Eating this food will not just benefit your diet but also the environment | Health - Hindustan Times

Eating this food will not just benefit your diet but also the environment

Hindustan Times, Delhi | BySarojini Jose
Mar 27, 2019 01:47 PM IST

Including these foods like lentils, okra, sweet potato, moringa and more in your diet will benefit not just your health but the planet, too

Earlier this year, a list of 50 chosen food items was put out, as a means to guide sustainable ways of living. In the report, Peter Gregory, research advisor, Crops For the Future, stated, “Diversified diets not only improve human health but benefit the environment through diversified production systems that encourage wildlife and more sustainable use of resources.”

Eating this food will not just benefit your diet but also the environment
Eating this food will not just benefit your diet but also the environment

These days, many are open to changing their eating pattern and lifestyle to save the environment from further degradation.

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Pooja Thacker, dietician, explains the benefits of the Indian food items that made it to this list.


The reddish brown colour of ragi has important phenols like gallic acid and ferulic acid, It also has anthocynins, flavonoids and is anti-tumourogenic. These factors help in reducing blood sugar levels. It is also one of the richest sources of calcium. Ragi is good for menopausal women as it helps in handling mood swings and osteoporosis issues. As it has a little bitter aftertaste, one can consume it as desserts. Ragi can also be added to batter of idli or chapati to make it soft.

Wild Rice

These grains are black in colour and rich in folate and magnesium, which help in improving bone health and boosting immunity. It is a heart-friendly grain due to its folate content. It also helps prevent birth defects. It has a chewy texture, and an earthy and nutty taste. It can be cooked and consumed like regular rice.


It is a good source of easily digestible protein. Moong is a rich source of glutamine, which helps to maintain gut immunity and to fight infections. It is also good for neuro functioning in infants. Its arginine helps in release of nitric oxide and causes vasodilation, which is a big factor in preventing heart diseases. Also, sprouting of moong helps in improving its vitamin C level. Combine rice and moong in the ratio of 7:3 to make a healthy and balanced meal.


It is similar to wheat but the husk is hard, which makes it rich in minerals such as zinc and B-complex vitamins including B3, B2, and B1. It has a nutty flavour and absorbs a lot of water. It can also be used in place of maida in pasta, biscuits, noodles, cakes and other bakery items. But beware, it is not a gluten-free grain.


It has sesamin and sesamolin, which are fibre-rich sources that help in reducing the cholesterol levels in the body. It is also rich in vitamin E, hence it is beneficial for skin and hair. It helps in maintaining their glow and protects them from external factors. Use it as cooking or tempering oil. You can also opt to drizzle it over salads in place of olive oil.


Its gummy texture shows that it is rich in soluble fibre. Okra or bhindi is also rich in antioxidants. Recent studies have shown that it helps in reducing sugar and lipids, and are therefore beneficial to diabetics. It has also worked in reducing sugar during gestational diabetes. In fact, okra supplements are now being manufactured to reduce insulin resistance and also to reduce oxidative stress. It also helps in fighting fatigue due to B-complex vitamins and potassium. The vitamin K in okra acts as a muscle relaxant, and helps in digestion. While it is common to make side dishes or curries using it, one can also experiment by making chutneys.

Sweet Potato

It is rich in phytochemicals and also rich in antioxidants and B-complex vitamins. It boosts our body with energy and improves brain functioning. It also increases immunity and is good for eyes and fertility.

Boiled sweet potatoes work as a base dish and can be paired well with non-vegetarian curries. You can also prepare cutlets out of sweet potatoes due to its texture.


Drumstick is one of the cheapest and richest protein sources in vegetables. And hence it is given during lactation. It is also a good source of vitamin C, vitamin A and zinc, and brings improvement in immunity. It optimises the gut-brain connection in the sense that it improves gut function by preventing constipation and raises mental alertness.

Have it in any curry, the traditional sambhar or consume its leaves as bhaji.

Other Lentils

They are being consumed for about 1,000 years. They are part of almost all world cuisines and come in various colours such as brown, yellow, and black. They are rich in protein, zinc, selenium, magnesium as well as phytochemicals that help in reducing lipid profile. Lentils also help with weight loss as it provides a feeling of satiety. Soaked lentils cook faster. Pressure cooker helps cook it in 20 minutes. It can be used as sprout salad, gravy, or lentil soups, It is easy to store as well.

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