in lowering cholesterol. Recent research reports indicate that oats also have a unique antioxidant, avenanthramides, that helps protect blood vessels from the damaging effects of LDL cholesterol.


Quinoa (keen-wah) cooks in about 10-12 minutes, creating a light, fluffy side dish. It can also be incorporated into soups; chappathi flour, idli and dosa batter, paniyaram, salads and baked goods. The abundant protein in quinoa is a complete protein, which means that it contains all the essential amino acids our bodies cannot make on their own.


Finger millet (Eleusine coracana L.) is an important millet grown extensively in various regions of India and Africa, and is used as a staple food for a large segment of the population in these countries. It ranks sixth in production after wheat, rice, maize, sorghum and bajra in India. It is a naked caryopsis with brick red-coloured seed coat and is generally used in the form of the whole meal for the preparation of traditional foods, such as roti (unleavened breads or pancake), mudde (dumpling) and ambali (thin porridge). Finger millet contains about 5–8% protein, 1–2% ether extractives, 65–75% carbohydrates, 15–20% dietary fiber and 2.5–3.5% minerals (Chethan and Malleshi 2007a). It also has the highest calcium content among all cereals (344 mg/100 g). Other components found in the millet include phytates (0.48%), polyphenols, tannins (0.61%), trypsin inhibitory factors, and dietary fiber.


The National Institute of Nutrition in Hyderabad, India, carried out a study of the total phenolic content and antioxidant activity of various pulses, legumes and cereals, including millets. Finger millet and Rajmah (a type of bean) were highest in antioxidant activity, while finger millet and black gram dhal (a type of lentil) had the highest total phenolic content. Indian Journal of Biochemistry and Biophysics. February 2009; 46(1):112-5.


The National Institute of Nutrition in Hyderabad, India, carried out a study of the total phenolic content and antioxidant activity of various pulses, legumes and cereals, including millets. Finger millet and Rajmah (a type of bean) were highest in antioxidant activity, while finger millet and black gram dhal (a type of lentil) had the highest total phenolic content. Indian Journal of Biochemistry and Biophysics. February 2009; 46(1):112-5.


Millet is very easy to digest; it contains a high amount of lecithin and is excellent for strengthening the nervous system. Millets are rich in B vitamins, especially niacin, B6 and folic acid, as well as the minerals calcium and iron,. Millet does not contain gluten, so it is not suited for making raised bread, but is good for people who are gluten-intolerant.

Millet also contains an essential phytonutrient called Lignans, which is very beneficial to the human body. Under the action of interstitial friendly flora, they are converted to mammalian lignans, which act against different types of hormone dependent cancers, like breast cancer and also help reduce the risk of heart disease.

  • Regular consumption of millet is very beneficial for postmenopausal women suffering from signs of cardiovascular disease, like high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels.
  • Children’s intake of whole grains like millet and fish has been shown to reduce the occurrence of wheezing and asthma.
  • For more information about the benefits of consuming whole grains and how to use it in healthy Indian cooking


White rice is refined by removing the germ and the bran. Converted rice is parboiled before refining; this process drives some of the B vitamins into the endosperm so that they are not lost when the bran is removed. As a result, converted rice is healthier than regular white rice. However, it still lacks many nutrients found in brown rice. Rice is one of the most easily-digested grains – one reason rice cereal is often recommended as a baby’s first solid food. This makes rice ideal for those on a restricted diet such as a gluten-free diet.


Rye is unusual among grains because it contains high levels of fiber not only in its bran, but also in its endosperm. Due to this, rye products generally have a lower glycemic index than products made from wheat and most other grains, making them especially healthy for diabetics. The type of fiber in rye promotes a rapid feeling of fullness, making rye foods also a good choice for people trying to lose weight.


Worldwide, about 50% of sorghum goes to human consumption. Since sorghum is a gluten-free grain, it is especially popular among those with celiac disease.


Spelt is the best of grains and is rich and nourishing and milder in flavor than other grains. Spelt is higher in protein than common wheat. There are anecdotal reports that some people sensitive to wheat can tolerate spelt, but no reliable medical studies have addressed that issue.


This is a nutritious and easy-to-grow type of millet and it is getting more attention for its sweet, molasses-like flavor and its versatility. Teff has over twice the iron of other grains, and three times the calcium as well.


Triticale (trit-i-KAY-lee) is the new kid on the block, a hybrid of durum wheat and rye that’s been grown commercially for only thirty-five years.


Wheat has come to dominate the grains we eat because it contains large amounts of gluten, a stretchy protein that enables bakers to create satisfying risen breads. It is almost impossible to make an acceptable risen loaf without at least some wheat mixed in. Two main varieties of wheat are widely eaten. Durum wheat (Triticum turgidum durum) is made into pasta, while bread wheat (Triticum aestivum vulgare) is used for most other wheat foods.

Food Guide: Legumes

Legumes or pulses are an excellent source of protein, dietary fiber and complex (low glycemic index) carbohydrates. Legumes and pulses are flavorful, nutritionally dense, inexpensive and versatile. Dried beans, peas and lentils are simply mature beans that are dried and then removed from their pods. Here is a dictionary of our favorite varieties and how they help us:

Adzuki bean

Dark red beans that are sweet and easy to digest.

Anasazi Beans

They are an excellent substitute for pinto beans. Combine these with cumin, garlic and orange juice or toss them with olive oil, cilantro and chopped veggies for two incomparable salads. Prepare Curries made of Anasazi beans by using them to replace Dhal and try out different recipes.

Black-Eyed Peas

Peas are a particularly useful all-round food, containing good amounts of vitamin B1, (thiamin), as well as vitamins C, B6, B3 and B2, folate, provitamin A ,carotenoids, iron and zinc. Garbanzo Beans (Chickpeas) This is a prominent ingredient in Indian dishes as well as in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean dishes like hummus and falafel. It has a mild but hearty flavor and goes well with strong spices like curry powder, cumin and cayenne pepper. They can also be added to salads, soups, noodles, rice based dishes and pasta dishes.

Green Lentils

These lentils hold their shape well and have a deep, rich flavor. They are an excellent addition to salads, spicy Indian dhal or simple lentils and rice. Green Split Peas

Split peas are great in soups where they can be cooked until creamy to bring out their full, sweet flavor. Serve them with a dollop of minted yogurt for an Indian touch.

Kidney Beans

These large, red beans are popular in chili, salads, soups and baked beans. Make sure to cook them until completely tender and cooked through to eliminate the gastric distress-causing toxin Phytohaemagglutinin (Kidney Bean Lectin) that is present in raw and undercooked kidney beans.

Mung Beans

Mung beans range in color from greenish-brown to yellow to black and have a delicate, sweet flavor. They need no pre-soaking, they cook quickly and are a very easy to digest form of protein.

Red Beans

These small, dark red beans are subtly sweet and hold their shape when cooked. They make a great choice for curries, soups and chili and as a companion to rice.

Red Lentils

Red lentils cook quickly and do not hold their shape so they are best when used in soups or purées or cooked until creamy with Indian seasonings.

Split Peas

While green peas are picked while immature and eaten fresh, dried peas are harvested when mature, stripped of their husks, split and dried. Split peas do not require presoaking and their mild flavor and creamy texture make good companions to garlic, onions, dill, curry and ginger. Learn how to identify, select, and cook beans. Try out different recipes and post your recipes to For more information about healthy cooking classes and to book your session

Food Guide: Nuts and OIls

Nuts and oilseeds are complex plant foods that are not only rich sources of unsaturated fats, but also contain several non fat constituents such as plant protein, fibre, micronutrients such as copper and magnesium, plant sterols and phytochemicals (Rainey and Nyquist, 1997). Frequency of nut consumption seems to be inversely related to all causes of mortality in several population groups (Fraser et al., 1997; Fraser and Shavlik, 1997). Peanuts are commonly mistaken for a nut, when in fact it is a legume. It is consumed widely and often used similarly to tree nuts. The protein content of nuts range from 10 percent as in walnuts to 17 percent in almonds; the dietary fiber ranges from 5 percent in macadamia nuts to 10–14 percent in almonds and pistachios. The fat content of nuts ranges from about 35 percent in coconuts to over 70 percent in macadamia nuts. Most nuts are rich sources of monounsaturated fatty acids, with the exception of coconuts which contain predominantly saturated fat and walnuts which contain primarily polyunsaturated fat. Nuts also supply important micronutrients as well as other beneficial biologically active components [5,9]. Some tree nuts, especially almonds and hazelnuts, are good sources of vitamin E and other tocopherols, while nuts also provide some niacin, B6, folic acid, magnesium, zinc, copper, and potassium. Phytochemicals, many of them antioxidants such as phenolic compounds, add to protective properties of nuts. Additionally, peanuts are similar to soy beans, in that they also contain phytoestrogens, which is thought to play an important role in protecting health.

Learn more about Nuts:

  • Almonds: They are calcium-rich and have a sweet flavor and are sold in many forms such as whole, shelled, raw, blanched, sliced, slivered and dry-roasted, and are available year round.
  • Brazil Nuts: Brazil nuts only come from magnificent, large trees that grow wild in the Amazon rain forest. Similar to coconut in texture, the sweet, rich meat of Brazil nuts is eaten raw or roasted.
  • Cashews: The cashew tree is related to poison ivy and poison sumac. However, this rich, curved nut is actually lower in total fat than most nuts and is always a crowd favorite and particularly flavorful in cookies and cakes.
  • Chestnuts: The lowest in fat of all nuts, chestnuts are appreciated for their flavorful contribution to soups, stuffing and stews as well as the holiday tradition of eating them roasted. Chestnuts are available fresh only in autumn, but dried, canned and pureed versions are available year round.
  • Flax Seeds: Flax seeds are the richest plant source of omega-3 fatty acids and are high in fiber to boot. Although identical in nutritional, brown flax seeds have a deep, nutty flavor while golden flax seeds are mild. They can both be added to breads, cookies and smoothies or sprinkled on cereal and salads.
  • Hazelnuts: Bakers and confectioners are partial to these nutrient dense nuts, which can be made into butter, flour, oil and paste because of their rich flavor and texture that lend themselves so well to desserts and snack foods.
  • Hemp Seeds: Hemp seeds are a healthful food with an omega 3 profile very similar to flax seeds. They’re also similar in flavor to sunflower or flax seeds and can be used in or on baked goods, salads, yogurt and cereal.
  • Macadamia Nuts: These sinfully rich and creamy nuts have the highest fat profile of all nuts and are among the most expensive ones available.
  • Peanuts: Peanuts which are actually legumes and not nuts at all, contain a good deal of both protein and fiber.
  • Pecans: These natives to the southern Mississippi River valley are buttery and slightly bittersweet. They stand out in pies, quick breads, cakes, cookies, candies and ice cream.
  • Pine Nuts: Pine nuts are also called pinolos, pignon or pignoli nuts and are the edible seeds of pine trees. These delicious little nuts are the essential ingredient in fresh pesto and are great when sprinkled over salads.
  • Pistachios: Pistachios have beige shells with nuts that range from dull yellow to deep green. Primarily sold as a snack food, they’re easily adaptable to recipes where pecans or other nuts are used.
  • Pumpkin Seeds: Roasted pumpkin seeds are commonly eaten in casseroles, salads, soups and breads. Their rich, peanut-like flavor makes them a terrific snack food.
  • Sesame Seeds: Sesame seeds are frequently sprinkled on breads and cakes as a form of decoration, but they are delicious in flavor as well.
  • Sunflower Seeds: Sunflowers belong to the daisy family and are native to North America. Their shelled seeds are delicious when eaten raw or toasted, added to cakes and breads or sprinkled on salads or cereals.
  • Walnuts: Walnuts have come into greater favor recently because they contain omega-3 fatty acids which is a heart-healthy compound. In addition to their purported health benefits, walnuts also add texture and toothsome flavor to pastas, salads, stir fries and desserts. Talk to our Registered Dietitians / Nutritionist to plan your healthy Nutrition / diet

Food Guide: Olives

Even though more attention has been sometimes given to their delicious oil than their whole food delights, olives are one of the world\'s most widely enjoyed foods. Olives are actually a fruit and it is one of the oldest foods known to man. There are two different types of olives; black olives and green olives. The only difference between green olives and black olives is ripeness. Unripe olives are green, whereas fully ripe olives are black and both have the same nutrient content.


Researchers found that all types and forms of olives including olive fruit (black olives and green olives), extra virgin olive oil and even processed and refined virgin olive oil all have the same potential health benefits (Owen et al.,)


Only olive oil, among all cooking oils, has enough flavours to make it a satisfying replacement for butter and margarine. Olive oil can be a healthier alternative to butter, margarine, and polyunsaturated oils because it contains mostly monounsaturated fat or “good fat” which is very important for increasing HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol).Olive oil can be used to sauté, season, bake and roast. It can be used in stews, pastas and on salads. To make palatable and healthy recipes switch from butter and margarine to olive oil.


Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits - Olives are a great source of vitamin E, which has the brilliant ability to neutralize free radicals in body fat. Olives are a health-supportive food, particularly in terms of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits. Cancer - A phytonutrient present in the olive helps in prevention of cancer and bone loss. In traditional herbal medicine practices, preparations from olives and olive leaves have often been used in treatment of inflammatory problems, including allergy-related inflammation (Othman et al., 2008). Studies have shown that a diet supplemented with olive oil leads to a lower risk of colon cancer, almost as low a risk as a diet rich in fish oil. Heart health - Olives do contain fat, but it is the healthy monounsaturated kind, which has been found to shrink the risk of atherosclerosis and increase good cholesterol. The anti-inflammatory abilities of the monounsaturated fats, vitamin E and polyphenols in olives may also help dull the asperity of asthma, osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis. Eye health – Olives are rich in vitamin A. It enables the eye to better distinguish between light and dark, thereby improving night vision. Furthermore, Vitamin A is believed to be effective against cataracts, macular degeneration, glaucoma and other age-related ocular diseases. Skin and hair health - Olives are rich in fatty acids and antioxidants that nourish, hydrate and protect the skin and hair.


Even though olives have a high fat content of 15 to 35 percent, they are an excellent source of oleic acid (an omega-9 monounsaturated fatty acid) (Murray, 2005).


Olive is a good source of iron and vitamin E. It contains 4.44 mg of iron, which is 24.7 percent of the daily value. Iron helps to enhance the oxygen distribution in your body, aids your body in energy production and keeps your immune system healthy.


One serving of olives contains 4.03 mg of vitamin E. Vitamin E helps to protect your skin from ultraviolet light, aids in the communication of cells, prevents cells damage from free radicals and helps to protect against prostate cancer and Alzheimer\'s disease.


Olives include 0.34 mg of copper. Copper helps your body in the utilization of iron and reduces tissue damage from free radicals. It also helps to maintain the health of bones and connective tissues, preservation in the myelin sheath that protects your nerves, aids in the production of melanin and assists in keeping your thyroid gland functioning normally.


Olives have 4.3 g of fiber. Dietary fibers help the digestive system with elimination, such as pushing the food through the body to prevent or reduce constipation. In addition, fiber helps to lower your risk of diabetes, heart disease and diverticulitis.


Rice is a very versatile grain. It is the staple diet for more than half of the world’s population. It is principally consumed in Asia. Ninety percent of the world’s rice is produced and consumed in Asia and it accounts for 20% –70% of total caloric intake. Types of rice There are numerous varieties of rice but some of the commonly used varieties are brown rice, milled rice, paddy rice or rough rice, broken rice, rice bran, stabilized rice bran, organic rice, parboiled rice, instant rice and parboiled rice.

Nutritive value of rice

Calories The major source of calories in rice is carbohydrate. A portion comes from fat and proteins. One cup of white rice contains 242 calories.


The major carbohydrate of rice is starch which is 72-75%. Rice also contains some free sugars like glucose, sucrose, dextrose and fructose. The carbohydrate in brown rice is comparatively less than white rice. Fiber content of brown rice is more than white rice. One cup of brown rice serving contains 46 g of carbohydrates (4 g fiber) while one cup of white rice contains 53 g of carbohydrates (1 g fiber).


The protein content of rice is 7%. It is much lower than that of the wheat. The nutritive value of rice protein is considered to be superior to that of the wheat and other cereal products because the biological value of rice protein is 80 whereas wheat protein has 66 and maize protein has 50.

Vitamins and Minerals

In mineral content rice resembles other cereals. Polished rice is poor in calcium and iron. Colored types of rice contain more iron than the white rice. The phosphorous content is high and also it contains some of the trace elements. Rice is a source of multiple B vitamins that contributes to energy metabolism. White rice has a high content of thiamin and folate whereas brown rice has a moderate amount of thiamin. Brown rice and white rice are a rich source of manganese and magnesium and also containsselenium, phosphorous, iron, zinc and copper.


Rice contains enzymes such as amylases, proteases, lipases, oxidases, peroxidases and phenolases. The activity of the alpha amylase in fresh rice is probably responsible for its sticky consistency after cooking. This enzyme gets inactivated during storage and cooked grains get separated easily.

Health benefits of rice Rice is easy to digest. It is low in cholesterol, low in fat and high in starch. It is a rich source of energy, as it is comprised of 77.5% carbohydrate. Rice is a good source of vitamins and minerals such as niacin, thiamine, iron, riboflavin, vitamin D, calcium, potassium and fiber. It is non-allergenic and contains resistant starch, low amounts of sugar, and no gluten. Rice is also a low-sodium food for those with hypertension. It is a fair source of protein containing all eight amino acids. Even though rice contains large amounts of vitamins, minerals and protein, it also contains a lot of carbohydrate and therefore should be consumed in moderation. One bowl of cooked rice both white or brown or even herbal rice has calories that are equal to 10 teaspoons of sugar. Brown rice is richer in fiber and has some B vitamins and minerals but still its caloric value is very high. Rice, when thoroughly cooked, becomes sugar and increases circulating blood sugar within half an hour. Rice when taken in bulk reduces the absorption of vital nutrients like zinc, iron and the B vitamins.


Sweeteners have been used for food since prehistoric times, probably starting with the discovery of honey. The desire for sweet taste is inherent in every individual. They are food additives that are utilized in order to simulate a sense of sweetness in the person consuming the product.

Types of sweeteners

There are two types of sweeteners, namely natural nutritive sweeteners and artificial non- nutritive sweeteners.. Sucrose, dextrose, honey, agave syrup, high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup or corn sugar, fructose, sorbitol, xylitol, isomalt, mannitol and maltose are natural sweeteners. Saccharin, acesulfame K, aspartame, sucralose and cyclamate are artificial sweeteners that are used in food industry in very small concentration as they are much sweeter than sugar and are required only in small amounts to achieve the same level of sweetness. Interestingly, Stevia is a natural sweetener that is considered to be a non-nutritive sweetener because it is an extract refined from the leaves of the Stevia plant but it contains only negligible amount of calories.

Health benefits and nutritive value of natural sweeteners

Too much sugar is of course a major contribution to our caloric intake and weight gain, but it is an ingredient that seems hard to avoid or resist. However, not all sweeteners are harmful and some natural sweeteners even have some health benefits.

Honey is a natural sweetener. It has been a sugar substitute for centuries. Due to its low glycemic index, it is ideal for the purpose of weight loss. Honey is rich in antioxidants, which can protect your body from a variety of illnesses. It can also treat insomnia, beautify the skin, help wounds heal and promote digestion.

Stevia is a sweet tasting natural herb. Although it is not available as a sweetener, it can be bought as a dietary supplement. It can be safely used in tea, coffee, sweets and other foods. It is low in calories and it has other health benefits for those suffering from diabetes, hypertension, dental problems, dermatitis, acne, stomach ache and digestive problems,. It helps decrease blood sugar in patients with type 2 diabetes and improves insulin resistance and also provides anti-inflammatory and immune supportive actions. It is considered to be one of the best natural sweeteners among all.

Maple Syrup - Most people think about using maple syrup only when they are baking bread or pancakes; however, it can be used as a substitute for sugar in many ways. It has many health benefits like promoting heart health, boosting the immune system and lowering the risk of prostrate and other cancer

Date Sugar is a sweetener that is not actually a form of sugar. It is an extract made from dehydrated dates. It is used as a substitute for regular sugar, because it is a healthier alternative. It contains essential minerals such as iron, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, zinc and selenium, and it is effective in improving cognitive functions, maintaining healthy blood pressure, enhancing immune system and relieving migraine, asthma and sore muscles.

Artificial sweeteners are also known as intense sweeteners because they are many times sweeter than regular sugar. Artificial sweeteners and other sugar substitutes are found in a variety of food and beverages marketed as \"sugar-free\" or \"diet,\" including soft drinks, chewing gum, jellies, baked goods, candy, fruit juice and ice cream. However, it should be noted that artificial sweeteners cause obesity and depression. They have been linked to insomnia, headaches, giddiness, loss of memory, nausea, pre-menstrual syndrome, panic attacks, epileptic fits, and even overstimulation of breast glands leading to breast cancer. Aspartame in particular may cause extensive damage to the central nervous system.


Pasta is the Italian word for \"paste.\" All pasta is made from dough of grain flour mixed with water. Pasta is a type of noodle and it is the staple food of traditional Italian cuisine. Typically pasta is made from unleavened dough of wheat flour or from maize, some whole grains etc., and then it is mixed with water and formed into sheets or various shapes, before being cooked and served in any number of dishes. It can be made with flour from other cereals or grains, and eggs may be used instead of water.


Pastas are divided into two broad categories, dried and fresh. Both dried and fresh pasta come in a number of shapes like flat, smooth, solid, hollow, and twisted with 310 specific varieties. Macaroni means the pasta is made with semolina or from refined durum wheat. Macaroni comes in many shapes: spaghetti, elbow macaroni, shells, etc.

Ingredients used in pasta

Pasta dough has been made mostly of wheat flour or semolina. Regionally other grains have been used, including those from barley, buckwheat, durum wheat, rye, rice and maize (corn), as well as chickpea flours.

Culinary uses

Pasta is usually paired with fresh vegetables, olives, tomato sauce, garlic, herbs and seafood.

Health benefits of pasta

There are several health benefits of consuming pasta, especially whole wheat pasta. Whole wheat pasta is low in calories and contains considerable amounts of minerals including, magnesium, iron, calcium, potassium, zinc, selenium and manganese.

Pasta is normally eaten in combination with other foods that are rich in nutrients. Fiber, vitamins for example, can be found in vegetables, beans, fish, tomato sauce, cheese and meats such as poultry.

Corn pasta has less protein than wheat pasta, but it is more easily digested by gluten-sensitive persons.

Another benefit to eating pasta is that it provides niacin for the body. This vitamin is essential for bodily functions, such as converting carbohydrates into glucose, to produce energy.

Minerals are important for the body because they help with the structure of bones, regulate heart beat, maintain muscle, and help in regulating cell growth.

Pasta contains complex carbohydrates which release energy more slowly compared to sugar, providing energy for a longer time. It only has small amounts of sodium, and no cholesterol.

Enriched pasta also contains folic acid that is beneficial to child-bearing women. Folic acid is needed for the proper growth of cells and thedevelopment of the embryo. Pasta has a low Glycemic Index; therefore its carbohydrates are slowly absorbed. Pasta is considered to be a good source of protein for vegetarians because it contains extensive amounts of proteins that consist of six essential amino acids.


Vegetables are plants or parts of plants that are used as food. Vegetables supply many nutrients besides providing variety to the diet. Though Indian population is mostly vegetarian, the intake of vegetables can be very low in the daily diet.

Classification and nutritive value of vegetables Vegetables are classified according to the parts of the plant consumed or color of the vegetable or according to their nutritive values. Nutritionally they are classified into 3 groups,

Green leafy vegetables

These are vegetables containing leaves such as cabbage, lettuce, spinach, amaranth, fenugreek leaves, coriander leaves and mint leaves. Among green leafy vegetables agathi is considered to be the most nutritious one.

Leaves are low in carbohydrates and energy but they are good sources of beta carotene, calcium, riboflavin, folic acid, ascorbic acid, iron and vitamin K.

Drumstick leaves are inexpensive greens and it is an easily available kitchen plant that is rich in fibre, iron and calcium. Like fruits, green leafy vegetables also supply vitamin C. Roots and tubers Roots and tubers include beet root, carrot, colocasia, big onion, small onion, potato, pink radish, white radish, sweet potato, tapioca and yam. Roots and tubers provide more calories when compared to green leafy vegetables because they contain more starches. Other vegetables

Some of the other commonly used vegetables in India are bitter gourd, bottle gourd, broad beans, brinjal, cauliflower, cluster beans, cucumber, drumstick, capsicum, ladies finger, raw mango, green plantain and green tomatoes. Many of these vegetables contribute to the fibre content of the diet.

Green Plantain contains high amounts of iron. Capsicum is high in vitamin C and vegetables like cabbage, carrot, cauliflower, lettuce, onion, spinach and tomato also supply calcium in minor quantities. Vegetables like carrot, peas, turnip, beans, tomato, sweet potato, green vegetable and cabbage are observed to be very good suppliers of Vitamin A.

Eat at least 5-7 servings of fresh vegetables every day especially seasonal vegetables. It is best to try and include a variety in vegetable types and colours in your diet.

Yellow and orange color vegetables are rich in Vitamin A, α, β carotenes, zea-xanthins and crypto-xanthins, whereas dark green vegetables are very good source of minerals, flavonoids as well as anthocyanin anti-oxidants.

Health benefits of vegetables

Potassium helps in maintaining healthy blood pressure. Dietary fiber from vegetables helps reduce blood cholesterol levels and may lower the risk of heart disease. Eating a diet rich in vegetables may reduce the risk for stroke, other cardiovascular diseases and type-2 diabetes.

Folate (folic acid) helps the body form red blood cells. Women of childbearing age who may become pregnant and those in the first trimester of pregnancy need adequate folate to reduce the risk of neural tube defects and spina bifida during fetal development.

Eating a diet rich in vegetables as part of an overall healthy diet may also protect against certain cancers.The high levels of potassium in vegetables also reduce the risk of developing kidney stones and help to decrease bone loss.


Fruits are fleshy or pulpy in character and often juicy and sweet with fragrant, aromatic flavors. Many hundreds of fruits, including fleshy fruits like apple, peach, pear, kiwifruit, watermelon and mango are commercially valuable as human food, eaten fresh and as jams, marmalade and other preserves.

Classification of fruits:

Based upon the shape, cell structure, type of seed or the natural habitat, they are classified into groups like berries, citrus fruits, drupes, grapes, melons, pomes, tropical and subtropical fruits.

  • Berries: Strawberries, gooseberries, blackberries, raspberries, blueberries and cranberries.
  • Citrus fruits: Sweet limes, oranges, tangerines, sour oranges, lime, lemon and grape fruit.
  • Drupes: Apricot, sweet cherry, peach and plums.
  • Grapes: Green grapes, black grapes and seedless grapes.
  • Melons: Musk melon and water melon.
  • Pomes: Apple and pears.

Tropical and subtropical fruits: Amla, avocado, banana, dates, guava, jack fruit, mango, jambu fruit, papaya, passion fruit, pineapple, pomegranate, sapota and seetaphal.

Health benefits and nutritive value of fruits:

Fruits contain essential minerals and vitamins that help and protect body from diseases, all kinds of fruits are a natural remedy for many diseases and are full of antioxidants which protect against diseases like cancer and help prevent cell damage. Fruits are a very poor source of fat with avocado being the only exception as it contains 28% fat. Mangoes are the richest source of beta carotene.
  • Fruits are not very good sources of calories; fruits like bananas give fairly good amount of calories and ripe fruit have a higher percentage of sugar than unripe fruit. The sugar in fruits is chiefly in the form of sucrose, fructose and glucose.
  • Regular consumption of fruit is associated with reduced risks of cancer, cardiovascular disease (especially coronary heart disease), stroke, Alzheimer disease, cataracts, and some of the functional declines associated with aging.
  • Diets that include a sufficient amount of potassium from fruits and vegetables also help reduce the chance of developing kidney stones and may help reduce the effects of bone-loss.
  • Fruits are also low in calories which would help lower calorie intake as part of a weight-loss diet.
  • Fruits contain vitamins like vitamin C, E, D, and B complex, minerals like iron, manganese, sodium, magnesium
  • and potassium. They protect against many chronic diseases like cancer, hypertension, cholesterol, and diabetes. They also regulate blood circulation and digestion.
  • Each color found in the fruits has been noted to provide specific benefits; for example red fruits protect against heart disease, prevent blood clots and improve blood circulation. They are a rich source of antioxidants which protect against cancers.
  • Yellow and orange fruits contain high amount of carotene which are used by the body to make vitamin A and they are a good source of vitamin C that is vital for eyes and skin.
  • Green fruits boost the immune system and are good for eyes and skin.
  • White fruits are good for lowering cholesterol; regulating blood pressure and preventing cancer.
  • Sauces and Dressings

    Sauce is a liquid, creamy or semi-solid food served on or used in preparing other foods. Sauces are used to add flavor, moisture, and visual appeal to dishes. Sauces are an essential element in cuisines all over the world. Sauces may be used for savory dishes or for desserts. Sauces are available as ready to eat foods like ketchup or soy sauce or it can be freshly prepared by the cook. Sauces used for salads are called salad dressing. Sauces made by deglazing a pan are called pan sauces.

    Types of sauces

    Sauces appear in many forms. There are sauces used to pour over certain foods to bring moisture and extra flavor to the meal, other thicker sauces are added to the side of the plate. Sauces are available in both forms like sweet and spicy. Sweet sauces such as chocolate sauce, butterscotch sauce, brandy sauce or the versatile custard are poured over desserts to add more essence. Spicy sauces like chili sauce, tomato sauce, soya sauce, black butter sauce, warm butter sauce, mayonnaise etc., are good choices for savory recipes.

    Health benefits of sauces

    • Not all sauces are unhealthy. Sauces are not only used for its good taste; they also have some of the health benefits.
    • For instance tomato is rich in the phytochemical lycopene, which is a very good antioxidant. Due to this, the consumption of cooked tomatoes reduces the risk of cancer. Lycopene has been considered as a potential agent for prevention of prostate cancer.
    • Niacin, found in soy sauce, can promote heart health by helping to lower levels of triglycerides or fats in the bloodstream while raising the levels of HDL, or healthy cholesterol. It is also good for the general health of the skin, nerves and digestive system. A trace mineral found in soy sauce has antioxidant effects which fight against the free radicals that can damage cell membranes and DNA.

    Dressings and their health benefits

    Salad dressings are an emulsion which is a mixture of two unblendable liquids, in which one is liquid (vinegar) forms tiny droplets in another one one (oil). When the vinegar is suspended in the oil, it forms a thick, glossy mixture so it enhances the taste as well as gives pleasing sensation to the recipe. Commonly used ingredients in dressings are oils, vinegars, vegetables, fruits, nuts etc.,.

    Extra-virgin olive oil is the classic choice for most dressings. Nut oils such as walnut or hazelnut have a very strong flavor, so mix them with a mild olive oil. These oils are a good source of polyunsaturated fatty acid which contains a heart-healthy fat profile. They are a good source of protein and dietary fiber. They contain many essential vitamins, especially B vitamins. They are also an excellent source of minerals, such as magnesium, phosphorus, copper and manganese.

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