By Naini Setalvad July 2008 Snacks tend to be salty, sugary or fried and therefore unhealthy. here are some tasty alternatives Snacks are an integral part of our diet. Unfortunately, they tend to be salty, sugary or fried. Familiar snacks like vada pav, puris, pizza, chivda, chips, cakes, though hard to resist, have little to offer other than empty calories, and a craving for more. So, should you forgo the yummy temptations altogether? Is there a sensible alternative that is healthy, full of satiety value, and nutritionally sound? There are plenty of options, if you care to look around. They are not as boring or tasteless as perhaps you imagine. The effects of certain foods that we have been consuming all along are more dangerous than we realise. We have always believed that they are a part of our daily food intake, and never gave it a second thought. Well, if you did, you would be rudely jolted out of your complacency. Here are some startling facts on what excessive intake of any of these could do to you.White flour• Digestive disorders • Poor eyesight • Anaemia• Tiredness and irritability• Weakening of bones (osteoporosis)• Increase in blood sugar ( diabetes )• ObesityWhite sugar• Because it is refined, it is devoid of vitamins, minerals and nutrients • Contributes to obesity• Suppresses the immune system• Causes hyperactivity, anxiety, difficulty in concentrating, and cranky behaviour in children and adults• Produces a significant rise in triglycerides and cholesterol levels• Causes hypoglycaemia and diabetes • Causes premature ageing and osteoporosis• Robs you of vitamin B • Contributes to eczema in children • Causes bowel problems, especially constipation• Can adversely affect performance in school that could lead to learning disorders. Can also cause depression • Sugar in excess may be one of the causes of prostate gland cancer • Cancer cells multiply with sugar • In women, sugar increases PMS syndrome Fried foods Fried foods have high fat content and are energy dense. They lead to undesirable weight gain • Frying leads to undesirable alteration in the chemical composition of oils especially during deep frying. This irritates and damages the inner lining of the gut which may cause bowel upsets manifesting as abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting or diarrhoea • Prolonged heating of oil at high temperature results in formation of several other harmful chemicals. One of them is acrolein, which irritates the gut lining, and is a cancer-causing compound. Reheating of polyunsaturated fats also produce toxic substances such as polymerised products, peroxides and free radicals • At high temperature, the natural form of fats may undergo change into ‘trans’ form, forming trans-fatty acids. Trans-fatty acids increase blood cholesterol levels even more than pure ghee or animal fat. They also reduce HDL (good) cholesterol and increase the tendency of blood clotting, thus increasing the risk of coronary heart disease • At high temperatures many nutrients especially vitamins and dietary proteins are destroyed. There is progressive loss of vitamins A and E at temperatures above 150 degrees Celsius. • Fried foods with their high fat content are unsuitable for those suffering from indigestion. They are not as easily digested as boiled, steamed and baked foods Replace • Opt for baking, boiling or steaming instead of frying food • Instead of using white sugar for sweetening, substitute with jaggery, honey, or dry fruits wherever possible The healthier alternatives• Fruits (rich in anti-oxidants, high in fibre, contains natural sugar, low in glycaemic index, high content of water, and are a good source of carbohydrate)• Freshly chopped vegetables with salsa, yoghurt dip, or hummus (contain fibre, roughage, anti-oxidants, vitamins)• Dried fruits – dates, raisins, figs, apricots, prunes (contain good fats, vitamins, boost energy levels and immunity, low in calories)• Nuts – almonds, pistachios, cashews, walnuts (good source of essential fatty acids such as omega 3, vitamin E, lowers cholesterol, boosts energy levels)• Seeds – pumpkin, sunflower (essential fat, high in vitamins and minerals, calcium) • Wholegrain bread, vegetable sandwiches with chutney, salsa, mustard (whole wheat is an excellent source of dietary fibre, vitamins B and E, reduces risk of cardiovascular diseases and diabetes) • Poha/upma with vegetables• Salted popcorn (carbohydrate, fibre)• Baked potato (low in calories, high in carbohydrates, good source of energy)• Corn on the cob/ Corn bhel / boiled corn with masala (excellent source of fibre, good; for memory)• Low-fat yoghurt (good quality probiotic bacteria, low in glycaemic index, contains a small percentage of vitamin B, good for the skin and hair)• Whole wheat frankies stuffed with paneer/corn/spinach/potato masala • Steamed idli with coconut chutney (good source of carbohydrate and protein, good satiety value. Coconut chutney has natural saturated fat, and is high in vitamin E)• Uttappa stuffed with onion, capsicum, tomatoes (anti-oxidants) • Sprouts bhel (protein, living food, high in fibre)• Potato with jacket with mixed vegetable salsa • Wholegrain biscuits Yummy recipesCorn melodyIngredients• 50 gms yellow corn• 50 gms french beans, chopped• 50 gms carrots, chopped • 100 gms shelled green peas• 2 to 3 tbsp green chilli and ginger paste&bul; salt to taste • ½ cup coriander, freshly chopped• ¼ cup grated coconut • ½ cup milk • 1 teaspoon olive oil• ¼ tsp. mustard seeds• a pinch of asafoetida• 7 to 8 curry leavesMethod• Crush the yellow corn in a blender• Boil the vegetables till half done and strain• In a pan heat oil and add mustard seeds to it. When it starts to splutter add asafoetida, curry leaves, corn, milk, vegetables, salt, ginger, and chilli paste to it• Let it cook for sometime. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking to the pan • When the corn is tender, remove from the fire. Stir in chopped coriander and grated coconut. Serve hotMasala idlisIngredients• 5 to 6 steamed idlis • tomato, chopped • green capsicum, chopped • onion, chopped • tbsp pav bhaji masala&bull tbsp red chilli powder• salt to taste• tsp. oilMethod• Cut the idlis into cubes.• Heat oil and add chopped vegetables and masala to it.• Fry for sometime and then add the idlis.• Mix well and serve hot.Paneer cutletsIngredients• 150 gms paneer, crumbled• 4 potatoes, boiled and mashed• 1 onion, chopped finely• 5 to 6 green chillies• a small piece of cabbage, chopped finely• coriander for garnishing• brown breadcrumbs• salt to tasteMethod• Mix all the ingredients and shape into cutlets.• Coat with breadcrumbs and cook on a nonstick pan till brown. Serve hot.Masala green channaIngredients• cup green channa, soaked and boiled • ½ cup capsicum in all colours, chopped• 1 tsp. chaat masala• ½ tsp pav bhaji masala• salt to taste• ½ tsp red chilli powder• ½ tsp amchur powder • 1 green chilli, chopped finely • ½ cup chopped onion • 1 tsp oil • ¼ cup chopped corianderMethod• Boil the chana with salt and set aside.• Heat oil in a pan• Add all the chopped vegetables to it along with the masala • Mix well and add the boiled chana •Garnish with chopped coriander and serve hotNaini Setalvad is an obesity and health food consultant, columnist for leading newspapers, and conducts workshops on healthy eating.Contact: firstname.lastname@example.orgWe welcome your comments and suggestions on this article. Mail us at email@example.com
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