Tag Archives: glycemic index

What is quinoa and what are its health benefits?

Have you ever wondered whether the cereal you are consuming at breakfast is high on nutrition or not?  Well, quinoa (pronounced as keen-waah) is a healthy breakfast option that includes all the nutrients found in a healthy cereal and more. Quinoa is a seed native to the Andes mountains in South America and used to be a staple food for the locales. Now it is emerging as a super food globally and is gaining immense popularity among health fanatics and food lovers alike.

First of all, the misconception about quinoa is that it is a cereal. It is not. Neither is it a grain. It could be called a “pseudo cereal” because of its nutrients, similar to those found in most cereals. The unique quality of quinoa is that it can be eaten just like other cereals but is comparatively much higher in nutrition. It is a rich source of protein, complex carbohydrates and iron. It can be also called a complete protein as it contains all the essential amino acids needed by our body, therefore it is even a great food for vegans. Quinoa is becoming more and more accessible as it can be found in most supermarkets.

Another interest fact about quinoa is that it does not contain gluten, so it can be consumed by suffers of the celiac disease. Quinoa can be prepared in a manner similar to rice. You might experience some bitterness in quinoa, which is due to the presence of saponin in its natural state. Saponin even acts as a natural pesticide for Quinoa. It had been found that a pre-rinsing of quinoa with water before cooking is sufficient to remove the saponin. There is no need to soak further.

You can easily incorporate quinoa into your breakfast cereal, cookies, porridge, sprouts, pies, multigrain bars, cake flour, stew, salads and fritters. Quinoa can even be popped like popcorn.  One serving of quinoa can give you 8.14g protein, 4.6g iron, 7g dietary fibre, 222kcal energy, 31mg calcium and 318mg potassium. Apart from these nutrients, quinoa contains magnesium, manganese and riboflavin too in good amounts. With a glycemic index of 53 and a glycemic load of 13, quinoa is quite low on the glycemic index, making it suitable for diabetics too.

Quinoa can be a good alternative to rice, as it contains much more protein than rice and wheat. Also, rice and wheat have a higher glycemic index than quinoa.

According to research studies, quinoa seeds contain good amounts of anti-inflammatory substances. Quinoa possesses various health benefits such as promotion of bone health, help in reduction of cholesterol, prevention of gall stones and is even a good source of dietary fibre. Saponin present in quinoa is found to be a very potent antiseptic for healing skin infections.

If you can access quinoa easily, incorporate it into your daily diet to reap its various health benefits.

— this article is written by a dietitian @ FitHo
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Does a Healthy Diet Reduce The Risk of Depression?

Depression is a mental illness marked by feelings of profound sadness and low interest in positive activities. It is a persistent low mood that interferes with the ability to function and appreciate things in life. It may cause a wide range of symptoms, both physical and emotional. It can last for weeks, months, or years. There could be various causes of depression, but poor diet is one of the reasons revealed by researchers.

A certain study reinforces the hypothesis that a “healthy diet has the potential to not only ward off depression, but also prevent it,” says Ms Anu Ruusunen, MSc, who presented the results in her doctoral thesis in the field of nutritional epidemiology.

Depressed individuals often have a poor diet quality and a decreased intake of nutrient rich food. But this is not yet clear in the case of healthy individuals suffering from depression.

A healthy diet characterized by vegetables, fruits, cereals, milk and low fat dairy products, pulses, fish, meat and poultry is associated with a lower risk of depression.

Increased intake of folate was also associated with a decreased risk of depression because low folic acid levels leads to low SAMe(S-adenosylmethionine), which increases symptoms of depression. By improving folic acid status, SAMe increases, and depressive symptoms drop. Vegetables, fruits, berries, whole-grains, meat and liver are the most important dietary sources of folate.

In addition, coffee and tea also act as anti-depressants to an extent because caffeine promotes the production of dopamine (a neurotransmitter released by the brain) which is responsible for the feeling of well being and happiness. But the amount of caffeine consumed should not be more than 300mg per day as caffeine is an addictive substance.

Omega 3-fatty acids, which are found in vegetable oil, nuts and fish oil, increase the level of serotonin (known as the happy hormone), which reduces the level of depression.
Not only this, essential amino acids like tryptophan play a role in the formation of serotonin. Meat, fish, beans and eggs are good sources of essential amino acids.

Having refined carbohydrate and processed foods increases your blood sugar levels and does not provide any kind of nutrient to the body and brain. It even utilizes the mood enhancing vitamin B. Sugar also diverts the supply of another nutrient involved in mood enhancing, chromium. The best way to lower your sugar level is to have food low on the glycemic index.

Lastly, Vitamin D deficiency may cause depression because vitamin D is responsible for brain development. So consume vitamin D rich foods such as egg, mushrooms, fish etc

Depression is one of the leading health challenges in the world and its effect on public health, economics and quality of life are enormous. Not only the treatment of depression, but even the prevention of depression needs new approaches. Change in dietary and lifestyle factors are one of the possible approaches.

So adopt a healthy eating habit to enhance your mood and stay away from depression naturally.

— this article is written by a dietitian @ FitHo

Foods that Make You Hungrier

Do you feel hungry even after a large meal? If this happens to you regularly, then you might want to check what you are eating. Quite often, it the food you eat that is responsible for post meal/snack hunger. Usually, natural whole foods make you feel fuller and satisfied, while processed and junk foods keep you craving for more. Here are 6 foods that make you feel hungrier:

1. Commercially available Chinese food (Specifically the type available in India and fast food)

Those who crave for Chinese food even after a big meal of Chinese food are doing so because of two reasons. One, the food contains specific types of carbohydrates which are usually high on the glycemic index and the body needs to produce additional insulin to digest this food, which causes the blood sugar to fall and increases your hunger. And secondly, these foods basically contain something called MSG, a chemical that provides flavor and makes food tasty. This result in continued cravings even after the flavor leaves the taste buds.

2. Pizzas / Burgers

Fast foods are highly processed foods and high in sodium. These foods, when ingested cause an increase of hydrochloric acid in the stomach and to neutralize the acid, the stomach sends a signal to the brain to eat more. Hence it becomes a vicious cycle.

3. Dark chocolates

Dark chocolates contain L-arginine (a vasodilator) and phenylethylamine, which makes you feel happy and the truth is that both sweet as well salty snacks are very hard to put down. Dark chocolate contains unhealthy fats, which is also another reason why we tend to keep eating more.

4. Alcohol

When we consume alcohol, it stimulates our hypothalamus which regulates things such as body temperature, circadian rhythms, and most importantly hunger. Alcohol is also high on the glycemic index, which leads to cravings for unhealthy food.

5. Artificial sweeteners

When we consume artificial sweetener, the brain keeps on waiting for the real calories to come. This causes a drop in blood sugar which triggers hunger and cravings for more food. People are not metabolically satisfied after consuming artificial sweeteners. Artificial sweeteners are known to rapidly stimulate the release of insulin and Leptin hormones that are involved with satiety and fat storage, and may therefore lead to weight gain.

6. Bakery products

Bakery products are processed and refined carbohydrates that contain high-fructose corn syrups that cause a spike in blood sugar and lower the Leptin hormone which leads you to crave more of those foods.

Nutritionally, you should make healthy changes in your regular dietary pattern like starting meals with salads, replacing alcoholic beverages with water, eating your meals slowly and keeping your portions in control.

— this article is written by a dietitian @ FitHo

The benefits of kiwi

People like to eat kiwi because it looks attractive once it has been cut, and because of it’s interesting tangy taste. It is also nutrient dense, which means it is high in essential nutrient. It is extremely beneficial for the body and is low on calories.

 Some of the benefits of Kiwi are:-

1.    Helps in digesting enzymes

 Raw kiwi help in digesting enzymes found in fruits. Enzymes such as papian in papaya and bromelain in pineapple (both enzymes increase the risk of abortion during pregnancy).

 2.    Optimizes Blood Pressure

The level of potassium in Kiwi plays a role in maintaining electrolyte balance by counteracting with sodium.

 3.    Antioxidant Rich

 Due to the high level of antioxidants, kiwi prevents the cell’s DNA from oxidative changes, stops premature ageing and makes skin beautiful.

 4.    Boosts immunity

 Kiwi’s high Vitamin C content along with other antioxidant compounds has been proven to boost the immune system by fighting with the nucleic acid of the virus and also fights bacteria until they are dead.

 5.    Low glycemic index

 Kiwi has a lower glycemic index because of it’s high fibre content. The fibre content even prevents sudden increase in blood sugar levels, which is why kiwi is also good for diabetics.

 6.       Helps in weight loss

 Due to it’s higher fibre content, Kiwi has a higher satiety value which prevents overeating.

 7.    Improves digestion

 Kiwi improves digestion by preventing constipation and other intestinal problems. This is due to it’s high fibre content.

 8.    Helps clean out toxins

 The fibre found in Kiwi binds and moves toxins from the intestinal tract

9.    Prevent heart disease

Eating 2-3 kiwis a day has been shown to reduce the potential of blood clotting by 18% and reduce triglycerides by 15%.

10. Protects from eye problems

Macular degeneration is the leading cause of vision loss in older adults. Eating 3 or more servings of kiwi every day decreases macular degeneration by 36%. This is thought to be associated with the kiwi’s high levels of lutein and zeaxanthin — both of which are natural chemicals found in the human eye.

Make Kiwi an essential part of your regular diet and benefit from it.

— this article is written by a dietitian @ FitHo

Worst Foods for Weight Loss

There are lots of foods that silently add hundreds of calories to your diet. These foods are easily accessible and tasty. These are also often high in saturated fats or sugar or both. Thus, not only do they add to your body fat, they even increase the risk of heart disease, diabetes and other lifestyle diseases.

For many people, the battle to lose weight or keep the fat off can be a long and difficult road and eating these high calorie foods can only make it harder.

Find below a list of foods which are amongst the worst for achieving fat loss:-

1. Fried Potatoes

Studies shows that people who consume potatoes daily, in any form, put on about a pound on average over 4 years. This is because of potato’s high GI (Glycemic Index), which causes a spike in blood sugar levels. Potatoes eaten in moderation are not bad since they even contain some essential nutrients. But when potatoes are fried, they absorb a lot of oil. So a high amount of saturated fat is added, which may increase the risk of heart disease and the body’s fat levels.

Better alternative

For a low GI option, swap potatoes with sweet potatoes. Or have normal potatoes with the skin to increase fibre content. You can make your own French fries by oven roasting them with a light spray of olive oil.

2. Processed Meats

Processed meats are high in fat, most of which is saturated and also high in calories, which contributes to weight gain.

Better alternative

Choose lean meats and opt for a lower saturated fat protein source such as fish.

3. Soda and energy drinks

Sugar sweetened soda and energy drinks are high in sugar and calorie content and there are little to no nutrients in these drinks.

Better alternative

Sugar free sodas or water flavoured with a lemon/lime juice.

4. Refined Grains

Food that is made from refined grains such as white breads can spike blood sugar levels which can increase hunger and make us overeat.

Better alternative

Whole grain based foods.

5. Mayonnaise

Apart from pure fats and oils, mayonnaise may just be the foods with the largest percentage of fat. A100g serving of mayonnaise contains about 80g of fat.

Better alternative

Use low fat yoghurt with lemon as a substitute of tangy salad dressing.

6. Ice cream and cream

Ice cream contains not only fattening cream, but also eggs yolks and sugar, which means it is incredibly high in calories.

Better alternative

Use low fat yoghurt or condensed milk to replace cream in cooking and choose low fat and sugar ice creams or sorbet, which is water based.

7. Chocolate, cake and candy

These foods are high in sugar and calories with low nutrient value.

Better alternative

If you do eat chocolate keep portion sizes small and opt for higher cocoa content as cocoa provides healthy antioxidants. Choose other treats such as fresh fruits, low fat yoghurt or a low sugar flavoured dairy dessert.

8. Fast Foods

Fast foods are detrimental for any diet, weight loss or not. They are high in saturated fat content, contain simple carbohydrates and are likely to be high in sugar content.

Better alternative

Make tasty and healthier alternatives at home using healthy ingredients such as whole grain, lean meat, low fat ingredients and good fats. If you do eat at a fast food joint, then minimize the portion size.

9. Butter, lard and other animals fats

With pure saturated fat and very high calories, it is best to stay away from these.

Better alternative

Replace animal fat with unsaturated fat like olive oil or canola oil. Choose non fat cooking methods or use spray oil for cooking to get the smallest possible amount.

— this article is written by a dietitian @ FitHo

8 Reasons you are Overeating

Have you ever wondered why you can eat 2 entire meals in one sitting and still not be satisfied? Here are 8 reasons for your overeating:

1.You are Skipping Breakfast

Skipping breakfast or having an unhealthy breakfast will make you feel lethargic through the day and will also lead to weight gain. Always start your day with a healthy breakfast. Further, researchers found that those who ate just 300 calories for breakfast gained almost twice as much weight as those who ate 500 calories or more for breakfast.
The reason: Eating a big breakfast controls blood sugar and insulin spikes throughout the day, which means fewer sudden food cravings.

2.You are Bored or Tired

When you are bored or tired or haven’t slept enough, you crave for an immediate burst of energy, which normally attracts you to some sugar or simple carbohydrate food. Eating unhealthy and tasty foods even acts as a distraction when you are bored.

3.You are not hydrating yourself

Drinking water is good for general health. Water is also known to fill you up and keep you from overeating. Dehydration or not drinking enough water can be responsible for slowing down your metabolism. Drink at least 8-10 glasses of water to help remove toxins from your body and to boost your metabolism naturally.

4.You don’t have a balanced diet

A healthy and balanced diet will control your appetite and provide you with all the essential nutrients. When our body receives all the essential nutrients, it will functionally optimally and will keep you from over eating.

5.You crave high-fat, high-carbohydrate foods

High-fat high-carbohydrate foods are generally high on the glycemic index. Foods high on the glycemic index cause a rapid rise and fall in blood sugar. This further creates unnecessary food cravings and leads to overeating.

6.You drink too much soda

Flavored sodas, iced teas & other sweetened beverages are a huge source of HFCS (High Fructose Corn Syrup), which acts like sugar in promoting fat storage. Research indicates that fructose can trick our brains into craving for more food, even when we’re full. It works by impeding the body’s ability to use leptin, the hormone that tells the body that it has had enough to eat.

7.Check your portion size

Controlling portion size is key to weight control. Always be a smart selector when filling up your plate. Eat in small plates, chew slowly and stop eating once you feel full.

8.You eat processed, canned foods

According to Harvard University researchers, many canned foods are high in the chemical “bisphenol-A”, or BPA. Exposure to BPA causes food cravings.

Overeating can be a major block to achieving your weight loss and fitness goals. Keep the above factors in mind and try to exercise some self control while eating. Make it a permanent lifestyle change and not a temporary change, since overeating can even lead to various lifestyle diseases.

— this article is written by a dietitian @ FitHo

How Sugar is deteriorating your body

Is sugar really that bad? Sugar has continued to play an increasingly important role in our food industry. It’s not just sugary foods, but sugar has made its way into practically everything we eat. You can become addicted to sugar. Refined sugar in particular provides only empty calories and lacks all the essential and natural nutrients that the body requires.

Here is how sugar deteriorates your body:

1. Sugar makes you fat

A high sugar diet makes the liver store fat more efficiently and overtime it could lead to the deposition of fat globules in the liver and other parts of your body, which makes you gain weight.

2. Sugar affects your Insulin levels

Sugar is high on the glycemic index because of which it causes a spike in blood sugar levels, leading to increased insulin production. High intake of sugar stimulates the pancreas to produce more insulin to lower the blood sugar levels. Excess of Insulin in the body promotes fat storage.

3. Sugar weakens your Immune system

Sugar directly impacts the immune response. White blood cells accumulate Vitamin C in order to consume virus, bacteria or cancer cells but when we get overloaded with sugar, then white blood cells accumulate glucose and leave little room inside the cell, as Vitamin C and sugar have similar structures. Therefore, sugar slows your immune system down.

4. Sugar reduces good cholesterol and raises bad cholesterol

Empty calories in sugar increase your risk of having high cholesterol. It raises the bad cholesterol, saturated fats and trans-fatty acids in the body which lead to heart diseases.

5. Sugar leads to Type-3 diabetes

Suzanne de lo Monte, a neuropathologist at Brown University had discovered the links between insulin resistance, high-fat diets and Alzheimer’s disease. In this type of diabetes, the insulin levels gets blocked in the brain due to which the brain’s ability to use glucose and produce energy is damaged.

6. Sugar turns you into junkie

Eating sugar triggers the release of hormones like opioids and dopamine that makes your brain feel ‘pleasure’ and provides you a satiety value, due to which you will always look for junk food or high sugar foods.

— this article is written by a dietitian @ FitHo

Is milk harmful for your health?

Recently, Harvard University scientists Dr. David Ludwig and Dr. Walter Willett published a journal in which they found “no data to support the claim that the consumption of dairy leads to better bones, weight loss, or improved health.” Most of American’s milk production is organic as compared to Indian milk production. Indian cows are mostly fed grass.

Milk, curd and dairy products are an essential part of the recommended “healthy Indian diet”. Milk is considered as a complete food as it contains all six of the essential nutrients. Milk protein is of excellent quality and it promotes growth and maintenance of body tissues. Calcium and phosphorus levels in milk are also very high.

Milk cream is rich in vitamin A and if that is removed as in skimmed milk, its vitamin A content becomes low. Riboflavin, a B vitamin, is present in significant quantities in milk. Fats present in milk are readily digested, as it is presented in an emulsified form. The carbohydrates of milk are lactose and it is hydrolyzed into glucose and galactose. The glycemic index of whole milk is 41 and for skim milks its 32. The glycemic load of whole milk is 5 and for skim milk is 4.

Whole milk contains 4.7% carbohydrates, 4% fats, 3.3% protein and 88% water. Fats in the form of oleic, palmitic and stearic acids are present in milk. Milk protein is casein and whey protein. Milk also contains potassium, sodium, calcium and magnesium chlorides and phosphates. Even though Iron is present in minute quantities, it is highly beneficial.

CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) is a type of fat associated with a wide variety of health benefits, including immune and inflammatory system support, improved bone mass, improved blood sugar regulation, reduced body fat, reduced risk of heart attack, and maintenance of lean body mass. According to recent studies, you’ll find yourself getting at least 75 milligrams of CLA from 1cup [250 ml] serving of grass-fed cow’s milk.

Dairy products are a part of our balanced diet. Milk acts as a “triple-duty food” as it provides protein, calcium and vitamin D. No matter what dairy product you’re choosing, stick to low-fat no sugar.

— this article is written by a dietitian @ FitHo

Is Corn Healthy or Unhealthy ?

Corn has always been in news as the enemy of the dieters. Is it really as unhealthy as they speak of it to be? Let us understand what makes corn healthy or unhealthy and what is the best form to consume it in.

Corn can be eaten boiled, steamed or grilled and is highly nutritious in its natural form. It provides instant energy for the body as it is high in carbohydrates and its high amount of fiber provides a healthy digestive system. It is low in fat and it also tastes goods to eat it regularly alone or in combination of fruits, vegetables, cereals etc. It has anti-oxidation properties along with flavnoids, carotenes which helps it fight diseases and free radicals. Corn is rich in phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, zinc, copper, iron and selenium. Corn is a good source of vitamins B1, B5, C, and E, as well as phosphorus.

Corn (Cr/freedigital)

Though eating corn in its natural form is healthier than eating it in some of its other processed products like corn syrup, fructose which are alternate substitute for sugar.

Another popular way of eating corn is as breakfast cereal made by combining milled corn with sugar.  The major ingredients include milled corn, sugar, iron, high fructose corn syrup and vitamins (A, B, C, D, and E). Cornflakes are high in glycemic index which quickly converts the sugar into energy which increases the blood sugar levels in the body and therefore not a healthy breakfast option, especially for those that need to control/manage their blood sugar.

Corn syrup is made from corn which is sweeter than sugar and is digested in our body in  an unhealthy manner and is fattening in the body when consumed. This corn syrup is cheap in cost and sweeter so it is used in various commercial products like chewing gums, toffees, cadies, baked products, indian sweets, cheap tomato ketchup, sweetened soda’s and beverages and drinks. It is highly substitued for sugar and is often used in baked products to maintain the moisture and keeps products fresher for longer periods.

Consuming corn in its natural form is healthy but high fructose corn syrup used products don’t provide the same health benefits as corn kernals as its constitution and nutrition value changes. Read nutritional value to know the form of corn used as it can hamper your weight loss and have not so healthy benefits on the body.

— this article is written by a dietitian @ FitHo

Breakfast Options that are not so Healthy

We have always emphasized on breakfast being the most important meal of the day. Healthy breakfast not only nourishes the body but also is very effective for weight loss. Some people eat unhealthy breakfast which not only adds empty calories but depletes the body of daily nutrition intake. Eating junk food, deep fried, fattening foods will only promote weight gain and keep you feeling heavy and sluggishness all through the day. Let us pin point some of the not so healthy breakfast options that are eaten by most of us and at times even considered healthy.

Toast with jam and butter(Cr/freedigital)

Corn Toast with cheese: The corn and cheese toast is made of a white sauce batter that has corn and cheese added to it. The white sauce batter is made out of white flour and contains no nutrition, while corn is nothing but starch. Mostly white bread is used as the base of this toast which is again an unhealthy option.

Parantha: Many people have a habit of eating paranthas for breakfast (more…)

— this article is written by a dietitian @ FitHo