With Navratri, a 9-day fasting festival, on in full swing, people must also focus on fulfilling their nutritional needs. There are many fasting foods that people eat during Navratri and Amaranth grains, or popularly known as chaulai, rajgira or ramdana, is one such famous fasting food that has many health benefits!
I have often run to the market during this festival to get chaulai ke ladoos for my fasting parents. They’ll have it with milk or tea and munch on these healthy sweet treats made with jaggery. Chaulai is a superfood with many health benefits and a perfect fasting food item. It is often compared to oats and cereals like quinoa and is in no way behind in the nutritional value.
Chaulai are grains obtained from a flowering plant called Amaranth. The leaves of Amaranth are known to have medicinal properties and its flowers are used in decoration. The grains or seeds obtained from this plant are chaulai.
A 2012 study cited by the National Library of Medicine, lists the many health benefits of chaulai. According to the study, chaulai helps in decreasing plasma, cholesterol levels, stimulating the immune system, exerting an antitumor activity, reducing blood glucose levels and improving conditions of hypertension and anemia. It also possesses anti-allergic and antioxidant powers.
Benefits of Amaranth grains or chaulai:
1. Great for bone health
Chaulai is a very rich source of calcium. Milk has been known to top the calcium charts but you will be shocked to know that Amaranth grains have twice as much calcium. “When eaten in raw form its vitamin C content enhances the calcium absorption,” says Dr Anjali Sharma, a nutritionist. She further adds that calcium helps in strengthening our bones and can also help prevent diseases such as osteoporosis.
2. Promotes weight loss
Chaulai is extremely high in dietary fiber and protein content. Various studies have proven that foods rich in fiber and protein are great for weight loss. Also, the high fiber content helps us feel fuller for a longer time period which makes it a perfect fasting and weight loss food.
3. Boosts immunity
Amaranth grains are a powerhouse of Vitamin C which helps in the repair and production of white blood cells which boosts our immunity. “Chaulai is also rich in other minerals like potassium, magnesium, zinc and hence, is the best food for boosting the immunity, especially during viral infections,” says Dr Sharma.
4. Good for anemic patients
“Amaranth grains are a very rich source of minerals, especially iron and they are also the richest source of vitamin B and K which is most recommended for anemic patients,” says Dr Sharma. Chaulai increases blood production due to its high iron content.
5. Good for diabetics
People suffering from diabetes have two main concerns: obesity and increased blood sugar levels and chaulai helps in dealing with both these problems. Studies have shown that flour made from amaranth grains have properties of lowering insulin levels and controlling blood sugar which makes it a superfood for the diabetics too.