We proudly display our culinary skills to our friends and the rest of the world and it is nice to see and taste the great Indian vegetarian food. We only focus on the Color, Variety and taste, forgetting the health aspect of our food and the ingredients that go into the making of this food. It is sad to note that, in spite of our rich culinary heritage and culture most of us are totally unaware of the unhealthy methods, ingredients, and style that go into the making of the Vegetarian dishes. Gone are the days when you could eat a hearty whole meal in a traditional Indian home. Mass consumption, production and most important of all ?business is taking a toll on the real essence of vegetarian food. More and more people are falling prey to extra refined food ingredients, non nutritious cooking methods and processed food culture.
It is important for each one of us to check in advance as to what goes into the making of a so called great dish.
Refined White rice: The fiber rich bran also rich in minerals, amino acids, vitamin B complex, E and Oryzanol is discarded leaving behind only the white starch which has no nutritional value. Highly Constipating.
Unfortunately this is the rice served in almost all Indian homes and restaurants alike.
Refined Wheat Flour (Maida): More people are falling prey to this slow poison. All the nutrients and fiber present in the Bran and Germ layers of the grain are discarded leaving behind only the endosperm layer, which has no nutritional value. The only advantage is longer shelf life. Highly Constipating.
All the Indian Breads including Paratha, Naan, Kulcha, Roti, Puri, Samosas are normally made of this ingredient.
Refined Sugar: This product is the curse of modern life. A highly toxic product which uses lots of chemicals and Animal Charcoal (Vegetarians ?.Beware!!!! ) in the refining and bleaching processes thus removing all nutrients in the process and leaving behind a sweet poison..
Used almost in all food as a main sweetening agent.
Margarine (Hydrogenated Fats and oils): This is used as butter in most of the places for its economy. Hydrogenation of oils, with removal of essential fatty acids, is used in the food industry for the sole purpose of prolonging the shelf life of processed foods .This is a highly toxic substance whose only use can be attributed to the blockage of arteries,diabetes and cancer.
Red/ Green Chilies: Highly corrosive/irritant ingredient due to the presence of capsaicin that depletes the mucous membrane, reducing the defense of the human body. An excellent ingredient to produce oral, peptic and duodenal ulcers, gastritis and bowel irritation.
Refined oil / Oil for frying: Any oil irrespective of its caste, creed, color if heated becomes toxic. Deep frying is an invitation to all cardiac diseases .Oil should only be used for cold dressings. Poor nutrition, high calories and obesity.
Tomatoes: Used in almost all Indian dishes irrespective of the geographical region. This is a fruit that absorbs lead from the atmosphere. High in oxalic and Uric acids.
Confirmed to cause renal problems like Kidney Stones and gall bladder stones. Heavy metal poisoning.
Coffee/ Tea/Cocoa: The presence of Caffeine/Tannin/Theobromine make these stimulants (alkaloids) very dangerous. They alter the nervous system of a person, constrict blood vessels, increase blood pressure, reduce appetite, and also cause constipation. They can be classified as stress creators than stress relievers.
Artificial coloring and flavors: These are nothing but hardcore chemicals. Some of the artificial colors like red no 5, Yellow no 5 (Tartrazine) are totally banned in many countries. They are mainly used in all the Indian food industry for their economy and to bring out striking colors to the food.
These are highly toxic substances and are confirmed carcinogenic agents.
Flavors like Aginomoto ( Monosodium glutamate ) are also very dangerous chemicals (flavors) that are very dangerous for consumption and proved carcinogens.
Processed milk and dairy products: Look out for the ingredients in these products. It is always advisable to buy fresh milk for no one knows what gets into the pasteurization and packing process.
Soy Products: A magic formula of this millennium. A highly toxic product that is entering the market like a storm. It is found in practically all the food products in the form of emulsifier, soy oil, soy milk, soy lecithin, soy chunks. Consumption of this product has been proved to be very bad for health. Research has revealed that consumption of this product inhibits the absorption of nutrients by the body, causes male sterility, hormonal imbalance amongst many other serious health related problems. It is common to find soy enriched wheat flour in the market.
It is sad to note that age old cooking practices, authentic, healthy and whole ingredients that form the basis of Indian Vegetarian cooking are fast dying out. If no effort is made to revive our ancient cooking practices, food may be tastier and colorful but definitely we wont be able to "boast" of a healthy culinary experience.
Author: Dr Srivatsa- Mangalore