• Kanika Chauhan

Foods: more than a treat for hunger

Almonds are the little crunchy characters, known for their nutritional value. They are high in calories and fat, but if you consume them in moderation, they have a number of health benefits. According to a new study on almonds, it can help you feel full for longer periods, keeping you from overeating.

Almonds are a great source of protein minus the bad fats that are present in other sources of protein. They lower cholesterol and increase the levels of a number of important nutrients, including vitamin E, magnesium, fiber, potassium, calcium, phosphorus and iron. The phytochemicals, plant chemicals, present in almond, provide powerful protection against heart disease, stroke, and other chronic diseases.

Quick serving ideas

  1. Chopped almonds and dried fruit added to plain yoghurt make a good snack.

  2. Toss some almonds into salads, stir-fries, fruit salad, and hot or cold cereal.

  3. Enhance a healthy sauté of curried vegetables with sliced almonds.

Barley

Barley is a whole grain, which not only adds a unique delightful flavour to the dishes but also adds nutritional value to the food. It is rich in protein, vitamins, minerals and amino acids that are essential for good health.

Barley is one of the richest sources of both soluble and insoluble fiber. The insoluble fiber aids in the proper excretion of waste products in the body, while soluble fiber (known as beta-glucan) mixes with liquid, binds to fatty substances and allows them to leave the body. Recent studies showed that a diet high in beta-glucan helps to lower blood LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol). Eating foods made with barley products, such as flour, grits, flakes, or the whole grain itself, three times a day can lower blood cholesterol levels by about fifteen per cent.

It also helps to stabilize blood glucose levels, which may benefit people with diabetes. Three muffins made with barley flour eaten every day can completely clear up constipation and thus ward off other digestive troubles.

Quick serving ideas

  1. Mix barley flour with wheat flour to make slices of bread, muffins and cookies.

  2. Use cracked barley or barley flakes to make hot cereal.

  3. Toss chilled cooked hulled barley into salads and make it more nutritive.

Cranberries

The cranberries are a type of acidic berries that are rich in vitamin C and contain excellent infection-fighting properties. They have the ability to decrease total cholesterol and LDL, or bad cholesterol, and increase blood flow.

Cranberries are rich in flavonoids, the phytonutrients that inhibit certain types of cancer and polyphenolic compounds that protect against neurodegenerative diseases that relate to the memory and coordination losses.

The proanthocyanidins found in cranberries prevent in urinary tract infections by inhibiting E. coli bacteria from attaching to the urinary tract wall. The National Kidney Foundation recommends drinking at least one large glass of cranberry juice a day to help maintain urinary tract health.

Quick serving ideas

  1. Because of their bitter taste, combine cranberry with other fruits, like oranges, apples, pineapple or pears. Add a little fruit juice, honey or maple syrup to chopped, fresh cranberries.

  2. Use dried cranberry to your favourite recipes for rice pudding, quick slices of bread or muffins to give it variety and colour.

  3.  Sprinkle a handful of dried cranberries over a bowl of hot oatmeal, barley, or any cold cereal.

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