Food Atlas

For every 2-3 pieces of pakoda, you consume over 5 grams of fat, or 8% of your total daily allowance of fat

One way in which the public can be educated about diet and nutrition is to know, what exactly is the composition of the various foods that they eat. In the West, where one can easily assess the food intake, eg., two slices of white bread, one apples, a slice of pizza and so on as most of the food is standardised. In India, on the other hand the way the food is prepared is very complex and hence it is extremely difficult to quantity what we have eaten.

Until recently, there was no atlas of Indian foods which gives the composition of various Indian foods. The Madras Diabetes Research Foundation and Dr. Mohan’s Diabetes Specialities Centre at Chennai took up this challenge a few years ago. A team of 4 scientists and 14 research dieticians worked on this project for almost seven years to produce the first and only ‘Atlas of Indian foods’. The Atlas was first published in 2013 and updated continuously. The nutrients were calculated both from raw ingredients used in the recipes and cooked food analysis carried out at our in-house analytical lab. The nutrient data were obtained from the Nutritive value of Indian foods and the USDA.

Today’s choice, Pakoda

Pakoda is a traditional Indian snack/ starter consumed in all parts of the country. Varieties of vegetables, roots and tubers are slipped and dipped in spicy Bengal gram flour batter and deep fried, like fritters, and eaten with yoghurt dip or chutney.

Nutrition facts

For every 20 gms of pakoda (about two pieces), you consume about 103 Kcal of energy, 10.3 g of carbohydrate, 2.9 g of protein, 5.5. g of fat and 1.7 g of dietary fibre.

Now compare:

103 Kcal of energy is equivalent to 4 heaped teaspoons of sugar
10.3 g of carbohydrate is about 2 table spoons of cooked rice
2.9 g of protein is equivalent to having 1 potato
5.5 g of fat is like having 8% of your total daily allowance of fat.
Being deep fried, pakoras increase bad cholesterol and lower good cholesterol from the body, leading to obesity and coronary diseases.

5 grams of fat Is equivalent to:
1 tsp oil, butter, margarine, or mayonnaise
1 Tbsp salad dressing
16 pistachios
10 peanuts

(Source: Celeveland Clinic)