Why Maggi noodles aren’t the only foods that should be getting a rap
After reports of unacceptably high levels of MSG and lead in Maggi noodles, the instant food brand isn’t quite jumping off the shelves. But there are lots of other foods we believe are healthy – thanks to some clever advertising – which are equally damaging or, at best, devoid of any health benefits. Here are the major culprits:
Instant noodles, the anytime meal
Many people might find it hard to imagine a world without instant noodles. Even Amitabh Bachchan would have us believe it’s the taste of India. But think about it. Is convenience so crucial in your eating, that you’d put away all that maida and synthetic flavour rather than toss up something fresh and healthy?
Studies have also shown that the flavour enhancers convert to MSG when cooked. So much for the declaration of ‘Contains no added MSG’. A handful of nuts, some boiled channa or a chappati roll is a much better thing to feed your child when he’s hungry between meals.
Cereal for breakfast
Don’t be fooled by those images of golden ears of wheat waiting to be harvested. Or advice from fake TV mums telling you that a bowl of cereal with a fruit garnish will have your kid topping his class. While cereals are certainly good for the body, the stuff that comes in eye-catching cartons isn’t.
It’s been through a food extrusion process that strips away most of the nutrients. Breakfast cereals that target children are loaded with sugar and flavouring agents. And it’s certainly not a good idea to exchange a balanced meal for bowls of cereal for quick weight loss. Swap cereals for traditional breakfast foods, depending on what your traditional foods are: idli-sambar, paratha-dahi, a plate of poha. It’s the best.
Biscuits as snacks
Many people believe biscuits are good, because they aren’t visibly greasy and, again, advertising tells us they are enriched with fibre, calcium, iron and more. In fact, hydrogenated oils and trans fats are key ingredients in biscuit manufacturing.
So-call fibre-enriched ones only contain a minuscule amount of your daily fibre needs. Swap that packet of biscuits for a handful of channa, a slice of fruit or even some peanut chikki for when you want a sugar rush and make a healthier choice.
Tetrapack juice as health drinks
No matter the assurances of whole fruit and no added sugar, the juice that you buy in tetrapacks isn’t all that it claims itself to be. The processing removes essential nutrients; the stuff has to stay in the pack for months, even years, remember?
Also, the percentage of real fruit isn’t ever 100 %. Read the label next time. Far better to eat a whole fruit that’s in season or make your own juice. Tender coconut is a super healthy thirst quencher as well.
Creamy cup dahi
It’s convenience that makes most people reach for that plastic cup of factory-made dahi. Manufacturers may claim it’s free of preservatives and additives, but how does a naturally souring product sit on a supermarket shelve for days, even weeks without any change?
According to ayurveda, the benefits of curd can only be derived when it’s set fresh and eaten fresh. So, why not make your own at home? It’s not that hard. Boil the milk, allow to cool till lukewarm. Place a couple of teaspoons of ‘starter dahi’ in a non-reactive bowl and pour in the milk. Leave undisturbed till set. You can’t use branded cup dahi for a starter; it won’t set. Borrow from a neighbor or use dahi that comes in sachets.
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