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Dr K K Aggarwal

Do not heat leafy vegetables twice

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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Nitrates in foods like spinach, beet root and lettuce stimulate the production of nitric oxide in the body. Nitric oxide is known to relax the blood vessels. Ingested nitrate is reduced by oral, commensal, bacteria to nitrite, which is further reduced to nitric oxide.

Vegetables are a major source of dietary nitrate. Green leafy and root vegetables, such as spinach and carrots, provide more than 85% of dietary nitrate. Foods that contain nitrite are bacon, fermented sausage, hot dogs, bologna, salami, corned beef, ham and other products such as smoked or cured meat, fish and poultry. The conversion of dietary nitrate to nitrite is associated with antimicrobial benefits in the mouth and stomach. Some epidemiological studies have shown a reduced rate of gastric and intestinal cancer in those with a high vegetable-based nitrate intake.

Nitrate is totally harmless; however, it can be converted to nitrite and some portion of nitrite to nitrosamines, some of which are known to be carcinogenic. Heating tends to increase the conversion rate. The longer the heat treatment, the more nitrosamines will be formed. Hence, the recommendation not to heat leafy vegetables twice.

Adding lemon juice to vegetables will reduce the formation of nitrosamines. It contains vitamin C, which also reacts with nitrite, thereby preventing the nitrosamine formation.

Some tips to prevent anemia

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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  1. Eat foods rich in iron. Some iron-rich foods include dark-green leafy vegetables, such as watercress and curly kale, iron-fortified cereals, whole grains, such as brown rice, beans, nuts, meat, apricots, prunes, and raisins.
  2. Include vitamin C-rich foods and drinks in your diet as it will help the body in absorbing iron.
  3. Avoid drinking tea or coffee with meals, as this affects the absorption of iron.
  4. Include enough sources of vitamin B12 and folic acid in your diet.

Is microwave safe for cooking and nutrition?

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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Some people believe that microwave cooking removes nutrients and makes food less healthy.

Microwave ovens cook food using waves of energy that are similar to radio waves but shorter. These waves are remarkably selective, primarily affecting water and other molecules that are electrically asymmetrical — one end positively charged and the other negatively charged. Microwaves cause these molecules to vibrate and quickly build up thermal (heat) energy.

Some nutrients break down when they are exposed to heat, whether it is from a microwave or a regular oven. Vitamin C is perhaps the clearest example. But because microwave cooking times are shorter, cooking with a microwave does a better job of preserving vitamin C and other nutrients that break down when heated.

Cooking vegetables in water robs them of some of their nutritional value because the nutrients leach out into the cooking water. For example, boiled broccoli loses glucosinolate, the sulfur-containing compound that may give the vegetable its cancer-fighting properties (as well as the taste that many find distinctive and some find disgusting). Is steaming vegetables better? In some respects, yes. For example, steamed broccoli holds on to more glucosinolate than boiled or fried broccoli.

The cooking method that best retains nutrients is one that cooks quickly, heats food for the shortest amount of time, and uses as little liquid as possible. Microwaving meets those criteria. Using the microwave with a small amount of water essentially steams food from the inside out. That keeps more vitamins and minerals than almost any other cooking method. (Harvard News Letter)

Magh is Fertility Month

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1. Starting from lohri starts the fertility and the marriage month.

2. Other fertility months are Vaishak and Kartik

3. All fertility months involve sun bath (vitamin D) near Ganges or rivers (mental bath with detoxification of the mind), eating high calcium food ( sesame), eating high iron foods (jaggery) and consuming fertility friendly foods (black tulsi seeds and leaves, amla etc); positive thinking (most festivals are in Uttarayana or after Chaturmas in Dakshinayana); high intake of iron (jaggery), calcium (sesame), vitamin D (sunlight), physical, mental and soul detoxification ( vratas).

4. Tulsi is worshiped throughout the magh mela and in kalpvas.

5. Seeds of tulsi are effective in premature ejaculation .It also increases quantity of semen.

6. Tulsi contains small amount of Vitamin C and Folate.

7.  Tulsi can also take care of insulin resistance. One can take a paste made from 21 leaves each of neem, bail, tulsi at breakfast time to reduce insulin resistance. One can also soak 1 tsp fenugreek seeds at bedtime in a cup of water and take this water first thing in the morning.

8. A weight decrease of only 5 percent of total body weight is associated with decreased insulin levels, increased fertility, reduced hirsutism and acne, and lower androgen levels.

About the author: Dr K K Aggarwal is Padma Shri and Dr B C Roy National Awardee, President Heart Care Foundation of India and National Vice President Elect IMA