Cuisine » Food Ingredients

The star of Sree's popular chickpea potato and chickpea masala dishes is actually a member of the bean family! Along with black-eyed peas, kidney beans, butter beans, and black beans, chickpeas are rich in folic acid, iron, copper, magnesium, and soluble fiber which can lower "bad" LDL cholesterol levels.

In ancient times, people ate only the greens and used the root for supposed medicinal purposes. Beets are rich in folic acid (helps prevent some types of anemia, neural-tube birth defects, and cervical cancer). They also offer soluble and non-soluble fiber (to help keep your intestinal tract functioning properly, and your blood-sugar and cholesterol levels in check).

Bitter Gourd
The gourd is a good source of vitamin C, and is seen by some as a good appetite tonic when the palate is stimulated by a bitter flavor. It is regarded by many as an acquired taste.

Mainly grown in California, broccoli combines top nutrition with almost no calories. First on the vast list of broccoli benefits are vitamin C, vitamin A (as beta-carotene), folic acid, calcium and fiber. Vegans need to be especially aware of calcium intake, as this osteoporosis-preventing mineral is hard to find elsewhere. Broccoli's important anti-oxidants, beta-carotene and vitamin C possibly prevent cataracts, heart disease and various cancers. The National Cancer Institute and the American Cancer Society recommend eating broccoli, or other cruciferous vegetables several times per week as preventative medicine.

A cruciferous vegetable, can significantly reducing the risk of certain cancers, including colorectal cancer. Cabbage may also fight breast cancer by changing estradiol into a safe form of estrogen. In addition to fiber and vitamin C, cabbage contributes calcium, which can prevent osteoporosis and control blood pressure.

Notorious for being good for your eyes, the beta-carotene in carrots helps prevent night blindness and cataracts. Beta-carotene also helps to prevent cancer, including lung, stomach, cervix, uterus, and oral cavity cancer. Evidence has been found that carrots prevent strokes. Also, the soluble calcium pectate fiber, can help reduce cholesterol. Note: one raw carrot has around four times the recommended amount of beta-carotene.

Like broccoli, this cruciferous vegetable is a natural cancer fighter, because of a combination of phytochemicals and vitamin C. After citrus fruits, cruciferous vegetables are the next best source of vitamin C. Cauliflower also offers fiber, folic acid and potassium. For a change of pace and a milder flavor, look for broccoflower - a cross between broccoli and cauliflower. In addition to a slightly milder flavor, broccoflower has a little more beta-carotene.

Celery was held in much higher regard by the Greeks and Romans than we do today. While celery isn't really considered a health food because of its low nutritional value, it was an ancient Chinese remedy to lower blood pressure. Recent studies have found that celery lowers blood pressure in rats, so there may be something to this. Note - While celery is an excellent way to keep your mouth and stomach busy while trying to lose weight, the belief that you can burn more calories chewing celery than it takes to eat it (creating negative calories) is not true.

This grain - when served in a healthy manner - is an excellent source folic acid, niacin, and vitamin C. Corn is also high in fiber and a reasonable source of potassium. Alternatives topping corn with herbs, lime-juice, or a touch of oil and vinegar, as a healthy alternative to high-fat butter.

This food has been popular all over India in various forms including fried, roasted, or marinated. Recent studies have found it to be good as an anti-carcinogenic, anti-convulsant, and valuable in reducing cholesterol. Ayurveda uses it as a heart tonic, and appetite stimulant, and a mild laxative and diuretic, and for diabetes.

Loaded with health benefits, garlic has been around for centuries. Garlic has been found to lower LDL "bad" cholesterol and raise HDL "good" cholesterol. Garlic may also help to dissolve clots stuck in narrow arteries that can trigger heart attacks and strokes. Garlic is sometimes called the poor man's antibiotic, as it can inhibit or kill several kinds of bacteria, including staphyloccous and salmonella, as well as many fungi and yeast. Garlic is also being studied as a cancer fighter, adding to its benefits. To ward off the infamous garlic breath, try chewing on fresh parsley, mint, cloves, or cardamom!

A tropical fruit native to the Caribbean, the guava is shaped like a large lemon or lime but has an exotic taste. It also has a load of nutrients. With one of the highest fiber contents, including pectin, which lowers blood-cholesterol levels, guava is loaded with vitamin C, and more potassium than an orange. Top your frozen desserts with guavas, add to fruit shakes or fruit salad, and you can lower your cholesterol and blood-pressure levels.

Lemons & Limes
First cultivated in China, Japan and India lemons and limes are rarely eaten alone, but add flavor to variety of dishes, as well as used to tenderize meats. Like any citrus fruit, they are an excellent source of the disease-fighting antioxidant vitamin C. Lemons and limes therefore fight several diseases, including cancer and heart disease. They are also a great source of potassium. In addition, the two contain phytochemicals such as terpenes and limonenes that also fight cancer.

Rich in taste, nutrients, as well as history, remnants of lentils have been found in ancient Egyptian tombs, and are mentioned in the Bible. Lentils are high in protein, are packed with fiber, and contain many other important nutrients, including folic acid, niacin, potassium, zinc, and iron. Fiber helps to lower blood cholesterol, and folic acid can prevent birth defects. A balanced vegan diet includes both rice and lentils (or beans) as both are needed to form a complete protien set.

When it comes to lettuce, the darker the more nutritious. The darker leaves of Romaine and red leaf lettuce offer more health benefits than the pale leaves of iceberg. Lettuce can help battle disease with vitamins A and C, folic acid, potassium and even a bit of calcium. While lettuce is a staple in salads, it can also be used as a wrap in Thai appetizer dishes.

Sometimes known as the "fruit of India" - the Mango is one of the most nutritious fruits in the world! Mangos are great preventative medicine. With lots of A-based beta carotene, mangos can help to prevent cancer. Make mangos part of your prevention plan during the next cold season as well, they're loaded with vitamin C too! Mangos also provide several B vitamins, as well as calcium and magnesium.

Okra's unique mucilaginous juice - a perfect thickener for gumbo - makes okra a great source of fiber, which can help reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. The insoluble half of the fiber is good for the intestinal tract. Okra's B6, folic acid, calcium, magnesium and manganese are especially important vitamins for women. The calcium, magnesium and manganese all fight osteoporosis. Also, the potassium in okra can keep high blood pressure at bay.

Egyptians worshipped the onion's many layers as a symbol of eternity. The many varieties of onions all have similar anti-cancer, cholsterol-lowering properties. Onions may also play a role in preventing blood clots and alleviating allergy and asthma symptoms. Vitamin A, a valuable antioxidant, is found in green onions.

The nutrient-dense papaya has more vitamin C than an orange, more vitamin A than an apricot and more potassium than a banana. Vitamin A and C both show promise in reducing the risk of cancer, heart disease and cataracts. The potassium in papayas offers protection against high blood pressure. Interesting note: The mass of peppery-tasting black seeds in the center of the papaya are an excellent addition to salad dressing.

A fantastic source of vitamins A and C (especially red peppers), a single pepper packs a full day's requirement of these valuable antioxidants. Capsaicin is what gives peppers their zing, and may help prevent migraines, heart attacks and strokes. Note: research has shown that peppers do not cause or irritate ulcers.

With the exception of vitamin A, potatoes have just about every nutrient, including fiber, vitamin C, iron, copper, potassium and magnesium. Potatoes help to promote a healthy heart, and health blood pressure levels.

In addition to being a great side dish with Indian food, rice is a great complex carbohydrates; and enriched rice is a good source of several B vitamins. Brown rice offers three times the fiber of white rice, and the rice bran from brown rice lowers cholesterol. White rice raises blood glucose rapidly and almost efficiently as glucose in a glucose tolerance test.

An excellent plant-based source of protein, soybeans are a key ingredient in vegetarian foods. The isoflavones in tofu have anti-estrogen effects, which may help to prevent breast cancer tumors. Asian women have a relatively low risk of developing breast cancer. Also, the protein in soybeans is thought to reduce the risk of heart disease, and include the important omega-3 fatty acid.

Sree's redefines the taste of spinach. Even long-time spinach haters will find Sree's spinach dishes quite palatable. Loaded with vitamin A, spinach can help prevent cataracts. Raw spinach is loaded with vitamin C, but note that it is eliminated when overcooked.

Rich in beta-carotene (vitamin A) and several B vitamins, the Sree's use several types of squash in their traditional Indian dishes and chutneys.

Tofu is a great replacement for meat and dairy. Since it is made from soybeans, its nutritional values are similar. It is an excellent source of protein, low in sodium, cholesterol-free, and very low in saturated fat. Like soybeans, tofu contains anti-estrogen compounds that help to prevent breast cancer. If tofu is made with calcium sulfate, it is also a great source of calcium.

Tomatoes, which are actually a fruit not a vegetable, are one of the best sources of vitamin C. Tomatoes contribute to your overall intake of antioxidants and beta-carotene in the form of vitamins C and A. Tomatoes also offer potassium. Tomatoes fall into three basic varieties - cherry, plum, and round slicing. The best tasting generally are vine-ripened varieties, and the best for sauce are plum.