Onam, or the harvest festival celebrated in Kerala is marked by feasting upon the Sadya, a large meal comprising over 25 dishes made from local and seasonal ingredients. The Sadya meal is wholesome and nourishing and packed with nutrients. Read on below to know more about some of the health benefits of the Sadya meal.
Onam, the annual harvest festival celebrated across Kerala, is a 10-day-long extravaganza that marks the reign of the just and noble King Mahabali who is once said to have ruled this province. The celebrations of Onam also symbolise the bountiful, lush-green fields of the region ripe with the abundant harvest of the season. Of the festivities, what stands out during Onam is the feast of Sadya, a meal comprising as many as 25 dishes, indeed fit for a king.
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This southern Indian repast filled with the goodness of fresh produce and vibrant vegetables is gorged on during the festive season to mark as much the festival as the seasonal foods that grow abundantly during this period. The repast then undoubtedly is packed with flavour but also brims with many nutrients that make for a very healthy and nourishing meal.
The Onam Sadya consists of dishes like the kalan, a mix of sweet potatoes, yams and other veggies as well as the olan made from white gourd. The avvaiyal is another favoured food made with a mix of vegetables and coconut milk, and then there's the kootu curry made from chickpeas. Each of these foods, rich in fibre, protein and nutrients, has numerous health benefits and can prove extremely nourishing if had in moderation. Read on below to know more about some of the health benefits of the Sadya meal:
Rich Source Of Complex Carbs
The Onam Sadya meal consists of sweet treats like parippu payasam made from dal, jaggery and coconut milk which becomes a healthy source of complex carbs. Low in GI and high in energy, a little bit of the payasam and some sweet potato curry are excellent sources of carbs which will provide the body with energy without increasing calorie count.
High In Protein
The chickpeas and dals used in many preparations including sambar, rasam and the kootu curry are excellent sources of second-class protein that fulfil the necessary requirement of this food group in any vegetarian repast. During festive season, indulging in sweets might lower protein intake, however the Onam Sadya stands out for presence of a high amount of protein on the plantain leaf on which it is served.
Excellent Source Of Fibre
The white gourds, yams, sweet potatoes and other vegetables which go into the Sadya meal are fibrous foods that help to boost gut health and cleanse the digestive system. Indulge in the Sadya feast in moderation to make the most of the rich fibrous foods that fortify gut bacteria by enhancing the growth of healthy flora.
Rich In Antioxidants
Making the Sadya meal involves adding a load of spices like turmeric, hing, chillies and other condiments to every dish that are good sources of antioxidants. Such a meal helps to relieve the body of harmful toxins, minimises free radical damage and nourishes the body to ward off the threat of infectious diseases.
Nutritionists and dieticians have often advocated the merits of the Sadya meal filled with many micro and macro nutrients that promote healthy functioning of several organ systems in the body. Foods like the chakkara varatti, made from ginger and jaggery are beneficial for increasing haemoglobin count in the body, enhancing the production of healthy blood cells and promoting blood purification.
The presence of several fruits and veggies in dishes like pachadi, akin to a khichdi, make it a rich source of vitamins. Beetroot pachadi contains folic acid, zinc, vitamin A and electrolytes like potassium and magnesium whereas rice with bran is also a good source of complex B vitamins including thiamine and riboflavin. All these provide essential micro nutrients that maintain pH levels in the body and promote the smooth functioning of other systems like eye sight and skin health.
Source Of Healthy Fats
Many of the dishes in the Onam Sadya meal are cooked in coconut oil and coconut milk which are sources of medium-chain triglycerides or MCTs. These healthy fats help to boost the production of ketone in the liver and prevent the formation of unhealthy stores that can lead to conditions like non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
The foods rich in antioxidants and folates help to rid the body of toxins automatically having an anti-inflammatory effect. Dishes like the olan which is made from white gourd act as a laxative that clears the system. The spices in the foods help to act on tissue swelling that also inhibits infection and resulting inflammation.