Considering our morning rush and the need to have a powerful breakfast that can be prepared quickly, poha or flattened rice is emerging as the best bet, especially for diabetics. Blood sugar friendly, lactose free, gluten free, heart healthy, fat free, poha ticks all the right boxes.
HOW DOES POHA RATE OVER IDLI
Poha is the best breakfast food because it contains about 70% healthy carbohydrates and 30% fat. “Their fiber content allows sugar to be released slowly and steadily into the bloodstream, rather than causing an unexpected spike, thus preventing sudden spikes. So if you want to fuel yourself for the day, poha fa a better job instead of rice, idli or dosa. Plus, you get a healthy dose of carbs without worrying about the heaviness and sluggishness that other rice products can induce,” says Debjani Banerjee, Incharge Dietetics, PSRI Hospital, New Delhi.
“Both are probiotics and rich in B vitamins. But poha has high iron and calcium content compared to idli. Also, it has a much lower glycemic index than idli rice,” says Dr. Geethu Salan, Chief Dietitian, Jothydev Diabetes and Research Centre, Thiruvananthapuram. The rice is boiled before being flattened and can therefore be consumed with very little or no cooking.
YOU CAN ADD OTHER NUTRIENTS AND INGREDIENTS
“Because it’s cooked together with a range of vegetables, including peas, cauliflower, beans, carrot, cilantro and even crunchy peanuts, your dish becomes more nutritious and filling. It’s a flexible meal option and packs a punch nutritious fist,” says Banerjee.
SITS EASY ON THE STOMACH
Poha is very light on the stomach and can be easily digested. Therefore, it can be taken as the first meal in the morning or as a light meal in the evening. “Poha will never cause bloating and will keep you full for longer. It is also quite low in calories. A bowl of cooked vegetable poha has only about 250 calories, along with a host of essential vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Due to the presence of curry leaves, the poha becomes heart-healthy,” advises Banerjee. Adding some peanuts to the mix can boost the calorie count of your meal and be a good source of antioxidants and protein. So, if you’re overweight, you might want to skip them.
GOOD PROBIOTIC, GOOD DOSE FOR HOLISTIC HEALTH
Poha is considered a probiotic. “During processing, it goes through fermentation. As a result, it retains good bacteria and improves gut health. It contains high amounts of iron, making it a healthy choice for those with iron deficiency anaemia,” says Dr Salan. Desi and red poha are rich in essential minerals such as zinc, iron and potassium, which are essential essential for holistic health Zinc helps with immunity and metabolism, iron is necessary for growth and potassium benefits fluid balance.
IT CAN BE HAD IN SEVERAL WAYS
Poha is a versatile dish and can be served in many ways. Dr. Salan suggests the following:
Poha upma: It is a common dish. By adding nuts, vegetables and pulses like green peas, poha upma can be made nutritious. Also squeeze some lime juice on top, as it is rich in vitamin C which helps the absorption of iron. This dish is a good choice for all ages.
Aval Nanachathu: Poha mixed with jaggery and coconut. This iron-rich snack is a healthy choice for kids.
Poha with Curd: Poha soaked in water and then sieved. The curd is added with table salt and eaten with mango or lemon pickle.
Dahi Churaa: Poha mixed with ripe banana, yogurt and sugar. Although it is an “anytime” snack, it is also traditionally eaten by farmers during the rice planting season.