Tag Archives: protein

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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Healthy weight loss diet

We work hard to lead a good life. Sometimes we forget a good life is not the end but a means to the end. Good life is directly linked to be healthy, both physically and mentally. Unfortunately day to day stress, not eating right, sedentary lifestyle is making you physically unhealthy which is most commonly seen as weight gain. This weight gain is shaving years off your life by making you more prone to lifestyle diseases like heart health, diabetes, etc. You can easily manage and even reverse this lifestyle condition by controlling your weight with the help of a healthy weight loss diet.

Eating healthy is as simple or as complicated we make it. For starters let’s debunk the common myth attached to being healthy. Its not the chapattis or rice that is making you fat. Its the lack of routine and readiness to eat out more often than you should be that is adding to your waist line. Therefore a healthy weight loss diet should contain everything but in moderation.
So before you jump of a weight loss diet band wagon here are a few things you need to know about healthy weight loss diet.

1) Stop counting calories:

Focusing on calories is extremely complicated and impractical. Some people can successfully control their diet by counting calories but for most of us its impossible to put a number on everything that goes in your mouth and then keep up with the math! Instead focus on the quality of food and not the quantity. Its a lot simpler.

2) Exotic foods are not important:

Most diets fail in the long term is because the foods suggested are not a part of your actual day to day life. For most of the ingredients you have to go out of your way and source them. You dont need fancy foods to boost your metabolism. Starting your day with something as basic as, drinking plain glass of water, can help boost metabolism.

3) You Don’t need to eat every two hours:

Most people on a weight loss diet are recommended to eat every two hours. But this is kind of impractical for working professionals or people with active social life. A healthy weight loss diet can consist of 3 meals with two optional snacks. Eating every two hours makes you constantly think of food. This makes it especially difficult for foodies who cant seem to get a break from thinking about food. Your day needs to have more elements other than just thinking and planning your next meal.

4) Avoid Fruits for Weight loss:

People avoid fruit when on a diet because of its sugar content. Fruits contain sugar, but this sugar is very different from added sugar. Sugar found in fruits does not spike your blood sugar levels like added sugar does. Besides Fruits area storehouse of nutrition & contain essential nutrients like antioxidants that are critical for good health. NO other food source contains antioxidants and othet variety of nutrients found in fruit.

5) Protein is not the only nutrient that helps in weight loss:

People think protein helps you lose weight. But they dont know how. Protein simply keeps you full for longer helping curb hunger. But remember if you eat more protein than your body can digest it stores all that extra protein as fat in your body. Besides protein sources also have calories. Just eating a diet high on protein will not magically shave the extra weight from your body.

Completely depriving yourself of food you like will only lead to suppression, which you can only last for a short period of time. What happens when you completely stop doing what you love doing? You become obsessive about it and when the flood gates open the damage is very difficult to reverse. More over this behaviour adds a lot of mental stress to an individual. So remember moderation is the secret sauce to a healthy weight loss diet.

 

— this article is written by a dietitian @ FitHo

Are You Intolerant to Milk? Some Alternatives to Dairy Milk

Milk is amongst the most nutritious beverage for all ages. It contains good amounts of calcium, protein and some other nutrients. But there are many among us who are intolerant to milk. In most cases, it means you are intolerant to lactose. Lactose intolerance is not the same as a milk allergy, which involves your immune system.

Lactose is the sugar in milk. If you’re lactose intolerant, a glass of milk or a bowl of creamy soup can give you intestinal trouble like cramps, gas, diarrhea, or bloating. That’s because your small intestine isn’t making enough of the enzyme lactase. Lactase breaks down milk sugar so your bloodstream can absorb it well.

When a person is not able to tolerate milk then one should look after the loss of nutrients by consuming other milk alternatives, which actually makeup the lost nutrients in the body. Here are some milk alternatives for those who are unable to tolerate milk.

1.      Soya milk

Soya milk is the most popular milk alternative. Its main ingredient is soyabean. Soy milk contains no lactose since it’s made from soybeans, which are naturally lactose-free. Soy milk has the most similar nutrition profile to cow’s milk, with 8 to 10 grams of protein per serving and is often fortified with calcium, vitamins A and D and riboflavin. Soy iso-flavones have been shown to be beneficial in preventing heart disease and at least 10mg per day can decrease breast cancer recurrence by 25%.

2.      Almond milk

Almond milk is also like cow’s milk in texture, though slightly beige in color. It tastes faintly like almonds. It may have more calcium than dairy milk, along with vitamins D and E. But an 8-ounce glass of almond milk has only about 1 gram of protein.

3.      Rice milk

Rice milk is white, like cow’s milk, and thinner and sweeter than almond milk. It doesn’t work as well as thicker milks in sauces and puddings. It is low in protein, like almond milk. But you can find it fortified with calcium.

4.      Coconut milk

 Coconut milk is another alternative for lactose intolerance. It is creamy like whole milk. It has little protein, though, and about the same amount of saturated fat as whole milk — about 4 grams in a cup.

If you are lactose intolerant, do try these dairy milk alternatives to makeup the loss of nutrients in body.

— this article is written by a dietitian @ FitHo

Are Egg Yolks Healthier than Egg Whites?

Eggs are amongst the healthiest natural foods. They are a power house of nutrients. In fact, two eggs a day can take care of a lot of our daily essential nutrient requirement. But many of us feel that the egg yolk is unhealthy and stay away from eggs for that reason. Those on a weight loss diet, discard the egg yolks from the whole egg and only eat the white (which according to many contains most of the protein, which is not entirely true). Here we will highlight the benefits of the egg yolk and egg white by comparing their nutritive values.

Egg whites are slightly higher in protein content than yolks. Egg white contains around 3.6 gm while yolk has 2.7 gm of protein. So if you are avoiding the yolk, you are basically throwing away 40% of the protein content of the egg. Egg whites are very low on calories, i.e., 17 calories, while the yolk contains around 59 calories. Egg whites are rich in sodium, i.e., 55 mg of sodium per single egg white, whereas an egg yolk contains 8 mg of sodium per egg yolk.

In case of fat, an egg white contains .06 gm of fat and no saturated fat, where as an egg yolk contains 4.5 gm of fat and 1.6 gm of saturated fat. The same is with the cholesterol content. Egg white contains no cholesterol while the egg yolk contains 210 mg. An egg white has 0.24 grams of carbohydrates, where as an egg yolk has 0.61 grams of carbohydrates.

The yolk contains 100% of the carotenoids, essential fatty acids like omega-3 fatty acid DHA and omega-6 fatty acid arachidonic acids. It even contains vitamins A, E, D, and K. The white does not contain any of the above mentioned nutrients.

The yolk contains more than 90% of the calcium, iron, phosphorus, zinc, thiamin, B6, folate, and B12, and 89% of the B5. The white does not contain more than 90% of any nutrient, but contains over 80% of the magnesium, sodium, and niacin.
The yolk contains between 50% and 80% of the copper, manganese, and selenium, while the white contains between 50% and 80% of the potassium, riboflavin, and protein.

As you can tell, eating an egg yolk is almost equivalent to consuming a multi vitamin. Also, research has shown that eating 4 or less egg yolks a week does not affect the heart in any way. The next time, do think twice before discarding an egg yolk.

— this article is written by a dietitian @ FitHo

The Perfect Protein Food For Vegetarian Indian Cuisine

Indian cuisine has a wide variety of pulse preparations, each with varying flavors and spices, depending on the region. In many Indian families, pulses are an important part of every major meal. But did you know that these pulses are actually a very good source of protein and also provide a variety of other essential nutrients.

As many Indians are vegetarians, these different types of pulses are an essential source of protein. That is why, all the different types of dals/pulses are very important for the typical Indian diet. On average, a single serving of 30 grams provides 7-8 grams of protein. Other than that, dal has many different nutritional benefits. In Indian cuisine dal is prepared by adding different ingredients for example, garlic which is said to help reduce muscle soreness and is a cancer fighter, chilli powder which is an excellent antioxidant that also helps increase your metabolic rate, turmeric which possesses antibacterial and anti- cancer properties and fenugreek which has the ability to regulate blood-sugar response. All of these spices and condiments added during preparation multiply the benefits of cooked dal.

So here are some types of dals and their exclusive health benefits.

1. Moong dal

A single serving of 30 grams provide you approximately 6.5 gram protein, 5 gram fiber and 0.5 gram fat. It is also a rich source of iron and potassium. This dal can be used in sprouted form which increases the bioavailability of iron.

2. Bengal gram dal (Chana dal)

A single serving of 30 grams provide you approximately 6.2 gram protein, 6 gram fiber and 0.6 gram fat. It is also rich in trace minerals like copper, manganese etc. Having this dal helps keeps diabetes at bay.

3. Masoor dal

A single serving of 30 grams provide you approximately 7.8 gram protein, 9 gram fiber and 0.3 gram fat. It is also beneficial for people suffering from bile reflux, and improves blood circulation in the body.

4. Black gram dal (urad dal)

A single serving of 30 grams provide you approximately 7.5 gram protein, 5.5 gram fiber and 0.5 gram fat. This dal is one of the richest sources of protein and Vitamin B.

5. Pigeon peas (Toor dal)

A single serving of 30 grams provide you approximately 6.6 gram protein, 4.5 gram fiber and 0.4 gram fat. This dal has immense amounts of complex dietary fibers that help to regularize bowel movements.

So vegetarian or not, dal could be a great addition to your diet. Not just for the protein, but even for the wide variety of nutrients and flavours it offers.

— this article is written by a dietitian @ FitHo

Simple Diet Tips To Keep The Weight Off

Do you want to shed that extra pound but don’t get time to exercise?  Although doing exercises can speed up your weight loss but here are some diet tricks which you can include in your routine, to help keep your weight off. 

1. Include protein in your diet

Protein is an important macro nutrient and plays a major role in various physiological conditions. The requirement of protein depends on the body and other factors such as size, age and gender. When you take sufficient protein in your diet it keeps you full for longer as it require more time to get digest. Your body also needs protein to build and maintain muscles but remember to maintain a balance between your carbohydrate, fat, protein and other nutrients to keep your body healthy as high protein diet can affect you adversely. Major sources of protein are egg, chicken, milk, yoghurt, cheese, soy and beans.

2. Include fiber in your meal

Fiber is that part of the plant food that is not broken down in the intestines by human digestive enzymes. Fiber can be either insoluble or soluble but most fiber-containing foods have both properties. Eating sufficient fiber adds bulk to you meals and therefore delays the time required for emptying the stomach. This keeps you fuller for longer durations and gives you higher satiety. Including enough fiber in your diet also improves your gut health by increasing the amount of good bacteria in your gut. Recommended intake of fiber is 35 to 40 grams per day. The best way to increase fiber in your diet is by making sure you eat more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes. Incorporate high-fiber foods into your diet with simple tweaks to your recipes — for example, by adding beans to soup, oats to your favorite smoothie, etc.

3. Focus on your meal while eating

Never eats your meal in a hurry. Sit down calmly and focus on what you are eating. Not only will this provide you with greater satisfaction, it will even help your brain regulate your appetite and prevent overeating. Many people have a habit of reading the newspaper while eating their breakfast or watching television. These habits lead to overeating since it reduces appetite control as we are engrossed in the newspaper or television. It can add hundreds of extra calories to your diet. Therefore, if you want to avoid unwanted calories just focus on your meal while eating.

4. Drink enough water

Quite often, people get confused between their thirst and hunger. The brain interprets thirst but you might take it as hunger, resulting in food cravings. So the next time you feel hungry in between your meals or at an odd hour first drink a glass of water. Add a hint of lemon, ginger, mint or cucumber to regular water to give it an interesting flavor.

5. Take enough sleep

Disturbed or insufficient sleep can affect your health adversely in 3 ways. Firstly lack of sleep can lead to disturbed physiology of your body. So, when you do not get enough sleep it may lead to cravings and an over-consumption of calories. Secondly when you do not sleep enough it disturbs your hormonal balance by increasing the level of ghrelin hormone. Ghrelin is a hormone known for its affect on appetite and disturbed level of ghrelin hormone leads to increased appetite. Disturbed hormones level also lead to irritation or frustration feeling without any specific reason. And thirdly when your body is deprived of sleep your metabolism slows down and will not function properly.  It directly affects your weight loss as your body is not working effectively in burning the calories. That slowdown triggers the release of the hormone cortisol, which is a stress hormone and increases appetite. Your body thinks it needs more energy and that’s why you feel hungry.

Adopting these healthy habits will help keep your weight off and improve your overall health. Make these habits a permanent part of your lifestyle, to benefit from them for the rest of your life.

— this article is written by a dietitian @ FitHo

Couscous and its health benefits

Couscous is made of semolina flour. Couscous is the staple food of Northern Africa. It is also made of whole wheat flour, which further increases its nutritional value. It is very versatile and its preparation requires little more than hot water and fluffing with a fork. It can be served as a side dish or can also be served with sautéed vegetables, soups and morning breakfast cereal.

Nutritional properties of Couscous:-

1 cup (30g) of couscous contains-
130g -Carbohydrates
6g -Protein
1g -Fat
2.2g -Fibre
43mcg -Selenium
91.1mg -Potassium
176kcal-Energy

Health benefits:-

1.Protein
Protein found in Couscous is 12% of the daily dietary requirement. Protein contains amino acids which are essential for body tissue repair and protein even controls appetite and calorie intake. Researchers found that protein causes the brain to receive low levels of appetite stimulating hormones.

2.Fibre
The amount of fibre present in Couscous is 9% of the daily dietary requirement. Fibre increases the satiety value of Couscous which keeps you from feeling hungry for longer durations and keeps you away from overeating.

3.Fat
Couscous hardly contains any fat, making it an ideal choice for weight loss diets.

4.Calories
30 grams of Couscous contains 176Kcal which is 9% of the daily dietary requirement. The calorie content is quite low compared to other similar foods.

5.Selenium
The amount of selenium found in Couscous is 43mcg which is equal to the daily dietary requirement of our body. Selenium is good for the brain, helps with low thyroid functioning and prevents premature aging.

6.Potassium
The amount of potassium found in 30gms of Couscous is 91.1mg, which 39% of 3500mg (daily dietary requirement). Potassium plays an important role in blood pressure regulation and also maintains the body’s fluid balance.
So, couscous is a great addition to your diet with a variety of health benefits.

— this article is written by a dietitian @ FitHo

7 foods that Pack on Muscle

Do you spend hours at your gym, lifting heavy weight, but are unable to see any sufficient muscle gains? Then here are some foods you should include in your diet to build muscles.

1. Eggs: Eggs are one of the richest sources of protein with highest biological value. It is a reference to the measure of how well a food can support the human body’s protein needs. 1 large egg of about 50 grams contains approximately 6 grams of protein. This can be considered as the best protein for your muscles. Many people avoid eating yolk because of its fat and cholesterol content. However, if you want to build your muscles you need not avoid the yolk, as it provides vitamin B12, which is necessary for fat breakdown and muscle contraction. Also, fat present in yolk is healthy fat that helps in lowering the levels of bad fat from the body.

2. Oatmeal: Oatmeal is a rich source of complex carbohydrates. These types of carbohydrates slowly release energy in your body. You can have a cup of oatmeal 1-2 hours before your workout. It will give you enough energy to complete the workout. You can add some fruits and nuts to your oatmeal to increase the fiber and protein content.

3. Almonds: Almonds are a good source of alpha-tocopherol, which is a form of Vitamin E that gets readily absorbed by the body. It is important for your muscles as vitamin E protects your muscles from free radical damage. You can have some almonds with a fruit before a workout.

4. Cottage Cheese: It a good source of casein protein which is a slow digesting dairy protein. As compared to other dairy products, cottage cheese elevates the levels of amino acid and keeps them high for a longer time. This helps in building muscles.

5. Olive Oil: Olive oil is a good source of monounsaturated fats which act as anti-catabolic nutrients. Catabolism is a pathway of metabolism which leads to muscle breakdown for releasing energy. Anti-catabolic nutrients provide energy to your body and protect your muscles from breaking down.

6. Yoghurt: Yoghurt is an ideal combination of protein and carbohydrates for exercise recovery and muscle growth. It also contains live culture which helps in digesting other nutrients present in your food. You can add some sliced fruits to your yoghurt to make it high in fiber content.

7. Fish: Fish is a good source of high quality protein and omega-3 fatty acids. It can decrease muscle-protein breakdown after your workout and helps in fast recovery. But avoid having fried fish and opt for grilled or roasted fish with some sautéed vegetables with it.

You can include these foods in your diet to improve muscle growth, but to be healthy and fit you need to balance your diet in terms of protein, carbohydrates, fats and other minor and major nutrients.

— this article is written by a dietitian @ FitHo

The Nutrients your Body Needs Every Day

A healthy and balanced diet is the key to a healthy body. But a balanced diet should include a variety of nutrients. Below is a list of nutrients and their sources, and their recommended daily values.

-Calcium: It is a vital nutrient for the body as it helps in providing strength to your bones. Strong bones are less prone to fracture and diseases like osteoporosis. Calcium also plays a role in nerve transmission, maintenance of healthy blood vessels and muscle contraction. The recommended amount of calcium is 1g/day. To meet the daily recommended value add dairy products like milk, curd, paneer and green leafy vegetables like spinach, broccoli, etc to your diet.

-Fiber: Dietary fiber helps in proper bowel movement and provides bulk to your stool which decreases the chances of constipation. It also helps in regulating blood sugar levels in the body as the presence of fiber in food slows down the absorption of the sugar. Soluble dietary fiber helps in controlling the levels of cholesterol by reducing the levels of “bad” fat from the body. The recommended amount of dietary fiber is 40g/day. Include fruits, vegetable, whole grains and legumes in your daily diet.

-Magnesium: Many studies have shown that magnesium with calcium helps in improving the bone mineral density in the body. Magnesium deficiency can affect calcium metabolism and a fluctuation in the levels of hormones that regulate calcium can result in osteoporosis. It is associated with lowering the risk of coronary heart disease and helps in regulating high blood pressure. It also plays a major role in controlling diabetes, migraines, insomnia, and depression. Recommended amount of magnesium is 410mg/day. Include nuts, whole grains, wheat germ, fish, and green leafy vegetables in your diet to increase magnesium intake.

-Vitamin E: Vitamin E is a type of antioxidant which protects your body cells from free radical damage. Free radicals lead to break down of healthy cells and may contribute to heart disease and cancer. It also helps strengthening immunity. The recommended amount of vitamin E is 15mg/day. To get your daily dose of this vitamin include nuts, vegetable oil, eggs and green leafy vegetables in your daily diet.

-Vitamin C: Vitamin C is also a type of antioxidant that protects your body against free radical damage. Apart from this, vitamin C supports collagen production in joints. Collagen is a shock absorbing gel like substance which fills up the space between two bones in a joint. The recommended dose of vitamin C is 75-90mg/day. Rich sources of vitamin C include citrus fruits, nuts, vegetables, etc.

-Vitamin A: Vitamin A plays a major role in maintaining vision, cell growth and promotes healthy tissue and skin. It also participates in physiological activities related to the immune system, inflammatory system, maintenance of epithelial and mucosal tissues, creation of red blood cells, and bone development. The recommended dose of vitamin A is 600-900 µg/day. Rich sources of vitamin A are sweet potato, carrot, spinach, Green leafy vegetables, etc.

-Vitamin D: Vitamin D increases the absorption of calcium in the body and helps in building strong bones. It helps in regulating insulin activity and blood sugar balance in the body and prevents muscle weakness. The recommended amount of vitamin D is 600 IU/day. The food sources of vitamin D include milk, egg, and fatty fishes like salmon, tuna and some variety of mushrooms. To get your daily dose of vitamin D morning sunlight is the best source. There are hormones beneath the skin which produce Vitamin D with help from sunlight.

-Potassium: It is one of the electrolytes and even helps in managing electrolyte levels in the body. A diet high in potassium levels is associated with improved blood pressure control. It also contributes to improved kidney function, reduction in blood clotting, and more efficient opening of blood vessels. The recommended value of potassium is 4.7g/day. Five foods rich in potassium include Swiss chard, lima beans, potatoes, yams, and soybeans.

-Protein: Protein is the building block of tissues. It is required to repair the daily wear and tear of the cells in the body. Protein is an important part of the diet as it helps in building muscles. Recommended value of protein is 46-56g/day. To have recommended amount of protein in your daily diet include milk, curd, paneer, eggs, lean cuts of chicken, soy and beans in your diet.

-Iron: Iron is a part of red blood cells and helps in transportation of oxygen in the body. In case of iron deficiency, or anemia, the body’s efficiency to transport oxygen decreases. As a result you may feel lethargic and fatigued. The recommended amount of iron is 18g/day. Foods rich in iron include, green leafy vegetables, nuts, beans and pulses, whole grain, etc.

To have a healthy and balanced diet chooses your foods wisely to maximize the benefits of different nutrients.

— this article is written by a dietitian @ FitHo

Is Including High Protein in Daily Diet A Good Idea?

Question / Dilemma: The trainer suggested I should have a high protein diet. Is including protein in my daily diet a good idea?

 

Answer: Muscles require protein for wear and tear and repair of tissues. But protein is not the only driving factor in building muscles. You also require carbohydrates for energy during workouts and healthy fats to help optimize hormonal levels like promoting testosterone growth for muscle repair and growth. 1.2 gm per kg of body weight is recommended for active bodies. Remember not to overload on protein, as the body won’t process the amount it requires and the extra protein will get saved as fat in the body.

Answered by Prachi Agarwal, first appeared in HT City (Hindustan Times), Get Healthy Delhi! campaign, where she is a Fitness Expert on the panel of health experts.

— this article is written by a dietitian @ FitHo