Bengali Diet Nutritional Fact
Bitter Melon (Korola)
As a nutrient source, bitter melons are rich in iron. It is effective in treating diabetes and is one of the best herbal medicines for liver problems. It is also an excellent natural remedy for the common cold. Research has also shown it may be beneficial for people with autoimmune diseases and people with psoriasis.
Did you know that stir-frying is one of the best methods for retaining nutrients while cooking vegetables, followed by pressure-cooking and steaming. Boiling-and-draining is the worst as is deep-frying.
Don't Throw Those Good Parts Away:
Green outer leaves of cauliflower are particularly nutritious (containing calcium, iron, fiber and beta-carotene) and should not be thrown away. It's more nutritious than the flower part. In Bengal all such parts like leaves and stalks and peels are used in cooking as a good cheap source of nutrition. For example, a stir-fry with the cauliflower leaves and stalks with pea pod shells to the vegetable curry and koftas with peels of bottle gourds (lau khosha). Potato skins are also better left on. The skin provides fiber and protects against the loss of nutrients (vitamin C, B vitamins, potassium, iron and zinc) which occurs when potatoes are peeled and boiled.
Eat Fish - Live Longer!
Fish is a high protein food that is low in calories, total fat, and saturated fat. In addition, a large proportion of the fat in seafood is polyunsaturated. The protein in fish is also easy to digest. The omega-3 fatty acids found in fish and shellfish, can reduce the risk of heart disease and ensures proper development of brain and eye tissues. So when Ma told you "Maach khele buddhi hobe" she wasn't kidding.
Bengalees also cook fish heads and Maacher tel (fish liver oil and entrails) which are very rich in vitamins A&D and minerals like iodine. Eating whole small fish also provides you with calcium and phosphorus. For more on fish and nutrition.
Garlic is good for you!
Research has shown that certain compounds in garlic (allyl-cysteine, and ajoene) can be beneficial to our health. Garlic is an effective antibiotic, an anti-viral and anti-fungal agent, and probably an immune system enhancer. Some studies have found lower rates of certain types of cancer in people who consume large amounts of garlic. Other studies show garlic can reduce LDL or "bad" cholesterol. The health benefits have been found to be greatest if you let chopped/crushed stand for at least 10 minutes before you cook or ingest it
Ginger has been used heavily in preserves, chutneys, vegetable and meat dishes. The yogi's of ancient India were one of the earliest recorded users of ginger as a seasoning, claiming it promoted mental clarity. In Ayurveda it is regarded heavily for use against colds, coughs, bronchitis, indigestion, diarrhea, nausea, breaking of fevers, headaches, respiratory infections, and as a stimulant. Its is now being used to treat arthritic and rheumatic pain.
Go Mangoes! If you are looking for a superior source of beta-carotene, you can forget the V-8. Mangoes are a superior source of vitamin A-based beta carotene, important in cancer prevention. Mangoes also have a ton of vitamin C. Perhaps a mango shake instead of orange juice to fight your next cold? If this isn't enough nutrition for you, mangoes also provide several B vitamins along with the minerals calcium and magnesium. No wonder they call it the king of fruits in Bengal!
Goat-meat is the red meat of choice in Bengali cuisine. Not only is it naturally healthy, it has an excellent flavor.
Green papaya is an enzyme-rich vegetable known for being a strong digestive aid and also promoting healthy skin. Papaya is an excellent source of vitamins A, C, B complex, amino acids, calcium and iron. It contains anti-oxidants which are known to prevent cancer.
Lentils are packed with nutrients!
Lentils (Dal) are a low calorie, low fat and protein rich food as well as being inexpensive. Lentils provide more folic acid than any other food. Lentils are also an important source of iron. Eating lentils with foods rich in Vitamin C, such as tomatoes, green peppers, broccoli etc. helps the body absorb iron more efficiently. Soluble fiber found in lentils decreases blood glucose and cholesterol and decreases insulin requirements for people with diabetes.
Nai Goon Begun?
On the contrary eggplant has Bishesh Goon! Eggplant, also known as brinjal and aubergine, originated in India from where it spread to the rest of the world. With little fat and carbohydrates and tons of dietary fiber, eggplants are a great food for weight loss diets and also for diabetics. In addition to featuring a host of vitamins and minerals, eggplant also contains important phytonutrients that have anti-cancer, antimicrobial, anti-LDL (bad cholesterol) and antiviral properties. Infact when laboratory animals with high cholesterol were given eggplant juice, their blood cholesterol and the cholesterol in their artery walls was significantly reduced, while the walls of their blood vessels relaxed, improving blood flow!
Neem the wonder herb!
Neem the wonder herb! Since ancient times, Neem has been associated with healing in the sub-continent of India. Neem works wonders in treating digestive, respiratory and urinary disorders, diabetes and skin diseases. Antiseptic, anti-fungal properties of Neem are now widely recognized and has been used to clean the teeth and maintain dental hygiene for centuries. Neem has been used traditionally in India to treat several viral diseases and is now being advocated to treat Malaria and Chagas disease.
Bengalees traditionally eat parboiled rice. In parboiling, unmilled rice (still in its rough outer husk) is boiled or steam-heated for a short time. This drives the B vitamins (thiamin, riboflavin, and niacin) from the outer bran into the center of the grain. Thus, parboiled white rice has more B vitamins than plain white rice, which loses those vitamins when its bran is removed.
Posto (poppy seed, khus-khus) is extremely rich in calcium. One tablespoon of posto contains 127 mg of calcium! Vegetables like kochu (taro) and palong on the other hand, contain high amounts of oxalate which binds up calcium in your diet and prevents its absorption.
That Healthy Onion
Onions are rich in vitamin C and fiber and contain chemicals that help fight the disease causing free radicals. When you eat half a raw onion a day, your good type HDL cholesterol goes up an average of 30 percent. Onions increase circulation, lower blood pressure, and prevent blood clotting.
Turmeric is considered excellent for the skin. In terms of digestion, turmeric corrects the metabolism and helps in digesting protein. Hence is used in cooking all high protein foods like lentils, meats etc. Turmeric is an excellent antibiotic and has strong antiseptic properties. It is often taken with hot milk to help heal fevers and throat problems.