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Healthy Eating… The Natural way.
Cereal Grains
Rice, Wheat, Corn, Oats, Rye, Millet (including Raagi),Sorghum, Barley are some of the widely used known cereals. It is important to know their grain structure among other details, to appreciate their nutritional value.

Each of these grains has its own specific characteristics. All are grass products. The interesting feature of plants of this family is the fusion of seeds with the fruit, as for example in wheat, corn or oats. But in the case of rice, there is the hard husk, an additional protective layer which cannot be eaten.

The seed coat and the fruit wall combined together is known as the aleuron layer. This layer is commonly called as the ‘bran’ and eliminated during the refining or polishing process. The rest is the embryo where in the major portion corresponds to the endosperm and a small part corresponds to the germ.

When grains are milled, or refined, the bran and germ are removed leaving only the endosperm. Most of the nutritional value of the grain disappears because out of all the three layers, the bran and the germ contain the highest concentration of nutrients.

The bran ( aleuron), is the coarse, outer layer of the grain and is rich in concentrated amounts of several nutrients like fiber, B vitamins, minerals, unsaturated fatty oils and amino acids.

The endosperm is the starchy bulk of the grain which has the least nutritional value. This is the only part retained after the refining (milling or polishing) process.

Germ, although the smallest part of the grain, is packed with nutrients. The germ sprouts into a new plant, so it holds rich supplies of key nutrients like minerals, B vitamins and E vitamins which are very important to maintain a healthy body.

Each part of the whole grain contains its own nutritional treasures, but it is the combination of all the parts that creates the whole grain's unique and powerful package of goodness. So, by eating whole grain foods you reap all the additional benefits and synergistic effects of the nutrients, which cannot be provided by fiber alone.

Two kinds of fibers can be found in whole grains - soluble and insoluble. Oats and barley are two types of whole grain that are high in soluble fiber, while insoluble fiber is found in rice, rye , corn and whole wheat foods. Including both sorts of whole grain fiber in your diet will help in promoting good digestive health.

Studies show that people who eat more whole grain foods have a lower body mass index and are less likely to gain weight over time. Eating whole grains may help you to maintain a proportionate body weight.

Whole grains are known to affect blood sugar (glucose) and insulin levels.
Replacing refined grains with whole grains may offer a simple and important way to regularize metabolism to maintain healthy blood glucose and insulin levels. It is through the combined effect of the nutrients in whole grains.

Being proportionately low in fat, high in fiber and complex carbohydrates, whole grains can help you feel fuller for longer - helping you to avoid the temptation of snacking

Food prepared using these whole ingredients not only provide nutrition but also help in bowel movement, thus eliminating all the toxic waste from the body.
Boiled rice
Boiled rice is widely eaten in south India , but it is polished partially or entirely to remove most of the fiber rich and nutritious bran . It is very important to buy rice that is least polished to retain most of the bran. Another healthy way of eating rice would be to eat rice gruel (Ganji) made from whole unrefined rice This guarantees the incorporation of hydro soluble vitamin B readily available for easy digestion and absorption.
Raw rice
People have a general misconception thinking that raw rice is a better selection because of its white color . The white color is the product of total refining , that is total elimination of the nutritious bran . It is possible to obtain raw, unpolished red rice rich with all the nutritious matter . These days it is even possible to buy unpolished basmati rice at health food stores and super markets. People living in towns and villages can get unpolished rice by sourcing them directly from the rice mills.

Rice eaten in this form supplies the required nutrients to the body thus increasing immunity and strengthening the body.
Whole wheat
The healthiest form of eating Indian breads like roti, paratha, chapathi, kulcha and western breads like loaf bread ,baguette would be to use whole wheat flour in their elaborations instead of white flour.

Other grains(Cereals) like Barley, Maize, Oats, Raagi ( Indian Millet) should only be used in the whole form ( unpolished) in the food preparations.
Jaggery/ Raw sugar/ Honey / Unrefined sugar
Theoretically these are healthy sweeteners without any added chemicals, preservatives and processing. Although care should be taken to check the authenticity of the producers and their claims. There are jaggery manufacturers that use chemicals to obtain uniformity in the color and texture. It is also important to check out for honey adulterated with caramel.

These unrefined sweeteners are very rich in fiber, iron, and other minerals essential for the body.
Pure Ghee or butter
Pure Ghee or butter in moderation may be used for light sautéing of the spices and ingredients. Virgin vegetable oils ( Olive, Coconut, Sesame etc) should only be used in cold dressings.

Consumption of natural ghee or butter in moderation strengthens the body and provides required immunity
Avoid Fried food
Fried food must be avoided. Instead people should opt for steamed, roasted, baked or grilled food. The food thus consumed is healthier, lighter and easily digestible.
Fruit juices
Freshly squeezed fruit juices make excellent thirst quenchers instead of bottled drinks and artificially prepared beverages.. Seasonal, fresh ripe fruits are full of fruit sugars and nutrients ready for digestion and absorption.

Tender coconut water ( a natural electrolyte) , lassi , butter milk , freshly squeezed sugar cane juice ( very rich in chlorophyll) are also excellent natural thirst quenchers and at the same time they help to restore the intestinal flora.
Barley / Wheat
Roasted and finely ground barley/wheat grains powder make excellent substitutes for coffee or tea.

Caffeine free teas and herbal infusions like, chamomile, mint, ginger , kashaya ( A mixture of roasted and ground spices) make excellent healthy hot beverages.
Natural colors
It is ironic that we have to go for synthetic flavors and taste enhancers considering our vast richness in natural resources. Natural colors like Saffron, Annotto, Turmeric, Beetroot, Carrots, Red capsicum are any time healthy options.

Natural vanilla beans, natural cinnamon , are exotic and healthy flavors. Similarly we can make culinary wonders using the vast array of natural spices like cumin, pepper, cilantro, mace, ginger amongst the many other spices.
Black pepper and ginger
A combination of black pepper and ginger can be used instead of chilies to get the desired spicy taste.
Contrary to normal belief, an adult does not necessarily need milk . However fresh milk obtained from a pasture fed cow is the healthiest option of consuming milk. Since the pasture fed organic milk contains unsaturated fat, it is also considered a safe option for new born babies
Plants are the primary producers of amino acids that constitute the protein of high quality. Pulses like lentils, chick pea, beans, are very high in proteins. The quality of this protein can be enhanced by sprouting these pulses. Leaves like Amaranth ( Harive), Drum stick(Nugge) are very rich sources of proteins, omega 3, iron and other nutrients necessary to keep the body healthy.
Healthy food has been the staple diet of all Indians. It has always been at home. By going back and observing the living habits, eating habits and lifestyles of our forefathers it is very evident as to how these factors influenced the quality of their lives .Our ancestors were seldom obese and lethargic. They enjoyed good health with immense physical and mental strength and only suffered from minor illnesses as compared to people now.

Most of the present generation is totally unaware of a healthy diet due to the modern consumerist, mercantilist society and the race to make the food readily available at the shortest time.

It is our right and duty to know the exact ingredients that go into the making of our foods and educate our people in reasoning, and the pros and cons of the modern eating trends. Changing into healthy and natural foods is definitely worth while…considering the long term benefits.