Indians need to be reminded of the myriad benefits of traditional drinks like thandai

It's no doubt a panacea for many ailments.

 |  Hello, Health  |  4-minute read |   20-03-2017
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Drinking thandai during Holi got me thinking. Why do we even bother with the bottled drinks, the fizzy liquids are laden with chemicals and preservatives, and sugar!

Especially when our traditional drinks are not only tastier, but also extremely good for health.

Besides thandai, there’s a lot more to choose from: kanji, aam panna, shikanjavi, kokum, phalsa and bael sherbets, jaljeera, butter milk or chaach, sol kadi (a refreshing Konkani drink with a hint of kokum and a light coconut base), neera (sweet palm nectar from Tamil Nadu), Mandia Pej (a fermented drink made with ragi powder and boiled rice water from Orissa), Buransh from Uttarakhand (made from the flowers of rhododendron).

Let's get to thandai: delicious without doubt. Don’t know anyone who doesn’t love with this nutty, milky concoction.

thandai6-spicesnflav_032017045621.jpg Get cracking.

But the fact is that it is actually good for health too simply because the cool and spiced milk is a mix of so many healthful ingredients that the benefits it offers are simply mind-boggling.

It’s cooling!

Thandai in Hindi literally means something that is cold or something that cools and is an intrinsically cooling drink that rehydrates instantly.

That is perhaps why it is an apt Holi symbol; the festival falls during the winter to summer transition juncture.

It cools from inside and serves as an instant energiser in the scorching summer heat, which is raring to wreak havoc soon.

It’s a medley of ingredients that are great on their own, but together they deliver a potent health kick.

thandai-milk_032017045740.jpg Milk in all its goodness makes thandai. 

The base is milk, the benefits of which (calcium, protein etc) are well-known.

Advantages of peppercorn are enormous, as I have detailed here.

Then there are fennel seeds in it — a concentrated source of minerals like copper, potassium, calcium, zinc, manganese,vitamin C, iron, selenium and magnesium.

Plus, they protect against indigestion, flatulence and constipation. I feel this spice deserves a post of its own (soon!).

peppercorn-3_032017045848.jpg Pepper up. 

Watermelon seeds, again are a minefield of nutrients; two very important ones are magnesium — great for our heart’s health and folate — essential for the brain's well-being.

It is also a good source of both monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids, which help whisk off bad cholesterol from the body. Similarly, poppy seeds (also known as khus khus) deliver some calcium, iron and zinc.

Some people add some pumpkin seeds too, which are high in omega 3-rich fatty acids.

Cardamom or elaichi (which some recipes call for) help combat nausea, acidity, bloating, gas, heartburn, loss of appetite and constipation.

elaaichi_032017045811.jpg Cardamom works wonders for the stomach.

Plus the essential oils in elaichi strengthen the mucosal lining of the stomach and help cut acidity to size too.

Sliced almonds (and/or pistachios) are added to it usually, both fabulous antioxidant-loaded nuts.

Rose petals are an excellent detoxifying ingredient and also provide relief from insomnia and nervous weakness.

Finally, saffron known as the golden spice helps prevent indigestion, flatulence, baldness as well as treat blood pressure.

It is also a vision corrector, and loaded with antioxidants that help bust free radicals known to be the major cause for multiple Gen-X lifestyle diseases.

saffrroon_032017045900.jpg Mix saffron, the golden spice, in thandai.

Thandai is no doubt a panacea for ailments. The spices and dry fruits in it make it a great immune booster, and give it special digestive properties, improving bowel movement and helping the body detox naturally.

Be careful

Now we need to talk about bhang and sugar.

Bhang in small amounts helps relieve anxiety and cut fatigue.

It also boosts appetite, but used in excess, its ill-effects can be many — it increases the heart rate that causes psychosis and high blood pressure, and may also lower your metabolic rate.

thandai.-photo-parag_032017045930.jpg It's better to have Thandai without Bhang. Photo: Instagram/Parag Borisagar



pisttaa_032017050510.jpg Finish with khus seeds and pista.

Besides, of course, well-publicised side-effects like disorientation and hallucinations.

It’s better to have thandai without it.

We all already know the ill effects of excess sugar, so don't go overboard with it.

And, finally, it is best to make thandai fresh (instead of buying the bottled variety) as this way you can control the ingredients and get the most benefit.

And while we are at it, let me implore you to give other traditional drinks a serious thought too! They can do our body a lot of good.

Also read: Food and fitness goals that don't make you work hard to lose weight


Kavita Devgan Kavita Devgan @kavitadevgan

The writer is a nutritionist, weight management consultant and health writer based in Delhi. She is the author of Don't Diet! 50 Habits of Thin People (Jaico).

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