Reasons why you should enjoy the traditional food of Makar Sankranti without feeling guilty

From pongal to ber, here are the health benefits of traditional foods you should enjoy this Makar Sankranti to the fullest.
Makar Sakranti
Makar Sakranti should be celebrated with traditional foods. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock
Dr Pavithra N Raj Updated: 16 Jan 2023, 10:55 am IST
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The harvest festival known as Makar Sankranti is celebrated in the middle of winter every year. The festival will be celebrated on January 15 this year with much fanfare across India. Bacterial and viral infections are more common in the winter. Did you know that the auspicious occasion aligns with the solar cycle? This festival marks the beginning of the harvest season in India. Considered a day of happiness and prosperity, Sankranti also includes delicious food people enjoy. What most people don’t know is that the foods included in this festival are also healthy.

Our forefathers enjoyed the food without knowing the nutritional requirements, calories, or other healthy components that people need. However, festivals are designed to protect the environment and the climate.  The food prepared for these celebrations keeps us warm, provides us with energy, and prevents bacterial and viral infections.

Makar Sankranti
Know the benefits of traditional foods of Makar Sankranti. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Health benefits of traditional foods of Makar Sankranti

Pongal, Ellu-Bella (Sesame seeds), sugarcane, and ber (small turmeric plant) are commonly consumed during this festival. Here are all the health benefits of eating delicious and healthy foods this Makar Sankranti.

1. Pongal

Pongal is typically prepared outdoors, where the sunshine helps us receive vitamin D. The turmeric present in Pongal is also anti-viral. While providing a pleasant scent and flavour, ghee used in its preparation also aids in the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins. This dish contains the strongest antioxidant, vitamin E. During the winter, ghee also hydrates dry skin and hair.

2. Ellu-Bella

It is a blend of groundnuts, dry coconut, sesame seeds, and jaggery.

  • Sesame seeds are a good source of vitamin E as well as minerals like copper, calcium, zinc, and iron. Sesame seeds’ oil helps to moisturize our skin and hair, while its antioxidant properties serve to strengthen the immune system.
  • Dry coconut contains saturated fatty acids, antiviral and antifungal properties. It is also high in fibre and MCTs, which helps to prevent skin infections during winter.
  • On the other hand, ground nut includes omega-6 fats, which support healthy skin and cell function. The B vitamin biotin, necessary for healthy hair development and a smooth scalp, is also found in groundnuts.
  • Jaggery is used to make sugarcane, which is high in electrolytes, calcium, and iron, sugarcane aids in liver detox, boosts the immune system, fights infection, and cures colds and coughs in cold weather.  Jaggery contains many minerals and antioxidants, including calcium, iron, zinc, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, and selenium, all of which help to prevent free radicals. Jaggery increases blood flow and blood vessel dilation, warming the respiratory tract throughout the winter.
Know the benefits of traditional foods of Makar Sankranti. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

3. Ber, bore, or jujube fruit

This fruit is rich in vitamin C and antioxidants, which helps fight free radicals and prevents cell damage. It promotes acne-free, glowing skin and brightens and clears dull skin in the winter. The saponins in jujube detoxify the blood and remove toxins from the body.

Now you know the benefits of Makar Sankranti food, it’s time for you to enjoy the festival all in its glory! Happy Makar Sankranti!

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About the Author

Dr Pavithra N Raj, is a chief dietician at Manipal Hospital in Yeshwanthpur, Karnataka. ...Read More

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