National Nutrition Month is an
educational campaign of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, which is
observed during the month of March. The goal of the National Nutrition Month is
to raise awareness of the importance of making informed eating choices. This
year, the theme of the campaign is "Savor the Flavor of Eating
Right." The theme encourages people to think about nourishing their bodies
with food that is both healthy and tasty.
A healthy diet
should include a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole-grains, low-fat dairy
products and lean proteins. Good food choices coupled with the habit of eating right
offers immense health benefits
such as maintaining healthy body weight
and other bodily
parameters. When an individual implies creativity with open-mindedness, it is easier
to enjoy eating the right food. With some level of awareness about healthy
eating, most people follow a balanced diet, but, they compromise on the taste.
The good news is that some of the ingredients that make food tasty are rich in
vital nutrients and the right choice for good health
‘Innovative use of herbs and spices in cooking enhances the flavor of food and also help reduce sodium, sugar and fat content.’
important as it nourishes the body and provides energy to survive and fight
diseases. In today's busy world, people do not spend the time to relish and
enjoy the food they eat. Developing a pattern of mindful eating
is important to eat right and savor
the flavor of food. There are a variety of ingredients that can be used for
cooking to increase flavor as well as nutritive value. Including such
ingredients in the diet helps prevent the excessive intake of sodium and
How To Add
Flavor To Healthy Food?
Herbs and spices
are the two incredible cooking ingredients that add
flavor to food. Herbs and spices such as thyme, rosemary, mint, basil, oregano,
paprika, cinnamon, nutmeg, garlic powder, chili powder offer a flavor
advantage. Storing dried herbs and spices in airtight
containers helps retain the flavors.
Herbs such as
mint, basil, parsley, thyme, rosemary are used in cooking to enhance the flavor
of the dish. Herbs not only increase flavor but also contribute to good health
with its therapeutic benefits. Aromatic herbs such as mint, basil, and parsley
detoxify the body by removing the toxic substances.
- Basil: It is a
sweet tasting herb, which is widely used in Italian cuisine. Basil is a good
source of magnesium, which promotes heart health by relaxing cardiac muscles
and blood vessels. The antioxidant-rich herb helps scavenge free radicals and
prevents the harmful effects of aging. Basil is the
primary ingredient in pesto sauce and can be used in salads to enhance flavor.
It not only enhances the flavor of the dish but also the presentation. A
flavonoid compound found in parsley has been shown to have chemo-preventive
effects on skin cancer. Parsley helps lower high blood sugar level and also reduces
urinary excretion of calcium. Fresh chopped parsley enhances the taste of
poultry dishes, seafood and salads.
- Mint: It is an
antioxidant-rich herb, which is often related to freshness. Mint soothes the
stomach in cases of indigestion and inflammation. It is recommended for
patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Mint can be used to flavor
dishes such as soups, vegetable salads and lamb preparations.
Spices are the
root, bark, fruit or seed of a plant or tree primarily used for flavoring food.
They have antimicrobial proprieties and fight infectious diseases. Cinnamon,
cardamom, black pepper, mace, nutmeg, paprika, cloves, cumin seeds, fennel
seeds, cayenne pepper are the widely used spices.
- Cinnamon: It is a
spice obtained from the bark of the trees. The antioxidants in cinnamon help
lower the risk of heart diseases by lowering
cholesterol levels. It is also beneficial for a diabetic as it reduces high blood sugar level. Cinnamon is
considered as a sweet spice as it is mostly used to make desserts and pastries.
- Cumin: Cumin seeds are rich in iron and help in the
synthesis of hemoglobin. Traditionally, cumin seeds were used to aid in proper
digestion. The anti-carcinogenic properties of cumin seeds were found to
inhibit the growth of stomach and liver tumors. Cumin enhances the taste of
vegetable and lentil dishes. Seasoning sauteed vegetables with cumin seeds enhances the taste and flavor of the dish.
- Nutmeg: It is a widely used
spice to enhance the flavor of dishes. Nutmeg is an excellent source of
potassium, manganese, iron and zinc. Potassium plays a vital role in
controlling heart rate and blood pressure. It is also rich in B vitamins (folic
acid, riboflavin, niacin) and antioxidants that are essential for optimum
- Cayenne Pepper: It may help in weight loss
by increasing metabolism and reducing appetite. It is used to make spicy dishes
and used as the main ingredient for hot sauces. Sprinkling cayenne pepper over
cheese enhances flavor.
A diet rich in
vegetables provides vital vitamins and minerals that benefit overall health and
also reduce the risk of chronic diseases. Vegetables such as onions, garlic,
broccoli, green leafy vegetables, carrots, beets and radish, provide nutrients
such as vitamin A, B, C, E, potassium, and fiber.
- Onions and Garlic:
The sulphur compounds in garlic and onion help lower blood pressure and protect
heart health. It reduces the risk of blood clots, which can lead to heart
attack. Onion and garlic are widely used in meat dishes as they enhance flavor.
Onions are added to stir fry dishes and also to flavor soups, salads, and dips.
Add chopped garlic to the dishes to increase its nutritional value.
Fruits such as
lemon and oranges are used in cooking to add brightness to recipes. Citrus
juice or zest from the peel of the fruit adds tangy and sour flavors to the
dishes. They are also used to balance recipe's ingredients. The flavor of
seafood is enhanced with citrus fruits. Consumption of seafood is recommended
at least twice a week. Salmon and tuna are known to benefit heart, brain and
bone health. The acidity of citrus juice not only enhances flavor and
brightness but also the nutritional value of the food. Vitamin C content of the
food is increased when juices of lemon or orange are used in the recipe.
Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) helps increase the absorption of iron from plant
Making good food
choices is the first step to healthy living. Limiting
the use of processed
will contribute to reducing the intake of sugar, sodium and
saturated fats. Choose beverages with no added sugar and preservatives.
Consumption of processed foods is one of the main reasons for obesity,
diabetes, and heart diseases. Read food labels and avoid purchasing of foods
high in sugar in the form of corn syrup, high fructose, molasses, invert sugar
and maple syrup. Home cooked foods would be the best choice as they are fresh
and free from preservatives. Cooking at home helps reduce the intake of
saturated fats, sugar, and sodium. Replace saturated fats
with unsaturated fats found in fatty fish,
nuts and seeds.