The new fat tax imposed by the Kerala state government has been in the news lately. The fat tax has been imposed on burgers, pizzas, French fries, doughnuts, etc served in quick service multinational restaurants. The idea is to curb the rising numbers in obesity in Kerala. Lots of discussions and debates are taking place on whether or not it’s a wise move.
In my opinion, it’s a first step in the right direction but needs much more thought, planning and better implementation. Imposing a tax only on a few high fat foods is not going to curb obesity. It might reduce the consumption of such foods by some people who cannot afford to pay the extra amount. However, there are many other foods made in our country (egs – namkeens, cookies, bakery items, etc) that are high in total fat or in trans fats, that are easily accessible to the public. How does one regulate them?
And what about the high sugar foods and beverages? Where do snacks and beverages made with high sugar, high fat and refined flour fit in?
The fat tax process needs to be more scientific, involving experts from the field of nutrition and health.
For many years, we believed that eating foods high in cholesterol & saturated fat increases the blood levels of cholesterol which in turn can spell trouble for the heart. So, butter, ghee, coconut oil, egg yolk (yellow), red meat, cheese, and other foods that contained either cholesterol or saturated fat were deleted from the shopping lists of many homes.
Then came studies that showed egg yolk didn’t raise blood cholesterol levels, in spite of containing high amounts of cholesterol. Of late, there’s a lot of talk on whether saturated fats raise blood cholesterol or not. Many studies are indicating that ghee, coconut oil and other sources of saturated fats are not as harmful as thought earlier. Trans fats and refined carbohydrates (sugar, maida, white bread and white rice) are the ones to watch out for.
Cholesterol is not a bad thing. It is an essential item and has many functions in the body. So, if you have any fear about cholesterol, please remove it from your minds.
Two days ago, I was listening to a talk by a very senior Swedish professor who basically trashed the information that cholesterol from foods and saturated fats can be harmful. He said that refined carbohydrates are the culprits causing damage to our health. He felt sad that many Indians have stopped using ghee, coconut and coconut oil. He encouraged the use of these foods. He also said that we use too much sunflower oil and should reduce it’s use. Increase protein intake through foods, include lots of vegetables and fruits, leave refined carbohydrates, was the advice given.
I agree with most of the points given by the professor. But we need to be careful of the quantity of fats that we use. Also whole grains like brown rice, atta, millets, are an important part of our meals.
Last weekend saw me in a restaurant that claims to serve only sattvic food, in Bangalore. I was curious to see and taste their variety of sattvic dishes. Unfortunately, the restaurant serves only buffet meals and no a la carte. So, small eaters will have to go there with a large appetite! Anyways, a lot of their starters and main course dishes appeared to be sattvic. I couldn’t really dissect each dish but by and large they were palatable. What surprised me were the desserts. While there was a section of Indian sweets (probably with sattvic ingredients), there was another section of pastries, tarts, creme caramel, cup cakes and a chocolate fountain! I’m not aware of the entire list of sattvic foods, but I don’t think maida (refined wheat flour / white flour) and refined sugar belong in the sattvic food group. To top it, there was a take-away counter selling only cakes and pastries under the same sattvic brand!
Well, to my knowledge, sattvic foods are those which are easy to digest, beneficial for the body and promote mental health and clarity of thought. Water, whole grains, pulses, dals, most vegetables, fruits, nuts, honey and raw dairy foods (unpasteurised, non-homogenised) fall into the sattvic group.
If any of you have more information on sattvic foods, please do share. Thank you.
I came across this information on the internet. Brazil has issued new dietary guidelines to its citizens. I’m writing about it in India because the guidelines can apply to our population as well –
The ten Brazilian guidelines:
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A friend of mine sent me an email about an article published by a US writer about how 4 foods accelerate aging. The 4 foods named in this article are wheat, corn, sugar and vegetable oils (like soybean, canola, etc). How factual is this information?
Wheat and corn do not accelerate aging, for sure. On the contrary, they provide us with nutrients that are essential for good health. Although gluten-free foods are becoming a rage in the West, the only persons who need to avoid wheat are those who are allergic or intolerant to wheat and its products. Perhaps gluten can be a topic for another discussion!
Sugar and oils accelerate aging only if taken in large quantities and / or replace healthy foods. Sugar consumption has gone up in urban India by large amounts. Sugar robs the body of some important nutrients which can be replaced only by eating healthy foods. In that sense, sugar can be a villain. Also, extra oil intake (especially the high PUFA ones) can tilt the fatty acid balance in the body and accelerate free radical damage. In that sense, some of the vegetable oils can be seen as villains.
The bottom line is reduce sugar and fat consumption, and there’s no need to avoid wheat and corn if you are not allergic to them.