As a nation, food has remained the cornerstone of our festivities for generations upon generations. We all have fond memories of savoring home cooked food as well as the culinary delights of the neighborhood snack shop.

But what about the damage that was done to our insides and the suffering we had to endure due to stomach infections, ulcers, IBD (Irritable bowel syndrome) etc.?

Fortunately for us folk living in the 21st century, we have the information close at hand to save us from unwanted health problems. Break your heart it must, but here are 5 Indian foods that you’ve been relishing that are a big no-no when it comes to everyday pet puja.

  1. Samosas: A spicy, crispy and deep-fried snack made of maida (refined flour) and potato filling, loaded with carbs and trans-fats with next to no nutritional value. These trans fats lead to the clogging of arteries later resulting in heart disease and frequent consumption of maida increases your chances of a diabetes diagnosis.It is estimated that India will soon have the highest number of heart disease patients in the world and we already have the second highest number of diabetes sufferers globally. Still, want to eat your favorite snack at 4 p.m. with a glass of chai? I thought not.
  2. Poori Sabzi: This dish is alarmingly high in calories with the pooris usually deep fried in hydrogenated vegetable oil, accompanied by a potato curry that has also been prepared with the same kind of oil.
    Four pieces of poori and bhaji come up to approximately 450 calories and 20 grams of fat. And this is just for one meal of the day. The recommended daily allowance is somewhere near those numbers, but then again, they are required to be from healthy fat sources. Think before you dig into those delicious little puffs and curries.
  3. Naan: Do you know how your favorite unleavened bread is made? Chances are it’s not made yeast-free and whole-wheat. 1 piece of this, just one (and mind you, without your favorite dollop of ghee or butter) comes in at a little more than a 100 calories and ghee is very high in saturated fat. If you add a tablespoon of ghee that’s another 100+ calories. You wouldn’t eat just one naan, would you?
  4. Chole Bhature: This is definitely at the top of the list of the unhealthiest food you could be consuming and feeding to your little ones. They seem so harmless, sitting elegantly to a side on your plate, in all their billowy splendor. Be warned! Squeezing out the oil in that fat delicious pillow could probably assist you in tomorrow’s home cooking.
    To speak nothing of that spicy chole with its dhania (coriander) garnishing. Nothing on that plate could save you in your fight against heart disease, cholesterol or a stomach upset unless you’re one of those blessed rare beings equipped with an iron stomach that could digest almost anything.
  5. Momos: Not Indian by origin but adopted out of fondness and appreciation for the hot and spicy nature of the dish. These were usually eaten steamed rather than deep-fried until a while back which made them a tad healthier than the others listed above but they come with their own unique health risks.
    Maida and MSG (Mono Sodium Glutamate) are the frontrunners. MSG is an additive used mostly in Asian cooking as a flavor enhancer.
    What makes a bad situation worse is consuming them from roadside stalls and dodgy eateries that increase the risk of stomach upsets and food poisoning due to low-quality products and chemical additives. Proceed with caution.

The fast-paced nature of city living can result in healthy and sensible eating habits taking a back seat. Cravings that have become second nature to all of us only make matters worse.

What can be done, however, is to find some middle ground in this mess, a step that can be enhanced gradually towards healthier life choices. As the adage goes, enjoy all things in moderation.

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