Regional Indian diets offer varied nutritional benefits but are usually calorie dense and often low fibre too.

Regional diets across India are rich in diversity, flavour, and texture. However, Indian eating habits and diets do merit some concern.  We tend to eat large portions, at high speed. And our diet is high in calories, and low in fibre, possibly because it evolved during a period when the country suffered from frequent famines.

But today, many regional foods are ill-suited to our sedentary lifestyles. The time to modify some popular regional fare, and create a healthier version of popular dishes, is here!

Here is a quick look at Indian regional fare, to enable you to get an insight into the nutritional qualities.

#1 South
Traditional diets in this region focus on rice as a staple. This is accompanied by lentils, vegetables, fried foods, and various condiments. South Indian food relies on spices such as fenugreek and mustard, known to have medicinal properties.

Fermented foods such as idlis which are favoured in the hot climate of this region, are also known to be an ideal source of nutrition. These are easy to digest, have the right balance of carbohydrates and proteins, and are rich in vitamins.

The south Indian diet is high in calories and low in fibre though. Even though there a wide variety of vegetable dishes, these are largely ignored. Usually served in small portions that are overloaded with coconut, these simply add to the fat content of the meal.

Fare from this part of the country also includes condiments and fried foods, such as pickles and papads which are high in sodium and fat, that cause high blood pressure.

#2 West
The west is known for delicacies such as dhokla, thepla, and vada pav. While Gujarat is largely vegetarian, Rajasthan has well-known non-vegetarian dishes. But coastal Maharashtra and Goa are famed for their fish-based cuisine.

The food tends to be a balance of sweet, sour and spicy, to balance the hot, dry weather of the region. The dishes are heavy on chickpea flour, jowar (sorghum), and bajra (millet), which ensure enough protein and nutrients such as calcium and iron, and fibre.

However, vegetarian food dominates meals, and can lead to a deficiency of Vitamin B12. The excess sugar in Gujarati cuisine is linked to a rise in diabetes, in that region too. Deep fried foods are also an important element in meals of this region, and vegetables barely feature.

#3 East

Cuisine from East India is varied. People in this region are attached to eating fish, which is rich in Omega-3 fatty acids. Nearly every meal has a non-vegetarian dish. The chosen cooking medium is mustard oil, known to lower bad cholesterol. Add to this panch phoron( five spice mixture) and you have the deep, rich flavour that characterizes this food.

Staple foods include white rice and the deep fried luchi made of refined flour, which aren’t as healthy though.

#4 North
Of all the four regions, the food from this region enjoys the most global popularity. That’s because the diet from this region is diverse, and includes a range of non-vegetarian and vegetables dishes. Also, there are a variety of dals and pulses such as rajma and chick peas. Food is cooked in ghee or clarified butter, and has a rich wholesome taste.

Interestingly, the traditional Punjabi diet has plenty of healthy elements. Whole wheat rotis are both fibrous and delicious, the habit of eating goods based on the season, is healthy.

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