Indian cuisine is known for its aromatic rice, spicy curry dishes and grilled breads. While many Indian foods are nutritious and low in cholesterol, others are not. By applying the same healthy-eating guidelines you'd use for American cuisine, you can enjoy tasty Indian dishes without compromising your wellness goals. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends a diet that emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains and calcium-rich foods for optimum health. For best results, seek specified guidance from a qualified professional.
Fish or Seafood Curry
Numerous Indian fish and seafood dishes are rich in protein and calcium. One 3-oz. serving of canned sardines provides 325mg of calcium -- roughly one-third of adults' daily recommended intake. Other calcium-rich fish and seafood varieties include canned salmon and tuna, Atlantic salmon, canned and fresh crab, freshwater sea bass, shrimp, cod, herring, mackerel, pollack and sunfish. The American Heart Association recommends choosing fish curry prepared in a lentil or vegetable base over meat curries and curries prepared in coconut milk, which are generally high in saturated fat. Fish and seafood prepared in a tandoori, or clay, oven, are also typically low in fat and cholesterol.
Leafy greens, such as spinach, kale and mustard greens, are naturally cholesterol-free and provide rich amounts of fiber and nutrients, including calcium. One cup of frozen, cooked, spinach provides close to one-third of adults' recommended calcium intake. Ritu Arora, author of "Healthy Kitchen: More Than 350 Oil-Free Recipes," suggests combining spinach with plain nonfat yogurt, chopped carrots and curry spices for a tasty, nutritious raita -- Indian-style salad dressing. One cup of yogurt provides more than 400mg of calcium -- more calcium than an 8-oz. serving of milk. For additional benefits, enjoy leafy green salad in place of fried appetizers, such as samosas, at Indian restaurants, and incorporate chopped leafy greens into curry dishes at home.
Paneer is a soft, low-fat cheese that enhances flavor, texture and the nutritional content of numerous Indian dishes. One ounce of paneer cheese contains 15 milligrams of cholesterol, only 5 percent of the recommended 300 milligram daily recommended limit for adults. Arora describes paneer as one of the most common, versatile Indian food ingredients and a valuable way to meet your calcium needs. You can find paneer in the refrigerated section of Indian grocery stores. Arora suggests enjoying paneer fresh, mixed with vegetables or cubed, seasoned with chili or curry powder and grilled. You can also puree paneer in a food processor for added creaminess, protein and calcium in mango shakes, desserts, such as Indian-style cheesecake and creamy curry sauces. Common paneer-based dishes include saag paneer -- curried spinach and cheese, matar paneer -- curried peas and cheese, and aloo paneer -- grilled potatoes with cheese.
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010
- American Heart Association: Tips for Eating Indian Food
- "Healthy Kitchen: More Than 350 Oil-Free Recipes"; Ritu Arora; 2002
- MyFitnessPal.com: Indian Food - Paneer Cheese - Cheese