The Power of Functional Foods for Health



Almonds: The Queen of Dry Fruits and Functional Foods

Senior citizens often reminisce about the 1956 film “Bhai Bhai,” and the song “Mera Nam Abdul Rahman, Pistawala Main Hun Pathan.” Many believed that pistachios were an import, but Dr. K.T. Achaya’s book “Indian Food” reveals that dry fruits like almonds, pistachios, cashews, walnuts, apricots, and pomegranates were known since the time of Charaka, the father of Ayurvedic Medicine. According to a recent paper by Isabela Mateus Martins and others, almonds are considered the epitome of healthy foods due to their rich content of protein, monounsaturated fatty acids, dietary fiber, vitamin E, riboflavin, essential minerals, phytosterols, and polyphenols.

Health Benefits of Almonds and Other Dry Fruits

Clinical evidence supports the multiple health benefits associated with almond consumption. In addition to almonds, other dry fruits such as cashew nuts, raisins, walnuts, dates, apricots, and pistachios offer significant health benefits. Charaka also recognized the health benefits of “wet fruits” such as bananas, grapes, guavas, oranges, and mangoes. These fruits, along with oats, millets like bajra, ragi, jowar, and soya proteins, are considered “functional foods” due to their ability to offer health benefits beyond their nutritional value.

National Institute of Nutrition’s Recommendations and Functional Foods

The National Institute of Nutrition (NIN) periodically releases reports on the nutritive values of Indian foods and provides recommendations for maintaining a healthy diet. In addition to NIN’s suggestions, the Healthline website offers a comprehensive list of functional foods that should be incorporated into the daily diet. Functional foods contain ingredients that provide health benefits extending beyond their nutritional value.

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Creating a Healthy and Nutritious Diet

To maintain a healthy daily diet, it is advisable to include millets in the main meal, add turmeric, cinnamon, ginger, and garlic when cooking curry, and use butter and ghee in moderation. Curd contains several antioxidants, and consuming coffee and tea in moderation can also be beneficial due to their antioxidant content. Children should be encouraged to drink several cups of milk daily, while adults can limit their consumption to three cups. Incorporating dry and wet fruits into the diet at least once a week, along with non-vegetarian options such as eggs, fish, chicken, and mutton, contributes to a well-rounded diet rich in essential nutrients and health-promoting elements.

In conclusion, adopting a diet rich in functional foods and incorporating a variety of fruits, vegetables, and other nutrient-dense foods is essential for maintaining overall health and well-being. A balance of both dry and wet fruits, along with functional foods, can significantly contribute to a healthy lifestyle.



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