For several years it has been recognized that south Asians have certain unique clinical and biochemical characteristics that make them susceptible to obesity .These are collectively referred to as the South Asian Phenotype. Asians have a unique body phenotype with relatively lower BMI but increased abdominal adiposity and body fat particularly visceral fat.
The Asian Indian race both native and migrant has extra body fat in its composition which has now been nicknamed “The Thin Fat Indian”. We have more fat and less muscle and have the best brains but do not make the best athletes. Possibly we have world chess champions and are the software outsource capital of the world but we lack woefully in Olympic sports.
The traditional India diet is very healthy and balanced. Indians get their proteins from lamb, fish, chicken, bean and pulses.
The carbohydrates come from rice, wheat and bread. Due to climatic differences across India, rice is popular among south Indians while wheat is preferred by north Indians.
The cooking oils, nuts, ghee and butter used in Indian diets serve as source of fats. The type of oils used in different parts of India is different for example groundnut oil is largely used in eastern India and coconut oil in south India.
The various mixes of vegetables and fruits used provide all the essential minerals and vitamins. Fruits like guavas, mangoes, grapes, melons, oranges, apples etc are widely grown and consumed in all parts of India.
The majority of Indians are vegetarians and hence it comes as no surprise that their diet is nearly entirely comprised of vegetables.
Dairy products form a major part of the Indian diet. A large number of Indian savories are made from curd or milk. Yogurt is used in curries, milk in sweets and porridge, deserts etc. curd is used in a variety of sauces in Indian gravies and in chat items like Chat Paapad. Butter milk is a part of the staple Indian diet in most parts of India.
It is not surprising that spices form the core of the Indian diet. Most of these spices are used not only for their smells and exotic flavors but also for their medicinal properties. Turmeric is a well known anti septic and is also proven to prevent Alzheimer’s disease. Ginger has cold relieving properties. Other spices like cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, garlic and chilies are other commonly used spices.
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