We all know the tale- “Someone’s blood sugar levels are too high and the first thing doctors and dieticians ask is to cut out all white rice and refined wheat from their meals”. Now, with rice and wheat being the staple of all our meals, it begs the question: What can one eat then?
Surprisingly though, it turns out that rice and wheat have not always been our staples. Prior to the 1960’s, millets made up 40 percent of India’s cultivated grains, and several local varieties of rice, wheat was cultivated as well.
These were ‘whole grains’ which means they contained the entire grain kernel which consists the bran, germ, and endosperm. White rice and maida, on the other hand are refined grains- milled to remove the bran and germ, meant to increase the shelf life of the grain but also stripping it off of its fibre and nutrients.
During the Green Revolution, the government promoted cultivation of standard refined varieties of rice and wheat to help stabilise India’s food security scenario. However, it led to a drop in whole grain production. Standard white rice and refined wheat came to be seen as ‘modern’ cereals and replaced the varieties of grains on our plates. But, with it came a rapid increase in lifestyle diseases. Diabetes has become India’s fastest growing disease and India today has the largest number of diabetics as well as heart-disease patients in the world.
This makes us wonder: is what we are eating really good for us? And are there healthier alternatives that we could switch to?
Presenting the #foodswap:
An easy way to cut out refined grains from our meals is to #foodswap them with healthier whole grain alternatives. Below are has a few ideas to help you get kickstarted:
|Swap…||with…||because they are…|
|White rice||Black rice, Rajmudi rice||rich in antioxidants, dietary fibre, vitamins and minerals|
|Rava (Semolina) in upma||Red rice rava|
|White Rice, Sooji in payasam/kheer||Barnyard millet, foxtail millet||great sources of protein, dietary fibre, B-vitamins, manganese|
|White rice in dosa/idli batter||any type of millet|
|Maida, Wheat from chapatis/rotis||Emmer wheat (Jave godhi)||lower in gluten and higher in nutrients|
Why #foodswap? Are refined grains all that bad?
Refined grains are stripped of dietary fibre, B-vitamins, trace minerals and iron, essential for normal bodily functions. So, they become ‘empty calories’, quickly absorbed by the body, spiking blood sugar and insulin levels, which when consumed regularly leads to lifestyle diseases.
This is why more and more nutritionists today emphasize the importance of reverting back to indigenous diets as a means to combat modern illnesses. Whole grains are packed with nutrients, and are broken down slowly by the body, not increasing blood sugar levels dramatically. These grains are what our ancestors have been eating for centuries and suit our body the best.
Not just our bodies, whole grains are also better for the planet.
Consuming whole grains helps conserve and promote ancient seed varieties, maintaining crop diversity.
Millets, a sub-group of whole grains known for their resilience and productivity require only 5 percent of the water needed to cultivate the same amount of white rice. More suited to local conditions, they are less vulnerable to harsh changes in weather or rainfall.
Currently, forty percent of agriculture produce goes bad before it can reach the consumer and ends up wasted. Most millets can be stored for years together without getting spoilt and can be the key to reduce produce wastage.
Therefore, we see how #foodswap-ping can make us healthier and also help the planet without having to sacrifice eating our favourite meals.
GoNative Unpackaged offers a wide variety of millets and whole grains including Barnyard millet, Rajamudi rice, Emmer wheat and more. Drop into our store with your containers, or use the cloth bags we offer, to try out a millet #foodswap today.