Healthier, Tastier, Better for you?
I was walking through the atta (flour) aisle of my local Indian supermarket when an atta bag marked as Multi-Grain, Diabetic Atta, boasting a new slogan of “Sugar Release Control” grabbed my attention.
I lifted the heavy bag to check the label to see what was in this new product and if it really was healthier. To my dismay, I found in the ingredients list mostly genetically modified (GMO) wheat flour, along with processed Soy (defatted soy flour), oat flour, besan (gram flour) and token amount of methi (a herb that actually does help with sugar management)
Net-net this “Sugar Release Control” atta was 96% processed carbohydrates, which is never a good sign, especially if you are diabetic, pre-diabetic, or trying to loose or manage weight, and decided to put the Aashirvaad Sugar Control atta back on the shelf.
A common trend among big name food companies has been to turn their typically unhealthy foods into seemingly healthier alternatives to attract the increasingly better informed public with misinformation. Aashirvaad atta is manufactured by ITC, where the T stands for Tobacco, a company that masterfully honed its marketing skills selling cigarettes .
Wheat atta and rotis are staple in most households and alone can contribute to 100- 300 gms of carbohydrates per day! Recommended level of total daily carb intake for South Asian’s is 100 gms. Dr Ron Sinha discusses in his blog Carb Trafficking the risk of high carb diets.
So I wanted to dig in and find out what healthy atta and roti options are there for the consumer?
First a bit of food geek talk.
Low Carb and Good Fats – The best combination
- Consumers are looking for low-carb foods because low carb meals are proven to help you lose fat and significantly decrease chronic heart and diabetes health risk.
- In fact, Low Carb + High Good Fat combination works better. A large study conducted by Harvard School of Public Health and Nutrition concluded that for every 25g of carbohydrate you substitute in your daily diet with 10g of good fats – unsaturated fats – like you find in almonds, avocados or fish, you will reduce your risk of cardio-metabolic diseases by 30%.
- In a systematic review of 22 studies published in Journal of American College of Nutrition concluded that foods high in carbs can cause health risks such as fatty liver disease, increased insulin production (which can worsen diabetes), development of metabolic syndrome, and obesity, but the truth is that asking an Indian to never eat roti again, is like telling a Texan not to eat a burger again. It’s just not going to happen. So we need to find tasty, healthy low carb roti or atta options
Lets Dig In!
I selected two attas and two rotis to compare, analyze and taste the four options/brands.
- Two leading Atta brands –
- Aashirvaad Multi Grain Atta and 24X7 Mantra Organic Multi Grain.
- Two Roti Brands –
I used the following criteria to evaluate how healthy these options are for your families.
- Total Amount of Carbohydrates per roti. Higher the carbs, the less nutrient dense is your food.
- Total Amount of Good Fats per roti. This is a key to any healthy food. I am heartened to see increased recognition of this fact. Indian Current magazine, recently mentioned “… Contrary to popular belief, it is not dietary fat that makes you fat, it is excessive consumption of carbohydrate-rich foods.”
- How Pure is the Food? i.e How much added chemicals, sugar, fiber or preservatives are in your roti?
- Are the ingredients Organic? especially, the main ingredients, i.e no pesticide and chemical fertilizers.
- The strain of wheat being used – Over the last 40 years wheat has been aggressively genetically modified to give higher yields, resulting in increased chronic inflammation across the population. So rotis made from non-GMO wheat or ancient wheats are healthier. Plus is it whole wheat or refined wheat, ancient strain or modern wheat ?
- Amount of inflammation causing additives – Soy additives, cellulose, Industrial Oils – like Canola, Palm, Sunflower
DNA Take Away
- Ensure your packaged food is 100% Natural. Avoid rotis and atta that contain ingredients that you would not keep in your kitchen. Do you cook using Defatted Soya, cellulose fiber or Calcium Propionate? NO! So why allow others to put it in your food!!
- Ensure your packaged food is not only low carb, but rich in good natural fats. i.e not from oils.
- The best solution is to ELIMINATE additives in your diet and avoid products with cellulose, soya, oat, fiber additives or mono- and diglycerides listed in the ingredients, and to buy products from trustworthy, health-oriented sources.
Since then I tasted the two roti brands and rotis made from the two Atta brands.
GET FIT Roti is the clear winner both for its taste, purity and health quotient. It is conveniently delivered directly to consumers across the country. Shipping is FREE. They are available at select health oriented grocers in the Bay Area. It is more expensive. Not surprising considering they use higher quality organic ingredients; ancient wheats and nut flours are not cheap. But Health is Wealth!!
Ingredients: ORGANIC STONE GROUND WHEAT, ALMONDS, WATER, FLAX SEED (no peanuts)
Obviously my family has switched to Heart N Spice FIT Rotis!
Stay Informed. Stay Healthy!