Onam Nutrition: Bring Home The Harvest
What hides in every mouthful
Harvest festivals put focus on fresh food and healthy lifestyles. It is also the time to engage people in local food and fresh food. The Onam is the harvest festival of the state of Kerala,
celebrated since the 800 AD, in the month of Chingam (August-September).
The highlight of the festival is the delicious Onam Sadya, where 26-42 dishes are cooked, served and shared with friends and family. The bulk of the culinary preparations are made of 22 varieties of dishes, with root vegetables as the key ingredient: yam, tapioca, sweet potato and banana stem.
RICH IN VITAMINS
They are rich in Vitamin D, that takes care of bones, teeth, skin and heart; Vitamin C, that produces collagen for great skin; Vitamin A that protects the eyes; and a range of B vitamins—Vitamin B1 (Thiamine), Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin), Vitamin B3 (Niacin), Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid), Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)—that help prevent infections, support or promote cell health. growth of red blood cells, energy levels, good eyesight, healthy brain function, good digestion, healthy appetite and proper nerve function.
METALS AND MINERALS
Potassium is the major mineral in most root crops while sodium tends to be low. This makes them particularly valuable in the diet of patients with high blood pressure (although not for people with renal failure). They also supply some of the key metals and minerals for good health: magnesium, iron, zinc, manganese, calcium and phosphorus requirement of adults.
Here’s what the they do for us, according the Harvard Medical School (Harvard Health Publishing):
Calcium builds bones and teeth; activates enzymes throughout the body; helps regulate blood pressure; and helps muscles to contract, nerves to send messages, and blood to clot.
Chromium helps maintain normal blood sugar levels and helps cells draw energy from blood sugar.
Copper assists with metabolizing fuel, making red blood cells, regulating neurotransmitters, and mopping up free radicals.
Iron helps make hemoglobin (the oxygen-carrying chemical in the body's red blood cells) and myoglobin (a protein in muscle cells). Iron is essential for activating certain enzymes and for making amino acids, collagen, neurotransmitters, and hormones.
Magnesium, like calcium, builds bones and teeth. It also helps to regulate blood pressure and blood sugar and enables muscles to contract, nerves to send messages, blood to clot, and enzymes to work.
Manganese helps form bones and helps metabolize amino acids, cholesterol, and carbohydrates.
Potassium balances fluids in the body, helps to maintain a steady heartbeat and to make muscles contract, and may benefit bones and blood pressure.
Sodium balances fluids in the body, helps send nerve impulses, and helps make muscles contract.
Zinc helps blood clot, helps make proteins and DNA, bolsters the immune system, and helps with wound healing and cell division.
The Onam platter includes powerful antioxidants, that fight germs, illness, inflammation, and cancer-causing molecules: turmeric, tamarind, ginger, chillies, peppercorns, herbs to vegetables like white gourd, cabbage and carrots. Almost every Onam dish is prepared with plentiful coconut and butter milk, both rich source of probiotics which help with the gut bacteria. Chickpeas and daal add the protein content. All the dishes are made with a sprinkling of hing, which has digestive qualities, too.