How Diwali sweets can be good for you
During Diwali, the last thing you’d want is a dietician telling you what not to eat!
Nutrition experts are often subject to comments like “Oh! She is watching me” or “How many calories is this? Can I eat it?” And, the table laden with sweet dishes laboriously prepared for the festival is the last place where anyone needs to hear talk of calorie counts!!
So, this year, let’s talk about the goodness of Diwali sweets and how you can eat them.
There are some main ingredients that go into making several Diwali sweets, which excluding the sugar and maida, are healthy like nuts, saffron, besan, milk and desi ghee.
Did I say ghee? Ghee has been used in every household in India for ages, in Vedic rituals and Ayurvedic preparations. Not the kind one buys off the shelf from supermarkets, but yes, fresh ghee made from cow’s milk, unadulterated, without additives and made at home. Ghee has both saturated fat and cholesterol, but also antioxidants. Therefore, in limited amounts it is healthy. As with all saturated fats, ghee should be kept to less than 10% of the total fat intake. This means about 6gm of ghee in a day for someone on 2000 kcal diet. Due to its intense flavour, a small amount is enough to get the taste and feel of texture.
Nuts and seeds are also part of the Indian sweet making process and we have made an art out of that too! Potential calories, protein, good fats, minerals, antioxidants, fibre are all packed into these small delicious things, literally in a nutshell!
Saffron, the quintessentially exotic flavouring ingredient that we inherited from Persia around 500 BC, is one of the most expensive spices in the world. It adds natural colour to our kesari (sheera) and shrikand, and is also effective as a remedy for sleeplessness, indigestion, flatulence, asthma, whooping cough, menstrual cramps, vomiting and gets mentioned in ancient Sanskrit texts as anti-venom.
Besan – what would we do without this multi-purpose ingredient that we turn into curries, savouries and sweets! The protein content and fibre in besan controls blood sugar and cholesterol. Bengal gram has one of the lowest glycaemic index among all foods.
Milk-based sweets are the best loved – healthy for all, wholesome and part of our cuisine and culture.
Those who have a health reason to avoid fats and sugars but still want to enjoy the luxury of eating during Diwali should opt for sweets made with artificial sugar, use skimmed milk and reduce amount of pure ghee.
Eat singular portions and not handful or plateful of sweets and savouries
Space out the sweet eating at times after a main meal, should you eat at all and not as a snack between meals
Avoid sweets that are commercial or have maida in them. Go for sweets that have healthier ingredients like the ones mentioned above.
And above all, remember the saying that “Even ambrosia (or nectar of life) in large quantities is poisonous”. Everything in the right proportion is good and healthy!
Parvathy R Krishnan
The author is a trained Nutrition & Dietetics expert with over 20 years’ of experience in hospitals like Vijaya Hospital in Chennai and the Armed Forces Hospital and New Mowasat Hospitals in Kuwait. She is presently a member of the Research Society for the Study of Diabetes in India. Parvathy blogs at http://premadiet.blogspot.in/
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