Contributed by Ms.Pavithra N Raj, Chief Dietician, Columbia Asia Referral Hospital Yeshwanthpur
Sankranti is generally called as Harvest Festival, which is celebrated in mid-winter. Winter is the time for viral and bacterial infections.
Our ancestors did not have the knowledge about the nutritional requirements, calories and other content of the food. But festivals are designed to take care of the climatic conditions. Food Prepared during this festival helps to keep the body warm, gives energy and keeps the viral and bacterial infection at bay.
During this festival generally Pongal, Ellu- bella, sugarcane, ber are consumed.
Pongal: Pongal is generally cooked outside in the presence of sunlight which helps us to get Vitamin D for a few months. Turmeric used in the pongal is also Anti-Viral. Ghee gives good aroma and taste at the same time helps us get fat soluble vitamins. Vitamin E is the most powerful antioxidants. Ghee also helps moisturize dry skin and hair during winter.
Jaggery which is made up of sugar cane helps cleanse the liver and acts as detox. Jaggery is loaded with antioxidants and minerals like calcium, iron, zinc, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, selenium, which helps prevent free radicals. Jaggery dilates the blood vessels and improves blood flow thus creating warmth in the respiratory tract during winter.
Pongal also contains rice and moong dal which is balanced with carbohydrates and protein.
Ellu- bella: It is a mixture of sesame seeds, dry coconut, groundnut and jaggery.
Sesame seeds: It is a rich source of minerals like copper, calcium, zinc, iron as well as vitamin E. its antioxidants property helps boost immunity and the oil content of sesame seeds helps moisture skin and hair.
Dry coconut: rich in fiber and MCTs its antiviral and antifungal also saturated fatty acids helps prevent skin infection during winter.
Groundnut: contains omega 6 fats helps to keep cell and skin healthy. Groundnut is also a good source of biotin which is B vitamin essential for growth of hair and scalp healthy.
Sugarcane: Rich in electrolyte, calcium, iron, which is excellent for liver detox, helps boost the immune system, fight infection and cure cold and cough in the winter climate.
Ber or bore fruit or Jujube: This fruit is rich in vitamin C and antioxidants helps fight free radicals and prevent cell damage. It helps acne free glowing skin, helps brightening and clears dull skin in winter. The saponins friend in Jujube detoxify the blood and removes toxins from the body.