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India has a rich tradition of food and cuisine. The various States of India offer a rich and diverse variety of ingredients and dishes, that are full of colour, taste, and bustling with nutrients. Regardless of our variety of dishes, coming from different parts of the country, one common custom that prevails is the ‘thali’. Thali is a traditional plate, with up to 10 varieties of dishes, accompanied by yoghurt, pickles and condiments.
Thali is served and enjoyed at festivals and when coming together for social gatherings, such as weddings. The plate on which food is served can range from a simple plantain leaf to a silver platter, depending on the part of India you come from, but the food is always high on nutrients.
This way of eating a meal is also beneficial for health, as it has the right portion of food being served, providing a wide variety of nutrients, from proteins to antioxidants:
1. Epitomizes a balanced diet
Each part of India offers its own version of the Indian thali. However, rest assured, each variant provides a balanced portion of food and nutrients. A thali usually comprises lentils, chapati (Indian bread), rice, vegetables, yoghurt, mint or tomato chutney, pickle, and may also be accompanied by buttermilk or tea. These dishes, drinks, and condiments are full of proteins, vitamins, carbohydrates, fibre, minerals and antioxidants. Such a nutritional profile translates into a balanced diet that improves overall health and helps manage weight as well.
2. Helps with weight management
A thali typically has rice, chapati and lentils in adequate proportions. This is a classic carbohydrate and protein combination that provides energy and helps manage weight. Be it rajma or moong daal, lentils can provide essential amino acids and protein, that serve as building blocks for muscle growth, this, in turn, helps lose excess body fat.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends getting 39 milligrams (mg) of leucine (type of amino acid) per kilogram of your body weight each day. Whole grains are a good source of carbohydrates, and as per research published by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, “incorporating whole grains into weight loss plans may help burn fat.”
Eating rice is also a great way to consume carbohydrates that are gluten-free, have no fat, and are full of vitamin B. This ensures that your body is energised and can be subjected to activities such as exercising, which helps build muscles and keep the weight in check.
3. Boosts immunity and overall health
Full of spices and herbs, an Indian thali can help boost immunity and improve gut and heart health. Spices and herbs, such as black pepper, ginger, garlic, cumin, cloves, hing, mint, curry leaves, not just provide flavour, but also have antibacterial, antifungal, antimicrobial and antiviral properties. These properties boost immunity levels and keep the health status in order.
As per the International Journal of Molecular Sciences, lentils are a great source of prebiotics, which help keep gut bacteria balanced. Yoghurt, a staple in Indian thali, is also a fantastic source of probiotics, beneficial for your gut health. Besides, health ailments such as diabetes, heart illnesses and blood pressure, can also be managed by consuming a balanced diet, in the form of a thali, consisting of vitamins, antioxidants and proteins. In fact, the American Heart Association recommends a diet based on plants, which includes whole grains and vegetables.
So, enjoy your favourite Indian thali, and get ready to nourish and satiate both your taste buds and health!