It is no secret that our grandmothers have a home remedy for any illness we have.
From consuming Ajwain and Jeera for digestive issues, and various Kashayas for illnesses, Many natural Indian ingredients have healing properties that have been used and recorded by Indian households and Ayurveda practitioners since ancient times! Many of these ingredients are making a comeback for their combined benefits, and gaining popularity not only in India but all over the world!
Read on to find out about 5 of our favorite Indian Superfoods!
Turmeric is the original superfood! From time immemorial, it has been used in India not only in our dietary intake but also as an external medicine for various concerns. Turmeric is a natural anti-bacterial and anti-fungal agent, and when taken internally, it has anti-inflammatory properties. We use turmeric in our everyday meals, and it is known to improve digestion and increases immunity. It is said that turmeric must be consumed along with black pepper to improve its absorption into the body. Turmeric milk, or ‘Haldi Doodh’ in India is a drink often consumed by trained vocalists and singers, as it soothes the throat, and improves immunity against the common cold. The drink has recently gained popularity in the west, being nicknamed ‘Golden Latte’ for its healing abilities!
Apart from these benefits, turmeric is also by Indian women to improve their complexion and naturally reduce the production of unwanted hair. Wild turmeric or Kasturi turmeric is used for natural beauty products instead of normal turmeric, which may leave behind a yellow hue.
Moringa or Drumstick is a vegetable that is widely used in Indian cuisine. Did you know, that the Moringa fruit, as well as the leaves, are completely edible? It is being dubbed as the latest superfood, as it contains many essential micronutrients like Iron, Calcium and Magnesium. Moringa leaves are said to have more iron than normal spinach!
The Moringa tree is native to India and is a fast-growing, drought-resistant tree. It grows well even in harsh conditions, and for this reason, is being used to combat malnutrition in several countries across the globe. Moringa and its leaves have been used in Indian cuisine since ancient times, and it is said that warriors used to drink tea made with moringa leaves every morning due to its nutritional benefits. Moringa seedpods, also known as ‘Drumstick’ is added to Sambar and other curries and can be eaten as a side dish as well. Moringa leaves are also eaten this way, and can also be steeped into a tea. If fresh moringa is unavailable, powders made from dried moringa leaves are easily accessible in the market and can be added to smoothies, soups and buttermilk to avail its benefits!
Amla is a superfood containing high amounts of Vitamin C. Goji berries, a superfood from China that is praised worldwide for its high vitamin c content, pales in comparison to Amla. Amla contains 252 mg of Vitamin C per 100 grams, whereas Goji berries only contain 48 mg of Vitamin C. Amla is a good source of micronutrients like Calcium, Potassium and Iron. It is also said to balance hormonal issues in women, and is easily available anywhere in India!
Amla can be eaten raw or is often eaten with some added sweetener like honey. Amla soaked in honey can be taken once a day to boost immunity and relieve tiredness. Amla is also eaten as pickles, juice, and chutney for the benefits it has for the hair and nails. Amla paste is also used topically for hair loss problems. Who knew the humble Indian gooseberry had so many benefits!
Jackfruit is a wonderfully sweet tropical fruit, native to the rainforests of India. Jackfruit is the largest tree-fruit in the world and has a flavor that tastes like a cross between a pineapple and a banana. Both the fruit as well as the seeds are edible. Jackfruit is one of the few fruits that naturally contain vitamin B, and also contains essentials vitamins and minerals such as Vitamin C, potassium, magnesium and niacin. Jackfruit also contains carotenoids, which are high in Vitamin A and are essential for eye health.
Off late, Jackfruit also gained popularity as a meat-substitute. Under-ripe jackfruit has a stringy texture and minimal flavor of its own, thus making it the perfect vegan meat substitute. Ripe jackfruit can be eaten raw, or in desserts. Jackfruit can also be pickled, and the seeds can be roasted with potatoes or other vegetables and eaten as a side dish. It is also often dried and ground into flour, and can be used as a rich source of protein and fiber!
Amaranth grain, or Rajgira as it’s known in Hindi, is a grain, or rather the seed of the Amaranth plant. It is a grain that is high in iron and low in gluten, which makes it the perfect choice for people suffering from Celiac disease or those with gluten intolerance. Amaranth grains are generally eaten by people who are fasting or during sickness due to its healing properties and because it is slow-to-digest. While Quinoa is a grain that is now popular in the market, Amaranth is a great Indian alternative. Did you know, One cup of Amaranth grains contains 15 mg of iron as opposed to quinoa which only contains 1.5mg for the same amount?
Rajgira or Amaranth grain is often made into flour and used to make rotis and paranthas. Amaranth seeds can also be made into various recipes like Rajgira Vadas, Dosas or made into delicacies like Rajgira Halwa and Ksheera, if you have a sweet tooth!
From fruits to grains, many ingredients that are native to India’s vast forests and plantations! These native plants often contain equal amounts or more benefits than global superfoods that are imported along with a hefty price tag. Let us look into our own history and culture, and adopt these Indian superfoods into our daily meals!
Do you already consume any of them? Tell us about it in comments below