Recipe and Health Benefits of South Asian Dish Raita
May 11, 2011
As various health problems are emerging at an alarming rate due to obesity, millions of people are spending thousands of dollars to lose weight. People are trying various types of diets like TLC diet (Therapeutic Lifestyle Change-for high cholesterol) and Atkins diet (that focuses on low carbohydrate). All of these diets claim to be nutritionally balanced and proven by scientific research. But the question is: are they as effective as they claim? And what happens if a person stops following these diet regimens?
The most important thing we should realize is that eating a simple, balanced and home cooked meals and doing at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity every week will help us to maintain a healthy life. It is not always necessary to visit a fitness center and spend several hours lifting weights in the gym. Even simple forms of exercise such as brisk walking, gardening, cycling, doing household chores help us to improve cardio respiratory system and muscular strength.
Therefore, in this article I want to share a recipe that is very healthy with lots of nutritional value and easy to prepare for working and busy people. The dish is called Raita.
Raita is a South Asian cuisine usually used as a salad or dip. It is made from plain yogurt with tomatoes, cucumber and avocado, cumin seeds, black salt, cilantro, and green chilies. Here are the preparation steps for raita:
Raita Preparation Steps:
- First beat 2 cups of fat free, plain yogurt in a bowl.
- Grate one whole cucumber and one tomato.
- Cut one avocado in small cubic sizes.
- Squeeze the cucumber to remove some water content.
- Mix these ingredients in yogurt.
- Add black salt (common salt can also be used if you don’t find black salt) to your taste.
- Crush 1 tablespoon of cumin seeds roughly. Mix it with other ingredients.
- Heat 2 tablespoon of olive oil, add 1 chopped green chilly to the heated oil and leave it for around 10 seconds for chilies to slightly change color.
- Mix these in the yogurt mixture for an extra flavor. And finally garnish with cilantro.
The ingredients used in this raita recipe are cheap, low in calories and easily available with several health benefits. The main ingredient, yogurt is filled with bacteria that are good for the digestive tract. It is also a good source of calcium and Vitamin D which helps to prevent osteoporosis.
Cucumber contains a large amount of water and is high in Vitamin C. The cucumber skin is rich in fiber and contains a variety of minerals like potassium, magnesium and tryptophan. Vitamin C is important for a good immune system and is required for the growth and repair of tissues. Fiber is another important element that helps to reduce constipation, colon cancer etc. Studies show that food high in fiber content will reduce the risk of heart diseases and improve glucose tolerance by reducing the risk of diabetes.
Avocado is rich in healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. These fats help to reduce the LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) and raise the amount of HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol) in our body. When these fats are consumed in a moderate quantity, they reduce the risk of Atherosclerosis and other heart diseases.
Lycopene, which is found in tomato, has been found to reduce prostate and other types of cancer. Tomato is a good source of Vitamin A which promotes good vision, healthy teeth, gums and skin. Carotenoids found in tomato are rich in antioxidants.
Cumin seeds are rich in iron which is an essential component of hemoglobin and helps in transporting oxygen in the body for cellular respiration and energy generation. Cumin seeds help in the secretion of pancreatic juice that aids in proper digestion and contains anti-carcinogenic properties.
Black salt is used in ayurvedic medicine to reduce high blood pressure because it is believed to contain lower sodium content than common salt. This is very useful for people suffering from hypertension. It is also used as a stool softener and is a remedy for constipation.
Similarly, green chilies contain phytochemicals called capsaicinoids that contain anti-ulcer property and is effective on stomach problems caused by the infections from Helicobacter pylori. It also provides relief from rhinitis by clearing stuffed nose and congested lungs.
Cilantro is believed to increase HDL cholesterol and reduce LDL levels in the blood and provides relief in digestive problems. It is also believed to be an aphrodisiac.
Raita dish is an excellent source of all vital nutrients with amazing healing properties for various health problems. Enjoy this tasty dish to eat healthy on a budget!
(Sandhya Poudel is a graduate student at Springfield College in Massachussets with a major in Health Promotion and Disease Prevention with a concentration in Nutrition as well. She enjoys cooking healthy recipes in her free time.)