6 Excellent Sources of Vegetarian Protein for Your Daily Diet

6 Excellent Sources of Vegetarian Protein for Your Daily Diet

I’m going to begin with a boring, but necessary, scientific survey that was published in the Indian Medical Gazette in April 2015. The study was conducted across seven Indian cities (Ahmedabad, Delhi, Chennai, Kolkata, Lucknow, Mumbai and Vijaywada) with 1,260 respondents, and took a look at protein consumption in our daily diet. The not-so-shocking conclusion was that almost 9 out of 10 consumers had a protein-deficient diet, regardless of gender or socio-economic status. Perhaps unsurprisingly, vegetarians had a higher protein deficit than non-vegetarians.

Why Do We Need Protein?

We all know that protein is the building block of the body and subsequently, amino acids are the building blocks of protein. Some can be produced by the body but some need to be consumed. That’s easy enough, except that there are a variety of amino acids that the body needs. A meat-eater would have no problem imbibing this variety as all meat already possesses a complete array of amino acids; a vegetarian, Jain or vegan, on the other hand, would need to absorb a rainbow of foods to get the full benefit. This is really not all that hard, considering that we already consume plenty of protein-rich, plant-based foods that are quite easily available.

Types of Plant-Based Protein

1. Soy

According to a paper named Protein – Which is Best? available at the U.S. National Institutes of Health’s National Library of Medicine, soy is a complete protein that has blood-pressure lowering and LDL-cholesterol oxidising benefits. Soy is not really part of a traditional Indian diet, but it was Gandhiji himself who became interested in the ingredient as a high-protein, low-cost food. In A History of Soy in the Indian Subcontinent, William Shurtleff and Akiko Aoyagi write that “starting in October 1935, Gandhi began serving whole soybeans (steamed for two hours) to all members of his community at Maganwadi; they were eaten with chapati or bhakri for breakfast, and with rice for dinner, seasoned with a little salt and oil.”

If Gandhiji’s soy preparations don’t float your boat, you can get your soy servings of the day through tofu, edamame, soy milk or atta. I love tofu myself, but for those with an aversion to it
s taste, try cooking it as a bhurji, with lots of lovely masala. Edamame beans are a superb, healthy snack when lightly steamed and tossed with salt. And soya atta can easily be popped into your regular chapati atta.

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2. Lentils and Pulses

Another excellent source of protein comes via lentils. The Harvard School of Public Health tells us that one cup of cooked lentils provides about 18g of protein and 15g of fibre, and it has virtually no saturated fat or sodium. We in India, are no strangers to lentils, considering the wealth of dals we consume.

Coming a close second are pulses, which include beans, chickpeas etc. They are an excellent source of fiber and are low in fat. Each bean has its own health-boosting elements. For instance, rajma is rich in phosphorus, necessary to form strong bones. What could be better than a simple, moreish rajma-chawal to boost your protein intake? Another one of my favourite ways to get beans in my belly is via matki usal and misal pao, made from wee matki (moth) beans. Chickpeas make the quick transition into hummus. Or you could try beans on toast, stuff them in a burrito or cook them into a Tex Mex-style chili.

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3. Nuts

Nuts get a bad rep because they are considered relatively fatty, but they are a powerhouse of unsaturated fat (the good kind) and protein. This means that they fill you up faster and for longer, leading you down the road to low BMI, higher life expectancy and even help to stabilise blood sugar (according to a study in The British Journal of Nutrition). Cashews, almonds, pistachios and peanuts harbour higher amounts of proteins than other nuts like hazelnuts, so buy a mixed bag, sprinkle over with masala and a light hand of salt, and enjoy at teatime. Blend them into nut butters and spread on bread, or toss them into your bowl of porridge or muesli. Or you could make a Gujarati-style dal that is cooked with peanuts – a two-in-one advantage.


4. Seeds

Seeds are powerhouses of protein as well. Sunflower seeds, for instance, contain 3.3g of protein per 100 calories. Plus, they’re super versatile to use. Like nuts, you could toss them into your porridge, cornflakes or muesli, toast lightly and sprinkle as toppings on soups, or pop into stir-fries and salad dressings. Sesame seeds, high sources of protein, make excellent supplements to plant proteins. My own favourite way to consume these is in crisp til chikkis or ladoos.

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5. Quinoa

Quinoa, which is technically a seed, also packs a strong protein-punch; a quarter cup (uncooked) has up to 8g of protein. Quinoa often makes a great substitute for starchy rice and pasta, and you can cook it like an upma, use it in a salad and even toss some vegetables and cook it like a light, healthy pulao.

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6. Ancient Grains

Grains, like oats, wheat, ragi and bajra (millets), are packed with protein. Your breakfast oatmeal and bajre ki roti/ khichdi are excellent ways to up the protein in your diet. I’m including rajgira (amaranth) in here, which isn’t a grain technically, but is often treated as one. The Whole Grains Council says that “at about 13-14%, it easily trumps the protein content of most other grains. You may hear the protein in amaranth referred to as ‘complete’ because it contains lysine, an amino acid missing or negligible in many grains.” It’s fairly easy to buy rajgira ladoos, cooked with sugar or jaggery, especially in the winter. But it’s healthier to add amaranth flour to your daily chapati or paratha atta. In fact, making your chapatis from a blend of attas will substantially raise their nutritional value.
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8 Amazing Benefits of Dandelion Tea for Your Health

8 Amazing Benefits of Dandelion Tea for Your Health

When you think of dandelion, you probably picture a pesky weed. But did you know that the plant has long been used in herbal medicine? You can drink an infusion made of the plant’s leaves or of roasted dandelion roots. Shalini Manglani, Nutritionist and Wellness Consultant, Bangalore, says, “The roots and leaves of dandelion are dried and used to make dandelion tea, and can benefit your health myriad ways.” Dr. Gargi Sharma, a Delhi-based Nutritionist, says, “Dandelion tea is rich in vitamin A, C and D. It contains high amounts of zinc, iron and magnesium.”

Here are 8 health benefits of dandelion tea:

1. Good for Digestion

“Dandelion tea can have many positive effects on your digestive system. It improves appetite and soothes digestive ailments,” says Dr. Ritika Samaddar, Head of Dietetics at the Max Super Speciality Hospital. “According to various studies, dandelions aid our digestive system by maintaining the proper flow of bile. Dandelion tea helps with mineral absorption and soothes the stomach lining,” says Dr. Manoj K. Ahuja, Fortis Hospitals.

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2. Detoxifies the Liver

The role of our liver is to produce bile (which helps enzymes in the body break down fats into fatty acids) and also to filter and detoxify our blood. “The vitamins and nutrients present in dandelions help in cleansing and maintaining the proper functioning of our liver,” says Dr. Ritika Samaddar.

3. Acts as a Diuretic

“Dandelion tea has a natural diuretic effect as it helps in removing excessive fluid from the body and thus relieves bloating. It allows your liver to eliminate toxins,” says Dr. Ritika.
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4. Reduces Water Weight

“According to a 2009 study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, participants showed a significant increase in frequency of urination after the first two doses of Dandelion tea. Water weight, and subsequent bloating went down,” says Dr. Manglani.
5. Powerhouse of Antioxidants

“Dandelion tea is packed with antioxidants. Antioxidants are substances that help in preventing certain types of cell damage. The body uses antioxidants to fight free radical damage, which is very dangerous for the body’s tissues and is connected to cancer and premature aging. Luckily, drinking dandelion tea helps the body avoid cell damage from free radicals,” says Dr. Ahuja.

6. Fights Diabetes

“Various studies have shown that dandelion tea lowers levels of blood sugar and can in turn treat diabetes. It removes excess sugar that is stored in the body due to its diuretic properties and helps in stimulating the production of insulin from the pancreas. It is a great way to fight diabetes naturally,” adds Dr. Manglani.


7. Treats Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)

Dr. Gargi Sharma says, “Dandelion tea can help prevent urinary tract infections, as well as bladder disorders, kidney problems and possibly even cysts on reproductive organs. A specific combination of dandelion root and leaf extracts of another herb called Uva Ursi (that can be taken orally) helps treat UTIs in women. In this combination, Uva Ursi is used to kill bacteria, and dandelion tea is used because of its ability to stimulate urine production and fight infection.”

8. Fights Cancer

According to Dr. Sharma, dandelion tea contains anti-cancerous properties. A study conducted in 2011 by the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of Windsor in Canada found that dandelion root tea was effective in killing different types of cancer as a result of its free radical-fighting abilities.


Note: “Before you begin to use dandelion tea medicinally, you may want to discuss it with your doctor – especially if you’re pregnant or have an irritable bowel,” warns Dr. Manglani.




Don’t Text or Talk While Exercising, Leave Your Phone at Home

Don't Text or Talk While Exercising, Leave Your Phone at Home

Leave your phone at home, or at least turn it off, if you want to benefit from your workout. According to a new study, talking or texting on a smartphone while exercising and working up a sweat reduces the intensity of a workout and in fact affects your balance.

Michael Rebold, Assistant Professor at Hiram College in the US found that texting and talking can have a negative effect on one’s balance during everyday activities. This is the first known study to examine the effects of cell phone use on postural stability.

“If you are talking or texting on your cell phone while you are putting in your daily steps, your attention is divided by the two tasks and that can disrupt your postural stability, and therefore, possibly predispose individuals to other greater inherent risks such as falls and musculoskeletal injuries,” said Michael Rebold.
The study, which examined 45 college students, showed that cell phone texting while exercising significantly impacts postural stability – by 45 per cent – in comparison to no cell phone use. The investigation also showed that talking on a cell phone while exercising reduces postural stability by 19 per cent. Listening to music on a cell phone, on the other hand, has no notable impact on postural stability during exercise, the study showed.

The study appears in the journal Computers in Human Behaviour.



Sunbeds May Increase Risk of Deadly Skin Cancer

Sunbeds May Increase Risk of Deadly Skin Cancer

You may want to skip that sunbed after swimming, according to a new study. Sunbeds which are used in indoor tanning emit harmful UV radiation to produce a cosmetic tan. They are typically found in tanning salons, spas, gyms and sporting facilities.

Using sunbeds may put people at a higher risk of melanoma – the most dangerous type of skin cancer. In the last decade, melanoma has the strongest increase in incidence and the incidence rates have in fact never been as high as in 2014.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) based International Agency for Research on Cancer has classified UV-emitting tanning devices as “carcinogenic to humans” in 2009. However, sunbed use is still popular among young women in Western countries.

The study conducted by University of Oslo followed 141,000 Norwegian women for the average of 14 years. Women who had 30 or more indoor tanning sessions were at 32 per cent increased risk of melanoma in comparison to never-users. In addition, women who started indoor tanning before age 30 were on average two years younger at melanoma diagnosis than never-users.
These associations remained significant after controlling for age, birth-cohort, ambient ultra-violet (UV) radiation of residence, hair colour, skin colour and cumulative number of sunburns and sunbathing vacations. Modern sunbeds emit six times more UVA and twice as much UVB as the Oslo summer sun, researchers said.

​The findings of this study have important implications for public health, as it shows that sunbed use increases the burden of melanoma in societies by both increasing the number of patients and decreasing the age at diagnosis.



Yoga for Hair Growth: 6 Effective Poses for Healthy and Strong Hair

Yoga for Hair Growth: 6 Effective Poses for Healthy and Strong Hair

Our urban lifestyle is never stress free. There’s just so much happening all the time and we are constantly running around to make ends meet. We already know that it is taking a toll on our body yet we neglect to take care of ourselves. The truth is that stress is the root cause of many problems in our body. Various research studies have pointed out that stress could lead to high blood pressure, heart disease, mental problem and as well as beauty trouble. Take hair fall for instance. Stress is the major culprit behind it besides improper diet, usage of chemical products, strong UV rays, genetic disorders, smoking, hormonal imbalance, among others.

Hair fall is a problem which is faced by both men and women. ‘How to get rid of hair fall’ is among the most searched topics on the internet today. But instead of stressing more over it, the need of the hour is to fight it. Hair fall can be minimised by regular hair massages as well, which increases the blood circulation to the scalp, strengthens the roots and nourishes the hair.

There are many products also available in the market with can help fight hair fall, but why to spend a penny for the problem which can best solved naturally through yoga? Yoga helps in maintaining the harmony between our body and soul. It also improves blood circulation throughout the body and promotes healthy hair, thus preventing hair fall.

1. Anuloma Viloma

Sit with your eyes closed in the Padmasana pose and rest your hands on your knees. With your right thumb, close your right nostril and inhale as much oxygen as you can through the left nostril. Remove your thumb from the right nostril and exhale. Use your middle finger to close your left nostril while you exhale and then inhale with your right nostril and exhale. Do this with focus and concentration for about 5 minutes. “Anuloma Viloma helps in improving the working of the lungs and to cure depression and tension which is the ultimate cause of hair fall,” says Mr. Ajit Tapasvi, Yoga Instructor at Youngistaan.
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2. Kapalbhati Pranayam

Sit with your spine straight, eyes closed in Padmasana. Now inhale deeply with both the nostrils and fill your lungs with air completely. Now exhale through both the nostrils forcefully such that you feel the pressure in your stomach. Repeat this for 5 minutes. It adds luster and beauty to the face, reduces stress from the eyes and helps in curing dark circles. It also combats the problem of blood circulation in the whole body and helps in hair growth.

For more details on how to do the asana, click here – Kapalbhati

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3. Surya Namaskar

“Surya Namaskar is the pack of all the asanas and the whole set of Surya Namaskar is composed of 12 yoga poses, says Yoga Instructor Abhishek of Mystic Yoga Café. “It is a great cardiovascular workout which helps to reduce weight around the stomach. It also helps in improving blood circulation in the whole body. Because of the active process of inhalation and exhalation, the lungs get ventilated and the blood remains oxygenated.”

Here’s how to do Surya Namaskar – Step by Step Guide

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4. Sirsasana

Popularly known as the Headstand, it is tough to master this pose but once you do, it can help you in many ways. Sit with your knees on the floor and hips resting on the heels. Bend forward and keep your forearm on the floor, interlock the fingers of both hands. Press the back of the head against the inside of the interlocked fingers and place the top of the head on the floor. Raise the knees of the floor while firmly placing the toes on the floor and lifting the heels. Inhale and hold the position for as long as you can and slowly exhale and get back to the original position. It not only has physical benefits but many mental benefits as well.

It helps in increasing the focus, relieves stress and increases the blood flow to the head and the scalp resulting in hair growth and preventing them to fall.

For more details, click here – Headstand, the King of All Poses

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5. Utthanasana

Stand straight with your feet together. Take a deep breath and extend your arms high up as you slowly exhale, bend forward and try to touch the floor or toe with your palms. Stay in the same position and count till five and breathe normally. Slowly straighten while inhaling deeply. If you are not able to do so, then you can fold your hands, buckle each elbow with the opposite hand. This asana helps in distressing and alleviates all the anxiety and tension, which are the causes of hair fall. It also allows blood to circulate properly to the scalp which helps in hair growth.

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6. Balayam Yoga

Balayam yoga is very simple and affective, which was popularised by Baba Ramdev. This asana can be performed anytime and anywhere. You just have to curl your fingers inward and rub the nails vigorously. Rubbing the nails continuously for 5 to 7 minutes can help with hair growth. It can also help in curing dandruff and prevents premature greying of hair.

Along with yoga, it is very important to add a healthy, balanced diet in your daily routine. Eat plenty of green leafy vegetables, fresh fruits, sprouts, cereals, pulses and dairy products which will provide the much needed nourishment to the hair and prevent them from falling. Add strength to your hair so that you can flaunt them with pride.



Exercise May Boost Memory, Brain Activity in Elderly

Exercise May Boost Memory, Brain Activity in Elderly

To increase brain function and boost memory in older adults, it is important to maintain high levels of fitness through physical activity such as walking, jogging, swimming, or dancing. Brain function and memory are the hallmark impairments in Alzheimer’s disease.

According to this study, the age-related changes in memory performance and brain activity largely depend on an individual’s fitness level. Older adults who exercised showed good cardiac fitness levels which improved their memory performance and increased brain activity patterns compared to their low fit peers.

“Therefore, starting an exercise programme, regardless of one’s age, can not only contribute to the more obvious physical health factors, but may also contribute to memory performance and brain function,” said Scott Hayes, Assistant Professor at Boston University in the US.

For the study, the team included healthy young (18-31 years) and older adults (55-74 years) who walked and jogged on a treadmill while researchers assessed their cardiorespiratory fitness. Older adults who scored high on cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF) tests performed better on memory tasks than those who had low CRF. CRF is a modifiable health factor that can be improved through regular engagement in moderate to vigorous sustained physical activities such as walking, jogging, swimming, or dancing — is not only important for physical health, but is also associated with brain function and memory performance, the researchers said.

Further, the researchers found that older adults, had more difficulty in learning and remembering names that were associated with pictures of unfamiliar faces. These older adults showed decreased brain activation in some regions and increased brain activation in others. In addition, this increased brain activity was particularly found in brain regions that show typical age-related decline, suggesting fitness may contribute to brain maintenance.

The results appear in the journal Cortex.



Exercise and Healthy Diet May Reduce Effects of Malaria

Exercise and Healthy Diet May Reduce Effects of Malaria

Exercising regularly and leading a healthy lifestyle can reduce the damage to the heart and skeletal muscles brought on by malaria. According to a new study, a healthy diet including fresh fruits and vegetables, and a right amount of protein is very important.

Malaria afflicts more than 500 million people each year in scores of countries all over the world, killing more than 400,000 according to the World Health Organisation. Marco Brotto, Professor at The University of Texas – Arlington said that moderate or high levels of malaria infection typically affect skeletal muscles and the heart.

“Residual effects could be from the heart being weaker for some time to permanently suffering some damage,” Brotto said, adding that a similar effect takes place on the muscles. Even those with mild cases of malaria report a lot of muscle soreness and fatigue. But, healthy diets and regular exercise can act as a counter against the disease within a short duration.
Interventions such as anti-oxidant therapy through diet and medication can boost the functions of the heart and muscles. Also, “there are interventions you could take prior to or in anticipation of an infection in order to improve the muscular and heart function,” Brotto observed. Apart from exercise, eating more fresh fruits, vegetables and fiber as well as high protein diet such as meat, poultry, fish, legumes can help combat the infection, the researchers suggested.



Depression May be as Risky as Obesity and Cholesterol for Your Heart

Depression May be as Risky as Obesity and Cholesterol for Your Heart

350 million people are affected by depression worldwide, according to the World Health Organisation. A new study found recently that depression may be as risky as obesity and cholesterol for your heart. “Our study shows that the risk of a fatal cardiovascular disease due to depression is almost as great as that due to elevated cholesterol levels or obesity,” said Karl-Heinz Ladwig, professor at Technical University of Munich (TUM) in Germany.

Depression accounted for nearly 15 per cent of the cardiovascular deaths. “That is comparable to the other risk factors, such as hypercholesterolemia, obesity and smoking,” Ladwig said, noting that these factors cause 8.4 to 21.4 per cent of the cardiovascular deaths.

The team included 3,428 male patients between the ages of 45 and 74 years in the study, and observed their development over a period of 10 years. The researchers analysed the relationship between depression and other risk factors including tobacco smoke, high levels of cholesterol, obesity or hypertension and how big a role does each factor play? The results show that only high blood pressure and smoking are associated with a greater risk.
The study was recently published in the journal Atherosclerosis.



6 Incredible Benefits of Asparagus, the Nutrient Powerhouse

6 Incredible Benefits of Asparagus, the Nutrient Powerhouse

A popular ingredient in gourmet dishes across the world, asparagus scores high for its delicate flavour and appealing form. When in season, it comes packed with health boosting goodness that adding it to your daily diet can help you in numerous ways. Asparagus or garden asparagus, scientifically called Asparagus officinalis, is a member of the Lily family. It is very labour intensive to grow, and perhaps is the reason why it comes with a high price tag.

Garden asparagus was first cultivated in Greece about 2500 years ago and was believed to be a herbal medicine, used for curing toothache and preventing bee stings. It grows underneath the soil and as soon as the tips emerge, it is cut. It is acknowledged to be a good source of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Iron, Potassium and Calcium, among other nutrients.

There are three types of asparagus:

French Asparagus: The French Asparagus is purple in colour but is similar in appearance and taste to the other two types. It is genetically less fibrous thus more supple as compared to the other two types.

British and American Asparagus: The British and American Asparagus is green in colour, considered as the best of all the other types and is available from May to June. It is a bit grassy in taste.

Spanish and Dutch Asparagus: The Spanish and Dutch Asparagus is the pale sibling of green asparagus being white in colour. It has a subtler flavour than the green Asparagus – sweeter in taste with a hint of bitterness.


The top producers of Asparagus in the world are California, Washington and Michigan. A perfect asparagus can be defined as rigid, with bee lined shoots, curled and a perky tip.

Benefits of Asparagus

1. Helps Fight Against Diabetes

Type 2 Diabetes is a major disease affecting the world population today. According to a study published in The British Journal of Nutrition, “Asparagus, a popular vegetable, can keep diabetes at bay by helping blood sugar levels stay under control while boosting output of insulin, the hormone that helps the body absorb glucose.”

“Asparagus has proved to be an effective weapon to help fight against diabetes. The intake of asparagus leads to high urine and salt excretion from the body which help in regulating the blood sugar level,” says Dr. Lochan Arora, Physiotherapist and Nutritionist at Veda Physiotherapy and Nutrition Clinic.

Another article published in The British Medical Journal in 2006 showed asparagus triggered an 81 percent increase in glucose uptake by the body’s muscles and tissues.

2. Great Source of Antioxidants

Asparagus contains high level of antioxidants which help in fighting against free radicals in the body, which have been found to be the risk factors for diseases like cancer, heart trouble, etc. According to Ms. Nidhi Sawhney, Dietitian at Nutri Advice, “Asparagus is a very good source of fiber, folate, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin K and minerals that enhance the ability of insulin to transport glucose from the bloodstream into the cells.”

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3. Increases Immunity

Incorporating asparagus in the diet helps in fighting bacterial infections, urine infection and cold which makes the immune system strong. Asparagus is a great source of B-complex vitamins which are essential for energy production and to maintain the nervous system.


4. Could Help Fight Risk of Cancer

“Asparagus contains Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin B6 and other powerful antioxidants which are very beneficial to maintain healthy cells and fight risks of cancer,” says Dr. Arora. Asparagus also regulates homocysteine levels in our blood – a strong risk factor for heart disease.


5. Slows the Aging Process

“Asparagus is a vegetable known for its antioxidant content, which has the ability to slow down the aging process,” says Ms. Nidhi.

6. Acts as a Natural Diuretic

“Asparagin, an amino acid, acts as natural diuretics. Asparagin is present in asparagus in high levels which helps the body in releasing the extra salt from the body through urination,” adds Ms. Nidhi. Asparagus provides a useful amount of vitamin K, essential for strong bones and to main blood pressure.


How to Add Asparagus to Your Diet

The best way to consume asparagus is to roast, grill or stir fry it. Quick cooking works well to preserve the nutritional content and the antioxidants present in it. You can also add it to your soups and curries.




20-Minute Exercise is All You Need to Reduce Inflammation

20-Minute Exercise is All You Need to Reduce Inflammation

If you take out 20 minutes daily for moderate exercise, it will boost your immunity and reduce inflammation in your body, according to a new study conducted by the University of California in San Diego. It will make you less prone to diseases like arthritis and fibromyalgia. Scientists found that one session of moderate exercise will act as an anti-inflammatory. Suzi Hong from University of California said, “Our study found one session of about 20 minutes of moderate treadmill exercise resulted in a five per cent decrease in the number of stimulated immune cells producing TNF.

Scientists noted that while exercising, the brain and sympathetic nervous system are activated, enabling the body to carry out work while the hormones that are released into the blood stream trigger adrenergic receptors, which immune cells possess. According to the researchers, exercises do not have to be intense to have anti-inflammatory effects, but a moderate session would suffice.
“Patients with chronic inflammatory diseases should always consult with their physician regarding the appropriate treatment plan, but knowing that exercise can act as an anti-inflammatory is an exciting step forward in possibilities,” Suzi noted in a study published in Brain, Behaviour and Immunity.