Why poha is better than idli for breakfast, especially for diabetics

Given our morning rush and the need to have an energy-rich breakfast that can be prepared quickly, poha or flattened rice proves to be the best choice, especially for diabetics. Blood sugar friendly, lactose free, gluten free, heart healthy, fat free, Poha ticks all the boxes.


Poha is the best breakfast food because it’s about 70 percent healthy carbohydrates and 30 percent fat. “Its fiber content allows the sugar to be released into the bloodstream slowly and steadily, rather than causing an unexpected jump, thereby avoiding sudden spikes. So if you want to fuel up for the day, poha is better suited than rice, idli or dosa. Plus, you get a healthy dose of carbs without worrying about the heaviness and sluggishness that other rice products can induce,” says Debjani Banerjee, Incharge Dietetics, PSRI Hospital, New Delhi.

“Both are probiotics and high in B vitamins. But poha has high iron and calcium content compared to idli. It also has a much lower glycemic index than rice idli,” says Dr. Geethu Salan, Chief Dietitian, Jothydev’s Diabetes and Research Center, Thiruvananthapuram. Rice is parboiled before flattening, so it can be consumed with very little to no cooking.

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“Because it’s cooked alongside a range of vegetables like peas, cauliflower, beans, carrots, cilantro and even crunchy peanuts, it makes your plate more nutritious and filling. It’s a flexible meal option and includes a nutritious punch,” says Banerjee.

Lies comfortably on the stomach

Poha is very light on the stomach and easy to digest. Therefore, it can be taken either as a first meal in the morning or as a light supper in the evening. “Poha will never cause bloating and will keep you fuller for longer. It’s also fairly low in calories. A bowl of cooked vegetable poha is only about 250 calories, along with an array of essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. The presence of curry leaves makes poha heart-healthy,” advises Banerjee. Adding some peanuts to the mix can increase the number of calories in the meal and be a good source of antioxidants and protein. So if you’re overweight, you might want to skip them.

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Poha is considered a probiotic. “During processing, it is fermented. This preserves good bacteria and promotes intestinal health. It contains large amounts of iron, making it a healthy option for people with iron deficiency anemia,” says Dr. Salan. Desi and Red Poha are rich in essential minerals such as Zinc, Iron and Potassium which are essential for overall health. Zinc helps with immunity and metabolism, iron is necessary for growth, and potassium promotes fluid balance.

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Poha is a versatile dish and can be served in many forms. dr Salan suggests the following:

Poha upma: It is a commonly eaten dish. Poha Upma can be made nutritious by adding nuts, vegetables and legumes such as green peas. Squeeze some lime juice on top as well, as it’s high in vitamin C, which helps absorb iron. This dish is a great choice for all ages.

Aval Nanachathu: Poha mixed with jaggery and coconut. This iron-rich snack is a healthy option for kids.

Poha with cottage cheese: Poha soaked in water and then strained. Cottage cheese is added with table salt and eaten with mango or lemon pickles.

Dahi Churaa: Poha mixed with ripe banana, yogurt and sugar. Although it is an “anytime” snack, it is also traditionally eaten by farmers during the rice-growing season.


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