If you are tying to lose weight or want to stay fit, your daily diet need not be tasteless or drab. You can spice up any bland food with herbs and spices because they’re actually good for you. Spices present in traditional Indian food are nutrient-rich and can help you shed the kilos. Here are tips from Mumbai-based experts Bhakti Samant, Chief Dietician, Nutrition Therapy Department, Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital, and Indrayani Pawar, team leader, dietician team, Hinduja Healthcare Surgical, on the herbs and spices you need to include in your diet to lose weight and stay fit.
Turmeric is well-known for its anti-inflammatory properties which help soothe inflammation caused in the body due to various toxins. Turmeric also helps regulate the metabolism – which plays an important role in determining the rate at which calories are burnt. Turmeric is a natural part of the Indian cuisine. A small amount can be mixed with any food item as it has a very subtle taste.
Turmeric helps regulate the metabolism – which plays an important role in determining the rate at which calories are burnt. (Shutterstock)
Cinammon has an effect on how the body processes sugar and stops sugar from being converted into fat. This spice also slows the passage of food from the stomach into the intestine – encouraging feelings of satiety. Some studies show that cinnamon is especially effective in targeting abdominal fat. A little cinnamon mixed with jeera and lemon juice makes for a refreshing summer drink.
Cayenne pepper (Laal mirch)
Capsaicin, a major active compound from chili peppers, has been clearly demonstrated for its numerous beneficial roles in health. Studies suggest that capsaicin could regulate genes function related with lipid metabolism. Laal mirch tastes best when added to gravies, or sprinkled over fruit or chaat items, or mixed with curd.
Clinical trials show beneficial changes in insulin sensitivity with cumin. Also the phytosterols present in cumin help in management of cholesterol. Jeera is present in almost all home-made Indian cooked vegetables. Powdered jeera can also be mixed with buttermilk or curd for enhanced taste on in chappatis.
Ginger helps promote weight loss by assisting digestion. A study conducted in November 2017 suggested that ginger could help control obesity by controlling appetite and limiting fat absorption in the intestine. Ginger juice can be added to various types of teas.
An Indian study shows that cardamom, like ginger, helps digestion. Cardamom also has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and stimulates metabolic action. Cardamom can be consumed in the form of tea or for the brave, chewed directly.
It has many antioxidants, which have anti-inflammatory effect. The antioxidants help counter hyperglycemia, thus managing blood sugar levels and aiding in weight loss. Rosemary can be used in whole wheat pasta, salads or soups.
Black pepper (Kali mirch)
Studies suggest that the pungent component in black pepper known as piperine fights fat by blocking the formation of new fat cells. Black pepper may offer a natural alternative for the treatment of fat-related disorders like obesity. Black pepper adds a wonderful twist to omelettes, salads, soups, hot beverages or tea. It is sometimes also used in buttermilk for added flavour.