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Food mines

Body’s mineral requirements often go unheeded, resulting in ill-health. Here’s what you should eat.

health and fitness Updated: Feb 08, 2010 00:59 IST

It is becoming increasingly clear that food influence a wide range of health problems. While there are no ‘magic’ solutions for a majority of ailments like arthritis, diabetes, heart disease, your choice of food is closely linked to your health because it has preventive properties.

Good health is linked to diet and lifestyle management. If you want to enjoy a healthy life, then start getting your minerals by eating the right kind of food, in the right quantity.

Calcium is linked to growth and development of strong bones. And the need for this mineral increases after the age of 40 for both sexes, else the body faces a rapid decline in bone density. If we don’t keep the supply of calcium constant through our diet, our body leaches it out of the bones to keep the blood levels of calcium high.

As per the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA), men and women require 800 mg, while pregnant and lactating women require 1200 mg of calcium.

So how do you get your daily dose (approx 400-600 mg) of calcium?
A glass of low fat milk and a cup of low fat curd.
A cup of cooked spinach and 100 g of low fat cottage cheese.
Five dried figs and a glass of carrot juice (six carrots).
Four ragi chapatis.
100 g of fresh coconut.

Nearly 70 per cent of the body’s magnesium supply is located in the bones, and this mineral helps maintain normal muscle and nerve function. It also keeps the heart rhythm steady and supports a healthy immune system. Apart from that, magnesium also helps prevent and manage hypertension, diabetes and heart disease.

However, not many people are aware that their bodies lack magnesium. Gastrointestinal disorders, compromised kidney function, intake of drugs for managing diabetes and a diet low in magnesium rich foods cause magnesium deficiency. A healthy adult requires 400 mg of magnesium daily.

Here’s how to get daily dose of (approx 400 mg) of magnesium:
20 blanched almonds and cashew nuts
2 jowar chapatis and 1 bowl of cooked kabuli channa
4 ragi chapatis and 1 bowl cooked spinach
1 glass mint and coriander juice, and 1 mango

Fat attack
Enough has been said already about the flipside of eating a fat-rich diet. From heart disease to diabetes and obesity, the dangers are many. So apart from cutting down on visible fats like cooking oils, butter etc, there are three main invisible sources of fats — meats, dairy and oils from tree nuts that you should watch out for if you are trying to keep your fat intake in check.

Invisible fats can make losing weight difficult for those trying to maintain a limited fat diet.
Invisible sources of fat
Whole milk
Egg yolks
Nuts - peanuts, walnuts, cashewnuts

Dr Anjali Mukerjee is a nutritionist and the founder of Health Total, a nutrition counselling centre.