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Celebrate a Healthy Lohri..... Nutrition Facts & More

15 Jan 2016
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Makar Sankranti marks the beginning of festivals in India. The name Makar Sankranti is derived from the celestial position of sun during that period. On that particular day, the sun enters the sun-sign of Capricorn. Capricorn is named Makara in Sanskrit and the movement of Sun is defined as Sankranti, hence, Makar Sankranti is the day when Sun traverses from another zodiac into Capricorn. Even though it is popularly known as Makar Sankranti, this festival is predominantly a harvest festival and is celebrated throughout India.
While Makar Sankranti is most popular in West India, down south, this festival is known as Pongal and in the north, it is celebrated as Lohri, which is a harvest festival of North India and marks the end of winter and the coming of spring and New Year. In different regions of India, it is celebrated in different names such as Uttarayan, Maghi, and Khichdi.
The munching of seasonal goodies like popcorn, peanuts and sugar cane becomes an integral part of the celebration. Indian festivals are incomplete without a lavish meal and some exclusive food items which are consumed during that period.
Let's have a look at what Makar Sankranti, brings to the table for us.   

 

FOODS THAT ARE RELISHED DURING MAKAR SANKRANTI
On Makar Sankranti, the first harvest of sugarcane is delighted. This sugarcane reap is then converted into jaggery. Sweets made of jaggery are distributed during the festival, as a part of the traditions of Makar Sankranti. Here are a few important health benefits of sugarcane and jaggery.   

 

SUGARCANE

  • Sugarcane provides glucose to the body, which is stored as glycogen and used by the muscles, whenever they require energy. Therefore, it is considered to be one of the best sources of energy.
  • It energizes the body and refreshes it at the same time. Sugarcane is also good for digestion as it can effectively work as a mild laxative because of its high potassium content.

 

JAGGERY

  • Jaggery is rich in iron. Taking a few grams of jaggery each day is known to be beneficial. It also increases the hemoglobin levels of the blood and prevents anemia.
  • It is also a rich source of potassium and magnesium.
  • Jaggery helps in relieving constipation, thereby improving digestion.
  • It also helps people with water retention problem and reduces blood pressure in hypertensives.
  • It cures a dry cough and is helpful for throat infections making it a useful winter ingredient.
  • Jaggery is also helpful for asthma patients as it has anti-allergic properties.
  • It also contains antioxidants that help in preventing premature ageing.
  • Mixing jaggery with water helps reduce tiredness and relaxes the muscles, nerves and blood vessels.

 

TILL GUD LADDOOS

During Sankranti, it is an age-old tradition to exchange Til Gud laddoo (Sesame-Jaggery sweet), which is a must-eat sweet in this festival. While interchanging tilguls as an expression of affection and best wishes, people say, (in Maharashtra) - 'til-gud ghya, god god bola' meaning 'Accept these tilguds, Utter sweet words'. Illustration of this statement is that in the festival of bliss everyone should let the past ill-feelings be bygones of the past and embrace each other as true friends with affectionate and friendly feelings.

 

BENEFITS OF TILL (SESAME SEEDS)

  • Great protein source: Sesame seeds are full of high-quality protein. Protein makes up 20 percent of the seed with 4.7 grams of protein per ounce.
  • For healthy skin: Sesame seeds are rich in zinc content, which produces collagen that helps in maintaining the elasticity of the skin and also in repairing the damaged tissues of the skin. Thus, resulting in the flawless and glowing texture of the skin.
  • Boosts heart health: Sesame seed oil can help achieve heart health by preventing atherosclerotic lesions with the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compound known as sesamol.
  • Enhances the bone health and prevents Osteoporosis: Sesame seeds are a rich source of calcium, it is proven that a handful of sesame seeds consists of more calcium content than a glass of milk. Moreover, the zinc present in these seeds increases the bone mineral density as well

 

HOW MUCH TO EAT:  2 no. Of small laddoos

CHIKKI 

Chikki is also another traditional sweet consumed during Makar Sankranti is now available all around the year due to its popularity. Chikkis from tourists spots like Lonavala, Khandala are well known for their quality and variety. Traditionally made from peanuts and jaggery, chikkis are now available in different flavors and are made of different ingredients. Let's have a look at the benefits of peanuts.
 

PEANUTS 

Peanuts are an excellent source of energy (567 calories per 100 g) and is reserved with health improving nutrients, minerals, antioxidants and vitamins that are important for a healthy and fit life.

  • Growth and development: Peanuts are rich in proteins. The amino acids present in them are good for excellent for growth and development of body
  • Anti-oxidants: Peanuts emanate high concentrations of anti-oxidants, which turns highly active after the peanuts are boiled. There is a 2-fold increase in Biochanin-A and 4-fold increase in Genistein content. These elements minimize the damage done by the free radicals created in the body.
  • Protects Skin: Vitamin E content available in peanuts maintains the integrity of the skin cells and mucous membrane cells.
  • Heart Health: Peanuts contain mono-unsaturated fatty acids. It helps lower LDL or bad cholesterol and increase HDL or good cholesterol level in the blood. The compound reservatol in peanuts also dilates the blood vessels thereby improving the flow of blood.
  • Vitamins: Peanuts contain B complex, vitamins like niacin, riboflavin, thiamine, vitamin B6, vitamin B9, pantothenic acid etc. Due to the presence of niacin it also improves memory and boosts brain activity.
  • Minerals: Potassium, manganese, copper, calcium, magnesium, iron, selenium and zinc are some of the minerals present in peanuts. These play an important role in many different body functions.

 

HOW MUCH TO EAT:  A 4-inch piece of any chikki bar.

Anything in excess is not going to do any good to your health. If you go overboard with these delicacies, you are adding on extra unnecessary calories, and end up putting on some extra kgs after the festival is over.
 

So enjoy Makarsankrant guilt free!!


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