Articles on organic food

Organic Foods Are Not Diet Foods

Ms. Swati Kapoor, Dietitian/Nutritionist
"Are you one of those who pick up food products labeled organic expecting them to be lower in calorie count than their non organic counterparts?"Well, that’s not always the case. In fact, there is hardly any connection between organic and low calorie/diet products.This article will help you understand the two terms and relation between them.First we should know the meaning of two terms.Diet foods are regular foods which are altered in some way to be made a part of a diet which is intended to cause body modifications such as weight loss and weight gain.Organic foods, on the other hand, are food products grown naturally, i.e. without the use of fertilizers, pesticides, artificial additives, growth hormones, etc.Organic foods are fresher, cleaner, environment friendly and animals raised organically are not fed with animal by products or any kind of growth hormones. These foods are free from chemicals and hence reduce the chemical load on our body and do not accelerate weight loss/gain in any unnatural way. Weight loss/gain is dependant on calorie intake.For eg, there is little to no difference in the calorie count of organically grown and non-organically grown apples.Thus, there is no correlation between organic foods and diet foods.There can be an occasional indirect relation, such as in the case of certain diet foods like low fat yoghurt, low fat milk, sugar free sweets, soy products etc. which contain ingredients that are organically grown/raised.

6 Not So Healthy Foods

Ms. Swati Kapoor, Dietitian/Nutritionist
If you look out for healthy snacks in the grocery store, you need to read this to know which healthy snacks are really healthy, and which are not.Unfortunately some of the not so healthy products are being commercially sold to people  as “Healthy/Diet Foods”. Here are a few examples that will tell you how and why they are not so healthy:Diet:Snacks (Namkeens): The original snacks foods (namkeens) have been forced to share the shelf space with the "diet namkeens" that are baked or roasted as opposed to being fried. Now, is the cooking method sufficient enough to transform them from being unhealthy to being healthy? Not exactly! Let's show you how - what has been conveniently overlooked is the ingredients that make these healthy namkeens that still remain unchanged. These namkeens might still be high in sodium, sugar, oil & other ingredients like unhealthy flour, and are only relatively healthier than the original namkeens.Granola Bar: Granola bars are being promoted as a quick energy snack. Most of the granola bar varieties being sold commercially are full of sugar, corn syrup, and saturated fat. In reality these bars are almost equivalent to the cookies in their health contentEnergy Drinks: Popularity of energy drinks has been mostly contributed by sportsmen/women and athletes endorsing it as an instant energy source. However keep in mind that the people endorsing these need quick resources of energy to keep them going. This is not always applicable source is not applicable to the average person with a sedentary or a mildly active lifestyle, which in comparison are not as physically demanding as playing a sport! These energy drinks are high on sugar content, which as you know .. excess sugar in the body promotes fat storage.Low Fat Salad Dressing: Summers are approaching and salads will be the most popular meal option once again.  With the increasing health awareness “low-fat” has found its way to the salad dressings arranged on the shelves of the grocery stores. While these new low fat salad dressings offer a reduced amount of fat, the taste is often salvaged by adding sugar. If you want low-fat salad dressing you can create them at home with simple ingredients like lime juice, olive oil, vinegar & home-made yogurt.Fruit juices: Most packaged fruit juice is not 100% fruit juice. Packaged fruit juices use added sugar and sweeteners to enhance the taste. Besides this, the main fiber of the natural fruit pulp is missing from the packaged fruit juices. If you are feeling thirsty hydrate yourself with plain water. As for nutrition there is no substitute for fruits in their natural form.Diet Sodas: There are multiple studies around this, to know if diet soda is bad for your health.Also studies have shown, people consume higher portions of 'healthy snacks'. While the calorie density might not be much lower, people might actually land up consuming more calories than when snacking on the 'original snacks'.

How Green Is My Food?

Dr. Sangeeta Malu, Dietitian/Nutritionist
All over the world, people are gravitating towards organic foods to counter the synthetic explosion in the food chain. Here's a crash course in the basics of organic foods and their labels so that you can make the right choices. How organic is your food?You've heard the term, you've seen the goods, but what does organic really mean? Are garden vegetables organic? Are the herbs you grow in your kitchen organic? Not necessarily. The term organic refers to the way agricultural products are grown and processed. There are very specific requirements that must be met in order for a food to be classified as organic. Before you go running out to start your organic kitchen garden for the summer, you must know that in order for your produce to be labelled organic it must be: Grown in safe soil. You can't mess around with the water table, so it's either the fancy Japanese grass or the plump tomatoes.The produce cannot be modified. You can't really buy the shiny seed packets from the supermarket because those have been genetically engineered to give shinier produce.Free of synthetic pesticides. If you have your heart set on the most luscious fruit-bearing garden, you will have to physically work harder on it. A little sprinkle of urea is a big no-no.Understanding those labelsHere's a quick guide to understand what you're picking off the rack. 100% Organic: These foods are completely organic and do not contain anything otherwise. Organic: These foods contain at least 95% organic ingredients. Made with organic ingredients: These foods have been made using at least 70% organic ingredients. Eat healthy, save the earthOrganic practices in agriculture encourage soil and water conservation, reduce pollution, and use non-chemical fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides. So take the plunge, live like you care! Adopt a healthier, environmentally conscious life and opt for organic foods. Not only are they better for you; they're also way cooler than regular stuff.

Healthy Foods That Are Actually Junk Foods!

Ms. Swati Kapoor, Dietitian/Nutritionist
With a busy lifestyle, everyone wants quick, tasty, reasonably priced and easily available foods. Though you may think that they might be healthy options but they are completely opposite. Here are some foods mentioned which many of us might consider healthy but actually are unhealthy foods.1. Instant noodles Maggi/ noodles hardly take any time to cook and taste good but all you are adding to your body is refined flour. The wax present in them forms a layer in our intestine which takes at least three days to flush out from our system. You can swap this with a vegetable upma or poha. It will provide you with good carbs and the veggies will add fibre making it a complete meal.2. Cornflakes with milk Many of us think this is a safe breakfast option as it contains milk but the truth is that the flakes you eat only add more sugar to your diet and not much nutrition. It will only add more weight to your body. Instead of this, you can switch to daliya or muesli with skimmed milk and a handful of nuts sprinkled on the top. This will give you fibre with essential fatty acids and other essential nutrients.3. Fruit Juice/ Packaged Juice You may think that gulping down a glass of a preserved fruit juice is a great way to start your day, but they are mostly packed with sugar. Switch to a better idea have orange itself rather than juice. Whole fruit offers you all the vitamins and minerals, along with tummy-filling fibre that can help tame hunger pangs until lunch. Or you can also replace orange juice with 1 glass of low-fat milk or skimmed milk.4. Pasta/White Pasta Pasta/white bread is an empty calorie food as it is made from refined and processed flour. This means that it is deficient in nutrients. Instead of white pasta/white bread you can opt for whole wheat pasta, whole wheat rolls (stuffed with veggies or paneer), and multi-grain bread.5. Diet Soda Diet sodas are actually empty calorie as they contain only artificial sweeteners and no essential nutrients in it, which increases the risk of certain types of cancer. Instead of energising yourself with diet colas, you can switch yourself to lemon water or coconut water.6. Fat-free Foods Just because a product is labeled ‘fat-free’ or ‘low-fat’ doesn't mean it’s healthier or even lower in calories. Fat-free products lack fat, but they make up by adding sugars or other unhealthy ingredients. Some of the most popular low fat foods are baked potato chips, diet namkeen, frozen yoghurt, nutralite butter, etc.In fact, when people are given foods marked as low fat, they chow down 25 to 44 percent more calories than when foods are labeled as regular fat.From the nutritional standpoint the above mentioned foods are not considered as healthy due to nutrient deficient. Practical piece of advice eat healthy, manage portion control, stick to natural foods and exercise. This the only way you can lose weight and keep it off.

10 Healthy Foods for Women: For Better Fitness

Ms. Swati Kapoor, Dietitian/Nutritionist
A healthy diet gives you energy, supports your mood, maintains your weight, and keeps you looking your best. It can also be a huge support through the different stages in life. The importance of regular workout and healthy foods for women helps to reduce Premenstrual syndrome, boost immunity, combat stress, make pregnancy and nursing easier, and ease symptoms of menopause.10 Healthy Foods for Women1. Calcium-Rich FoodsCalcium helps keep bones strong and along with regular weight-bearing exercise, helps to prevent the risk of osteoporosis.- 4 to 8 years: 800 milligrams Healthy foods for women are low-fat dairy products, dark green leafy vegetables, fortified cereals etc. Check this list to see how much calcium you need each day:- 9 to 13 years: 1300 milligrams- 14 to 18 years: 1300 milligrams- 19 to 50 years: 1000 milligrams- 51 to 70+ years: 1200 milligrams2. Iron-Rich FoodsDue to their monthly cycles, pre-menopausal women need more iron. Good sources of iron are rice flakes, sprouts, beetroot, spinach, tofu, pomegranate, dried apricots, and jaggery.Women need 12 to 15 milligrams of iron each day, compared to just 10 to 12 milligrams for men.3. Fruits Rich in Vitamin CAnother important list of healthy foods for women are fruits rich in Vitamin C. These include citrus fruits, strawberries, green and red peppers, mustard greens, broccoli, spinach, tomatoes, potatoes, kiwi, guava and parsley. In addition to contributing to overall health, fruits rich in vitamin C, an antioxidant, have recently been linked to a decreased risk of coronary heart disease. Fit two to three servings (or more) of fruit into your daily diet. The RDA for vitamin C for women is 75 milligrams a day.4. Green Leafy VegetablesThis category of vegetable includes everything from spinach, methi to darker lettuces and can be considered as a nutritious and healthy food for women. These vegetables provide important nutrients as well as fiber (aim for 20 to 35 grams each day) to the diet. Try to get at least three servings of vegetables each day.5. NutsNuts are very healthy foods for women as it is full of monounsaturated fats, which can help lower cholesterol levels, and polyunsaturated fats, which can help prevent heart disease. Nuts are a good source of protein, calcium, phosphorus, zinc, copper, selenium, folate, vitamin E and vitamin A. Nuts pack a lot of calories into their tiny packages, so try to limit your serving to 5-7 a day.6. WaterWater is important for all metabolic processes in the body. It also helps with digestion, weight loss and improves the appearance of the skin. Drinking 8 to 10 glasses of water each day is the key. Eating foods with a high water content (like fruits and certain vegetables) will also contribute to your waterintake.7. Cranberries and Cranberry JuiceThe proanthocyanidins found in cranberries help prevent bacteria from sticking to the walls of the bladder, thus warding off urinary tract infections (UTIs). New research also suggests that cranberries may promote cardiovascular health.8. Foods Rich in FolateHealthy foods for women like asparagus, oranges, fortified cereals and beans which are rich in folate is important during pregnancy for ensuring proper neural tube development of the foetus and has been shown to be important for heart health. Make sure to get an RDA of 400 micrograms (mcg) per day.9. Whole GrainsWhole grains are high in fiber and therefore help wave off digestive problems that are so common inwomen. Try to incorporate more whole grains like brown rice, bran flakes, whole-grain breads, into your diet.10. Soy ProteinSoy protein is found in products like tofu and soymilk to soy nut butter and cereal. Soy protein is heart healthy and (helps lower "bad" cholesterol levels), is rich in phytonutrients and also consider as one of the most healthy food for women. Aim for up to 25 grams of soy protein per day.

Best Foods to Fight Depression

Ms. Swati Kapoor, Dietitian/Nutritionist
Depression is a disorder associated with major symptoms such as increased sadness and anxiety, loss of appetite, depressed mood, and a loss of interest in pleasurable activities. Lots of things play a role in getting a person depressed. Most often, it's situational - a loss, a death, a big change in life, social environment, life events, etc. But when it lasts for a very long time, it becomes something more that needs help where the brain doesn't work quite right. Low serotonin levels (the neurotransmitter) are linked to depression, anxiety, insomnia and fatigue.People who are depressed find it difficult to function on a daily basis, they have feelings of worthlessness, and they often lack motivation and are prone to insomnia, in many cases. The benefits of medication and therapy are well known, but there’s another important area to consider, your diet. Important nutrients needed to fight with depression are well described below -Omega-3 Fatty AcidsThese essential fatty acids are needed to build the brain’s neural connections as well as the receptor sites for neurotransmitters such as serotonin. Research has shown people with depression appear to have lower levels of omega-3.Eat more - Oily fish such as salmon, mackerel and sardines. Flax-seeds, chia seeds and walnuts are also good sources.B VitaminsB vitamins are important for nervous system function and the production of energy from food and are considered “anti-stress” nutrients. They help to relieve anxiety and treat depression. Niacin (B3), pyridoxine (B6) and folic acid (B9) all work with the amino acid tryptophan to produce serotonin, the neurotransmitter.Eat more - Legumes, whole grains, nuts, seeds, green leafy veggies, eggs, chicken, red meat and milk.Eat less - Refined grains and processed foods.TryptophanSerotonin, the neurotransmitter responsible to fight depression, is manufactured in the body using the amino acid tryptophan, which must be supplied through the diet. Tryptophan is also needed to produce melatonin, which is vital for getting enough sleep.Eat more - Lean chicken, turkey, beef, brown rice, fish, milk, eggs, cheese, nuts, bananas, peas, pumpkin, potato, corn and spinach.Trace minerals like selenium, zinc, magnesium, etc. along with antioxidant-rich foods too play an important role in the development of brain and helps keep depression at bay.At last I would like to introduce you with the following 5 foods to fight with Depression -1) Nuts & Seeds: They are a good source of protein and magnesium, which help in the production of serotonin, a “feel-good” brain chemical.2) Green Tea: Despite the caffeine, the L-theanine (an amino acid) found in green tea seems to be profoundly relaxing and have a calming effect, up to eight hours.3) Raw Garlic: Garlic’s anti-oxidant properties play an important role in fighting fatigue-causing free radicals. Garlic contains the highest amount of selenium among foods.4) Avocados: Aside from being the highest source of tryptophan, avocados are also one of the richest sources of protein, folate, and the heart-friendly omega-3 fatty acids.5) Fatty-Fish: There's a reason why fish is known as "brain food". Fatty fish such as wild salmon contain the omega-3 fatty acid - DHA, which has been shown to increase the membrane quality and nerve function of gray matter in the brain.

Dangers of Processed Food

Ms. Swati Kapoor, Dietitian/Nutritionist
It is very easy to grab a packet of chips, biscuits just to suppress your hunger for a particular period of time. But once you understand that how these processed foods are made then it becomes easier to select the healthier options instead of going for processed foods on daily basis. Following are the reasons which are going to reflect why one should not include processed foods on the daily basis.1. Processed foods ruin digestionBecause all the nutrients, vitamins are completely stripped of the food product once it gets into processing steps. It actually weakens our digestive system and allows harmful bacteria to enter in our body. One should always make healthier options before choosing any of the processed foods.2. Processed foods triggers health problemsProcessed foods contain various preservatives, additives so that a product shelf life won’t effect. But these additives which contain specifically phosphates can affect our kidneys and also weaken our bones as per one of the researches. And some of the studies also showed that refined sugars, processed flours, vegetable oils and many other ingredients commonly found in processed foods are largely responsible for the chronic inflammation problems in body.3. Processed Foods contain pesticidesIn order to work more for genetically modified foods, the farmers have to apply pesticides which can end up into final product so in this way processed foods have high chances of having pesticides in comparison with fresh food groups.4. Processed foods can be addictive and lead to weight gainProcessed foods tend to over stimulate the production of dopamine, also known as the "pleasure" neurotransmitter, which makes you crave them constantly. So, your body tempts to eat much more than the normal intake which in time make the person addictive as well as it add unnecessary fat in the body.

6 Reasons Why Street Food Is Unhealthier Than You Thought?

Ms. Swati Kapoor, Dietitian/Nutritionist
You've heard about how deep fried foods aren't good for health because of the high calorie content, and not being heart healthy! Turns out, they are actually worse for your health, than you thought they were! See the 6 reasonsWe told you if which chaat is healthiest. Most popular street foods are fried at some point: aloo tikki – kachori- aloo filled samosas - chole bhature – pav bhaji. Most of these are fried (which facilitates quick preparation), high in fat and sodium, and low in fiber, vitamins & minerals. Let’s show you how these foods are unhealthier than you thought:Trans: These food are deep fried in oil which is used repeatedly for frying, often over a period of days. There are 2 problems with this. First, its fried in oil which naturally has high saturated fat, since its cheaper. Then, the oil is heated for days (as mentioned earlier). This process of heating oil for a long really increases the trans-fatty acid content in the food. In countries like the US, foods with trans fatty acids are banned, because these trans fatty acids basically enter your blood stream. Since the body cannot process them, they clog your arteries, which can even lead to cancers, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and many chronic diseases.Read to know more about trans fats and how to avoid it.Calorie Density: You already know this, but just to make a point, the Nutrition and Food Science Journal reported that Indian snacks are very energy-dense (148-603kcal/100g) and trans-fat varies from 0.1 to 19.8g/100g.Cancer: These street foods are fried at high temperatures, for quick frying, to produce large quantities. Repeated use of oil for deep frying, makes it go past their smoke points, which contain a large quantity of free radicals which contributing  to risk of cancer. In order to end multiplication of free radicals. Read more on Antioxidant rich foods.Glucose spiking: Almost all the street foods have their main ingredient as maida. It has a high glycemic index, so it spikes your blood sugar, and promotes fat storage, besides increasing your risk of diabetes & heart disease.Sodium Load: To increase shelf life, and flavour, street foods loaded with salt (one chicken burger or one small french fries pack can contain more than 1000 milligrams of sodium). This high consumption of salt can lead to hypertension and even predispose to water retention.Get know tips to reduce water weight.Microbial Count: Last but not the least, the unhygienic handling of street foods , use of unsafe water and exposure to street pollution, are just few of the things that increases the number of  bacteria in the plate.So, be aware the next time you dig into street food!

The Food Pyramid - Explained

Ms. Swati Kapoor, Dietitian/Nutritionist
Food pyramid is the basic guide which helps us plan a healthy diet according to our body’s requirement. There are a variety of choices which are highlighted by food groups mentioned in a pyramid shape. Individuals should eat different foods from each food group to ensure they obtain all the nutrients their body needs in appropriate proportions. There are several food pyramid plans recommended by health professionals today. The most widely known food pyramid was introduced by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) in the year 1992, was updated in 2005, and then replaced in 2011.In 1992, food pyramid became the most useful and influential guide in history. It  was considered as a total dietary approach for nutrient adequacy and moderation in order to bring awareness to the new food patterns. This was widely adopted as an icon and used by various nutritionists, Dietitians and many other medical professionals related to this field. The Food pyramid includes all the major food groups with the correct frequency and amounts that one should have for a healthy and fit body.It was updated in 2005 with colorful vertical wedges replacing the horizontal sections and renamed My Pyramid. My Pyramid was often displayed with the food images absent, creating a more abstract design. In an effort to restructure food nutrition guidelines, the USDA rolled out its new My Plate program in June 2011.Apart from USDA there are over 25 other countries and organizations who have also published food pyramids. Out of this one is Asian food pyramid. This Pyramid is based on a generalized summary of the traditional healthy diets of Asian populations, in the light of current nutrition research. The basic premises of the Asian Diet Pyramid, have received strong international support from leading nutrition scientists and medical specialists as useful alternatives to the 1992 U.S. Food Guide Pyramid. For example, the Food Guide Pyramid lumps some animal and plant foods together in a single group, while the Asian Food Pyramid carefully distinguish between plant and animal foods. The main constitution of the Asian Food Pyramid is of Plant based food, with moderate amounts of animal products. It has a wide variety of healthy foods listed in 8 mini pyramids or levels [as illustrated in the picture].The Asian Diet Pyramid emphasizes -On daily servings of whole grain and minimally processed foods, topped by another large band of fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds.Optional daily servings of dairy products (low fat), Sea-foodWeekly Servings of Sweets, eggs and poultry are recommendedMonthly Servings of red meat or PorkDaily physical exercise, a small amount of vegetable oil and a moderate consumption of plant-based beverages are also recommended according to the pyramid6 glasses of water to ensure good healthModerate intake of gin/beer/wineAccording to Campbell, Cornell professor of nutritional biochemistry, co-chairperson of the conference and director of the Cornell-China-Oxford Project-“The Asian diet, which is significantly lower in total fat, may prove to be an even more healthful diet.”Every day, we all need to make good choices regarding the foods we eat and the amount of activity we do.  If you are willful to make changes in your lifestyle to achieve better health of body & mind, then the food Pyramid is the right scientific approach to begin with. As this model is based on years of research, it is certainly promising for every individual.

Is Raw Food Diet Healthy?

Ms. Swati Kapoor, Dietitian/Nutritionist
People are constantly experimenting with food to lose weight. Some eat maple syrup all day while some eat raw or uncooked foods to get that size zero. Most fad diets are unhealthy. But sometimes even the more healthy seeming diets like the raw food diet may not be totally healthy. Let us tell you why eating raw food can or cannot be all that good for you.Raw diet consists mainly of uncooked, unprocessed plant foods. Raw food is low in calorie and usually sourced naturally. Eating a raw diet full of fruits and vegetables has its advantages of getting plenty of vitamins and minerals but there are a lot of missing nutrients in this diet that can lead to severe deficiencies.Vitamin B12 is the most common deficiency found in people that eat this diet. This nutrient is naturally available in animal sources and is critical to nerve and red blood cell development. Deficiencies can lead to anemia and neurological impairment.This diet doesn't have enough protein. According to ICMR minimum of 20-25% of adults daily calories should come from protein. Protein is a major component of all cells, including muscle and bone. It is needed for growth, development and immunity to fight off infections and protect the body.This diet might help you lose weight because how much raw food can you actually eat. Besides unhealthy weight loss it also makes your immune system vulnerable putting you at higher risk of falling sick or catching infection. Raw food diet lacks lycopene, usually found in cooked tomatoes, which are responsible for plasma lycopene levels, which are thought to play a role in disease prevention.Overcooking and heating is known to destroy nutrition in food. But did you know that cooking vegetables and beans actually enhances digestibility and absorption of many beneficial and nutritious compounds in the body? Cooking also helps destroy some of the harmful enzymes that interfere with the absorption of nutrients in the body.Recent studies confirm that the body absorbs much more of the beneficial anti-cancer compounds (carotenoids and phytochemicals - especially lutein and lycopene) from cooked vegetables compared with raw. Scientists speculate that the increase in absorption of antioxidants after cooking may be attributed to the destruction of the cell matrix (connective bands) to which the valuable compounds is bound.Eating raw food is good for health and is an important feature of a healthy diet. But that does not mean that one’s entire diet has to be raw to be in excellent health or lose weight. There are healthier ways to lose weight like eating a balanced diet and exercising. Our body requires all nutrients for optimum health.