India is known for its colorful, sumptuous cuisine. Although dishes vary nutritionally, many of the country's staples are high in fiber -- an indigestible carbohydrate that promotes digestive function, a healthy heart, blood sugar balance and weight control. For optimum health, MayoClinic.com recommends at least 21 to 25 grams of fiber per day for women and at least 20 to 38 daily grams for men. For specified guidance, consult a registered dietitian.
Legumes -- such as beans, lentils and split peas -- are top fiber sources. Just 1 cup of cooked lentils provides 15.6 grams of fiber. Cooked kidney beans provide about 14 grams per cup. They are prevalent in Indian cuisine, particularly in the form of dal -- the common term for a lentil-based soup. Channa masala is a fiber-rich Indian dish made with curry spices and chickpeas. Kidney bean curry, or rajma chawal, is also high in fiber.
Brown Basmati Rice
Many Indian dishes are served with basmati rice -- an aromatic whole grain. Although white basmati rice is more common, brown basmati rice contains more fiber. A half-cup of cooked brown basmati rice provides 4 grams of fiber. The same size portion of white rice provides less than 1 gram. Indian rice pilaf, also called pilau, contains more fiber in the form of nuts, mixed vegetables such as carrots and peas and dried fruit such as raisins.
Green vegetables add flavor, color and nutrients to a broad range of Indian dishes. Dishes with the word "saag" in the name -- which means spinach -- are particularly fiber-rich because cooked spinach provides more than 4 grams of fiber per cup. Examples include channa saag, with chickpeas; saag paneer, a dish made with spinach and cubed Indian cheese; and saag curry. Dishes containing "matta," the Hindi word for peas, are fiber-rich. Many Indian restaurants also offer leafy green salads as an appetizer or side dish.
Whole Wheat Breads
Indian breads are made by cooking dough on a griddle or grill, known as a tandoor. Breads made with chapati flour, which derives from whole wheat, are fiber-rich meal components. Whole wheat flat breads typically contain about 2.5 grams of fiber per serving, depending on the size. White breads, on the other hand, contain negligible amounts. For added fiber, choose whole wheat breads containing potatoes, such as aloo parathas. Other whole wheat Indian breads include plain parathas, chapatis and tandoori rotis.
August McLaughlin is a health and sexuality writer, podcast host and author of “Girl Boner: The Good Girl’s Guide to Sexual Empowerment” (Amberjack Publishing, 2018). Her articles appear in DAME Magazine, Cosmopolitan.com, the Huffington Post and more, and she loves connecting with readers through her blog and social media. augustmclaughlin.com