Category Archives: Myth Busters

Breakfast Cereals Are Healthy & A Good Way to Start the Day

Let’s look at this nutrition myth and set the record straight once and for all so that you can cross it off your list.

A hearty nutritious breakfast is the much-needed fuel to restart the engine of the car after a night’s halt-over hence the name ‘break-fast’. It kick-starts the body metabolism and refuels the body’s glucose stores. Studies have shown that breakfast improves kids’ attention span, concentration, and memory. It prevents irritability, fatigue, and restlessness.

Our fast-paced lifestyles constantly change in tandem with increasing spending power, time crunch, dependency on convenience, and so-called health and fitness consciousness. So most reach out for breakfast cereals. Besides, let’s not forget the influence of western lifestyle and eating trends!

What goes into the cereal box?

Commercial breakfast cereals simply translate to refined carbs with added sugar. Why? Because breakfast cereal is made from processed grain. The grain-flour is mixed with water, sugar and/or chocolate and this mixture is extruded. The cereals maybe puffed, flaked or shredded. To top it off, they are coated with chocolate or frosted with sugar before drying and packaging.

Do they deliver what they promise?

The main marketing strategy is undoubtedly the nutritional plank. There is a wide range of commercial cereals to suit the needs of different people be it kids, all-family segment, aging adults or weight watchers. Consumers need to cautious that these breakfast cereals are often marketed with dubious claims and labels which can be misinterpreted.

As a matter of fact, a research conducted by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) on children’s breakfast cereal highlights that “promotional labeling on cereal boxes is designed to distract consumers from focusing on the unhealthy sugar content by making claims that the product provides important nutrients, such as ‘Excellent Source of Vitamin D’ or ‘Good Source of Fiber’ and so on.”

While children are enticed with cartoons or superheroes, parents are convinced with claims. EWG research also found that children’s cereals with cartoon characters on the box are among the most highly sweetened of all.

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Another aspect is that the nutritional benefits claimed on the pack are often not due to the cereal alone but with the suggested ingredients to be added or eaten with. If pairing with milk meets a percentage of protein and calcium requirement or adding fruits gives the required fiber then why do we need the cereal in the first place?

Whip-up your own cereal

So now you know that breakfast cereals aren’t healthy as claimed. But if your child cannot do without breakfast cereals, make your own healthy cereal mix with unprocessed plain cereals. How about ragi flakes with yogurt or milk, a handful of fresh fruits and a sprinkle of dry fruits/nuts!

Are Potatoes Bad?

The humble potato has earned a bad reputation in the recent years and very often it is banished from all diets. So is it true that potatoes are bad and should not form a part of our diet?

The answer is no…. In terms of its nutritional benefits, the potato has been vastly underrated and grossly misunderstood. It’s high time we peel back the truth about the nutrient treasure trove that lies in the little spud that is the potato.

Potato Nutrition 101

You may be surprised to know that potato offers a number of nutrients and benefits. Maybe not a good source of protein, but the little protein present in potatoes is completely available to the body (i.e., excellent biological value) like the egg.

Minerals like potassium, phosphorous and calcium are present in significant levels and each has their own respective roles in body functioning. Surprisingly, this spud contains a notable amount of fiber, especially the peel. This helps provide satiety, delay hunger pangs and help prevent constipation.

Skin-on potatoes are an excellent source of vitamin C, potassium and fiber.

Last but not the least, vitamins – potatoes are an excellent source of vitamin C. But what else? Let’s not forget B vitamins like folic acid, niacin, pyridoxine, riboflavin, and thiamine are also present.

Potatoes have a plethora of phytonutrients that parade antioxidant activity. Carotenoids, flavonoids, caffeic acid, as well as unique tuber storage proteins, such as patatin, all flaunt powers of fighting harmful free radicals.

Talking of benefits, although potato is typically not considered a good source of dietary iron, iron uptake is enhanced by its high vitamin C content. Potatoes contain significant amounts of vitamins B9 and B6 which are crucial for optimal brain functioning.

However, the main advantage of potato is the starch content, the very thing for which it is damned. Puzzled? Carbohydrates provide the glucose required for the brain to function and to fuel the muscles during activities, games or exercise. So potatoes are the go-to fuel before kids head out for games and sports.

Why the bad name dame?

How did potato become the culprit to all the bad health effects? Where are we going wrong? It’s not difficult to see that, unfortunately, the popular Western form of preparation and preferred forms of potato are either fried or even if baked, it is typically loaded with cheese, butter, cream and/or other such fat-rich products. Least did we realize that barring the extra source of fat, potatoes can be exceptionally healthy.

On the other hand, our Indian potato-based dishes are used along with other vegetables and pulses and rarely witnessed as a deep fried form (even the aloo bondas have dal based coating). So keep those jackets on the potatoes, mix them up with veggies, and resort to baking, steaming, roasting or grilling and enjoy!