Snack Your Way to a Healthy Lifestyle

We are hopefully at the end of a long dark tunnel. With the rollout of the Covid-19 vaccines, the whole world is breathing a collective sigh of relief. For the majority, life at home was both exhilarating and frustrating: the much-hoped-for companionship with dear ones making it enjoyable, even as work invaded homes turning them out into arenas of tense existence.

The last 9 months have also been a time of gourmet delights, many of us taking a lot many snacks to see the day through and sit through one film after the other. Some might already be paying the price for such food adventures. Perhaps it is time to remind oneself that foods which entertain one’s taste buds well may not satisfy one’s nutrition requirements.

Unwholesome snacks

According to Ayurveda, one's health depends on the amount and quality of food eaten. One can stay healthy simply by keeping unwholesome food beyond one’s reach. In each day's diet, we combine wholesome and unwholesome food, knowingly or unknowingly. This happens mostly because the habit of snacking.

Today we have many mouth-watering choices for a snack: fried, spicy, frozen, and sweet - to name a few. These foods are liked much due to the tastes they offer. And we forget the fact that they contain relatively high amount of calories and unhealthy fat. Is there a substitute? Nuts and dry fruits which offer more quality in less quantity are the best substitutes for common spicy snacks of today.

For example, an ounce of cashew nut has 5 grams of protein in it. It is cholesterol-free, and has heart friendly fatty acids. Cashews help diabetics to reduce their triglyceride levels with its monounsaturated fats. Many varieties of nuts and dry fruits are available in markets today. Cashew nuts, dates, almonds, raisins, pistachio, apricot, walnuts and fig are the most popular items.

How can we know their quality?

One nut or fruit might be better than another because of its taste, size, shape or colour, which solely depends on their places of origin. For example, raisins coming from Afghanistan are considered to be of superior quality. So when you buy it keenly watch its size, colour, freshness and check whether it is packed hygienically.

How to eat?

Raisins can be used after soaking in water overnight. Dates can be taken directly or with water or milk. Cashew nuts can be taken with milk or directly.

Around one ounce (6-10 numbers) of cashew nuts is enough for a day for a healthy one. Pistachios and almonds also can be used directly or with milk. Peanuts are available in butter form which can be used with bread, etc. Dry fruits and nuts can be used as salad toppings. They can be added in a variety of dishes like oat meal, cereals, curries and cakes.

Even diabetics can have nuts and dry fruits in their menu, excluding some items like dates and raisins. The amount and timings should be chosen carefully according to the person's condition. A diabetic should seek advice from a dietician/physician before adding these into daily menu. 


Moderation is the key

 Nuts and dry fruits are high calorie foods. Due to great taste, there may be a tendency to consume them in unhealthy quantities, which should be avoided. A handful a day is enough for a healthy person. You can eat them straight. For ensuring proper nutrition, mix more than two of them in a day's menu. And say ‘no’ to fried and salted nuts. 

At office 

It is so easy to carry some dry fruits or nuts to your office; and you can also enjoy them while travelling. At office, have a few cashew nuts or peanuts or dates at your teatime instead of any fried food. You can ensure limited consumption by eating them when you are not so hungry. 

They should be stored in a tightly sealed container in a cool, dry place. It is better to buy them in moderate quantities. Limit the usage by considering your body conditions. 

• More quality from less quantity (a handful a day is enough) 

• Heart friendly – Nuts mostly contain high density lipoproteins or HDL, which is known as good cholesterol 

• Presence of fats that lower cholesterol (Poly unsaturated and mono unsaturated fats - omega 3 fatty acids) 

• Good source of carbohydrates, dietary fibre, Potassium and Iron 

• Good source of calcium, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, B-complex vitamins and magnesium 

• Dried fruits are very good source of vitamins and fibre. They are made from fresh fruit and are rich in calories. 

Pancha kashaya: Five aqueous extracts 

1.   Svarasa: It is the expressed juice, prepared by taking the fresh plant. The herb is wrapped in a cloth and pounded well. Then it is squeezed to express the juice. If the fresh plant is unavailable, one part of the dried powder of that herb is taken and it is mixed with water measuring double quantity of the powder. This is allowed soak overnight and then it is squeezed out through a cloth.

Svarasa is considered to be the heaviest to digest and most potent of the pancha kashaya. It is usually given twice daily in a quantity equal to 12-24 ml (half a pala), and is prepared only when it is needed. 

2.   Kalka: It is prepared by grinding the material (dravya) in mortar and pestle and adding just enough water to make a paste. Honey and/or ghee are often added to the preparation. Kalka is usually dosed at 12 g (one karsha), twice daily. It is pre-pared in the form of boluses, when it is needed. 

3.   Kvatha: It is a herbal decoction, prepared by boiling one part (by weight) of the coarsely powdered dravya in 16 parts water (by volume) in a covered earthenware pot, over a medium-low heat until it is reduced to one quarter of its original volume. Kvatha is normally dosed at 96 ml (two palas). 

4.   Hima: It is the cold infusion, prepared by allowing one part (by weight) of the coarsely ground dravya to infuse in eight parts (by volume) of water overnight. Hima is typically dosed at 96 mL (two palas), twice daily.

Prepared when needed.

Phanta: It is a warm infusion, prepared by infusing one part (by weight) of the coarsely ground powder of the dravya in four parts (by volume) of hot water for 8-10 minutes. The resultant preparation is then filtered out through a cloth or sieve. Phanta is typically dosed at 96 ml (two palas), twice daily.

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