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HomeHEALTHA dish to deplore: Tips to maximise dish potential

A dish to deplore: Tips to maximise dish potential

Express News Service

In food lore, spinach is to cottage cheese what peanut butter is to jelly. Grandmothers don’t always know what’s best for you; eaten together as a dish, palak paneer is as nutritious as processed cheese or sugary cereal. Here’s setting the record straight.  On their own, palak and paneer are superfoods. While the former is rich in iron, fibre, Vitamins A, C and K, folate and potassium, the latter is packed with protein, calcium, phosphorus and good fats. It’s only when they’re combined, does the problem arise.

“Certain food combinations inhibit nutrient absorption because of each other’s contradicting nutritional profile; one such being calcium (from paneer), and iron (from palak),” says Mumbai-based nutrition consultant Deepika Malhotra.

A mere 5 per cent iron is absorbed into the body if had together, which offers little benefit if compared to having palak by itself or with a different ingredient combination. “Additionally, spinach has high levels of oxalate, a chemical compound also considered anti-nutrient, which leads to abysmal absorption of calcium,” says Malhotra.

With minor tweaks, however, you can maximise the potential of the dish. Instead of paneer, add potatoes or corn. Potatoes, besides being rich in carbs, are also replete with Vitamin C, which is vital for the assimilation of iron in the body. Potatoes also have potassium and electrolytes, both considered extremely useful for the body. Corn, on the other hand, does not inhibit iron absorption.

It also has an appropriate amount of iron, which further helps in building red blood cells, in addition to insoluble fibre that digests slowly, avoiding sudden spikes in blood sugar levels. Corn also contains B vitamins and minerals such as zinc, magnesium and copper, neither interfering in iron absorption. That’s how you enjoy a wonderfully straightforward dish, keeping its nutritional value intact.             

Thumb rule
Yes to
Starches + non-starchy vegetables
Protein + non-starchy vegetables
No to
Starches and protein
Protein and other protein         

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