Makar sankranti is a festival dedicated to the Sun God. It falls in January and is the beginning of the Sun’s journey into the Makar (Capricorn) sign. It is celebrated all over India and is known by various names such as lohri, bihu, pongal, etc. It celebrates the harvest season and as is the case with all celebrations, food forms a central part of it!
The beauty of this festival is that it is celebrated with food that has various benefits in the winter season. Some of these super foods include-
1. Til-also known as gingelly seeds. These are basically oil seeds which provide 563 kilocalories, 18.3 gm protein, 43.3 gm fat per 100 gm of seeds. They are rich in various B complex vitamins and minerals such as copper, magnesium, calcium and zinc. Various studies have shown that til seeds provide relief in Rheumatoid arthritis, help in respiratory disorders, promote bone health, improve hair and skin and are a great stress buster.
2. Jaggery-you might think of the humble jaggery as just a sweetener, but it is a lot more than that. It is rich in antioxidants and minerals like selenium and zinc, which help in scavenging the free radicals in the body. It aids in digestion by activating the various digestive enzymes in the stomach. It can help alleviate the symptoms of PMS in women.
3. Groundnuts-are also oil seeds. They provide 567 kilocalories, 25.3 gm of protein and 40.1 gm of fat per 100 gm of seeds. They also contain magnesium, niacin, copper, oleic acid, and antioxidants such as resveratrol. Eating peanuts in optimum quantities can help in weight loss, healthy heart and prevention of gallstones.
4. Ghee-ghee is a powerhouse of nutrients. It provides energy and contains various minerals and fat soluble vitamins like A, D, E and K. It has anti-inflammatory properties, helps in keeping the heart healthy and also helps to flush out toxins from the body.
5. Seasonal vegetables-contain more nutrients, antioxidants and nutrients which are essential for the body. Seasonal vegetables are allowed to develop fully on the plant itself, thereby enhancing their nutrient value.
6. Leafy vegetables-these are grown abundantly in winters and have various health benefits. They are a great source of antioxidants, minerals and fibre. They help to improve the metabolism, relieve constipation, and have cancer-preventing agents like lutein and zeaxanthin.
7. Bajra-it comes from the family of millets. It contains 361 kilocalories, 12 gm protein and 5 gm fat per 100 gm of the millet. Additionally, it contains complex carbohydrates, resistant starch, magnesium, polyphenols like flavonoids and omega 3 fatty acids. It is beneficial for gut health, diabetes, healthy heart and helps protect against ageing, cancer and metabolic disorders.
Indian festival foods are often those which are grown in abundance during that time and Sankrant foods are no exception. Enjoy these foods, but be aware of the quantity and portion sizes, because ultimately, moderation is the key!
Siddhi Takalkar-founder of NutriWorks is a Registered Dietitian in Pune with a Masters in Nutrition and Dietetics. She has a vast experience in advising diets for various health conditions and is the best Dietitian and Nutritionist in Pune for all your Nutritional needs.