Do you find you can’t drop weight no matter what you drop from your diet?
Are you sick of flavorless, unsatisfying “healthy” food?
Maybe it’s time to shake up your routine. People have been praising the health benefits of Indian food for quite some time, from studies pointing out the low relative incidence of certain health issues in India to those covering the value of Indian spices as potentially holding anti-inflammatory capabilities, which could connect positively to a variety of different health benefits.1
Here are some staples of the Indian diet you may want to incorporate into your diet right away.
Breaking Down the Indian Diet
The Indian diet is seen as generally healthy for two main reasons. First, it includes lots of spices shown to be good for your body:
And it includes a lot more vegetables and fruits than the typical Western diet, where protein is too often the star.
Vegetarian diets are very popular in India. Studies have shown that a well-balanced Indian vegetarian diet can meet almost all your nutritional needs, with less fat and fewer calories. And vegetarian diets have been shown to provide many long-term health benefits, from improved heart function to reduced risk of certain cancers.3,4
Of course, there are some things to keep in mind if you’re looking to go Indian in hopes of losing weight. Some Indian foods — including certain curries — use a lot of ghee (clarified butter) or cream, which should be avoided if you are looking to lose weight.
In addition, some popular Indian foods, like samosas or naan bread, should be eaten in moderation. Ideally, you should follow a plant-based diet as much as possible with Indian food.
Another note: You might want to include foods like fish, to ensure you get a healthy dose of omega fatty acids. Along with a wide variety of health benefits, studies have shown they may help reduce abdominal fat, when combined with other lifestyle changes.5
Six Weight-Loss Staples of Indian Food
It may pay to incorporate a few Indian staples into your meals. Some of these have been proven to support weight loss — not only directly, but also indirectly, by helping you feel full and filling common nutritional gaps.
Let’s take a look at some of the standouts:
Now, dal can mean a couple of things: It can be dried split pulses (like lentils, chickpeas, and beans), or it can refer to a variety of soups and dishes made using these pulses, generally with many popular curry spices.6
Part of the reason dal is so important for weight loss is protein content. Although they aren’t as rich in protein as eggs, chicken, or fish, legumes are a prime protein source for vegetarians. They also combine several important minerals, like magnesium and potassium.7
One study has shown dietary pulses could have an overall positive effect on weight loss, meaning you may want to start adding these legumes to your meal as soon as you can.8
Weight gain has more than one cause. Yes, diet and lifestyle play a major role, but other things may factor in as well. For instance, research has shown that obesity may also be related to inflammation, your body’s natural reaction to injuries or damaged cells. Chronic inflammation can affect insulin resistance, which can cause you to store more fat.9
Well, several spices in Indian food have been linked to reducing chronic inflammation. Here, turmeric is king. Turmeric’s active ingredient, curcumin, suppresses certain proinflammatory factors in the body. Much of the research out there connects this to applications in pain management and heart health, but it may have a good effect on your waistline as well!10
3. Natural Yogurt
Similar to how dal allows vegetarians in India to get more protein, yogurt-based sauces and drinks help you add calcium to your diet. Yogurt is also full of good bacteria that aid your digestive health.
And scientific evidence suggests that using products like yogurt or probiotics to reduce bacterial imbalance in the gut can sometimes lead to a reduction in abdominal fat.11
4. Green Leafy Vegetables
We’ve known for a while that green leafy vegetables are some of the most nutrient-dense and healthy foods you can find. What’s inside most leafy greens? Well, you’ll often find plenty of essentials like:
- Fiber (which helps you feel satisfied)
- Folate (needed for making red blood cells)
- Calcium (helps bones and teeth stay strong)
- Iron (to deliver oxygen throughout your body)
- Vitamin C (for healthy tissue, absorption of iron, and immune system)
- Vitamin K (critical for blood clotting and bone health)12
What you may not know is that many Indian favorites are based on these healthy foods. For instance, sag aloo, a common side dish, is made from spinach. Indian cuisine also uses other green vegetables, like broccoli, kale, and chard. So it’s a great way to make sure your body gets enough of these vital nutrients.
5. Whole Grains
Many grains in the Indian diet are healthier whole grains, like:
The good news about the Indian preference for whole grains is that it already sets you up for weight loss. Studies show that people eating whole grains instead of refined grains store fewer calories overall and can potentially increase their resting metabolic rate.13
When it comes to something sweet in your meal, the Indian diet has got you covered. Fruits like apples, mangoes, papayas, and dates are common in various dishes and Indian meals.
Replacing high-calorie foods with fruits, which have high water and fiber content, means your body has to do less in order to burn more calories. Of course, this is the backbone of weight management.14
In The End…
Incorporating more Indian foods into your diet can be a great way to start slimming your waistline and to create a platform for a healthier diet in general. Not only does the Indian diet provide more fruits and vegetables than many Western diets, but many of the staples also support a healthier lifestyle… Just stay away from the cream-based dishes!
Time to add some international flavor to your next meal?
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