Here are the cold, hard health facts about the health of the Indian population, according to research data collected by health organisation Arogya World:
– Lifestyle changes have lead to decreased physical activity, increased consumption of fat, sugar and calories, and higher stress levels, affecting insulin sensitivity and obesity.
– More than 20% of the population in India has at least one chronic disease and more than 10% of the people have more than one.
– As of 2011, approximately 61.3 million people aged 20-79 years live with diabetes in India and the expected number by 2030 is 101.2 million.
I came across these statistics in the course of my research and I realised that the marketplace needs a better array of healthy foods. How are local consumers supposed to make smarter food choices if there aren’t products available? To my surprise, though, I did find some relatively healthy options to replace saturated fats, sugary bars and maida pasta at the recent Nutra India Summit. Here’s my take.
1. Jivo Canola Oil
Traditional Indian foods are made with whole milk, butter and oil. While they may not be eaten on a daily basis, they are still loaded in saturated fats. Jivo Canola Oil contains Omega-3 and Omega-6 Fatty Acids — both of which are considered healthy fats. Over time, the consumption of canola oil has demonstrated a decrease in LDL (everything in moderation).
2. RiteBite Bars
My experience with bars in general is not great. In the US, I’ve found the variety of bars sold contain an excessive amount of *unknown* ingredients, possibly GMO, as well as added and unnecessary sugars. However, RiteBite Bars, available to Indians, come in three varieties including Eazy Slim, Eazy Immune and Eazy Stress. The bars are considered low glycemic, gluten free, and non-GMO. The bars contain approximately 200 calories, 6 grams of fat and anywhere between 7-11g of fibre.
3. NutraHelix Pasta
Aside from the love pasta receives from Italy, it pretty much has a bad reputation. I think that’s primarily due to the portions in which it is consumed. In India, NutraHelix pasta recently launched with two different varieties. If you decide to consume pasta, my general recommendation is to eat heavier meals throughout the day and smaller meals post 6pm. Back to this brand, the multigrain pasta includes amaranth, barley, and millet. All these grains contain a lower glycemic index and are advisable for consumption for those with diabetes. The veggie pasta, on the other hand, is a blend of beetroot, carrot, green pea and spinach. The carbohydrates are considered to be healthier and the pasta is a good source of fibre.
On one hand, I was disappointed that I didn’t encounter additional products but I was pleased to see that certain “forbidden” treats are assuming a healthier form. If you’ve tried any of these, do let us know your thoughts.
[This article was previously posted in Huffington post on April 24, 2015]