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How healthy is our humble chapati?

By Dhruv Gupta
Last updated on: November 20, 2014 17:00 IST
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Call it roti or call it chapati, it has been made the same way for hundreds of years and continues to be a staple in many Indian diets.

But is the roti or chapati really healthy?

It depends -- on what it’s made with and how it’s made.

The traditional roti is made from ground whole wheat, and is roasted on a pan, or in an oven. This roti is healthy. It has got soluble fibre to help clean the plaque from your blood vessels, plenty of complex carbs to give you sustained energy, proteins to help build and maintain muscle and almost no fat (till you add ghee to it).

It has a low glycemic index, so it doesn’t make your blood sugar shoot up and then crash.

Some people are allergic to gluten, so for them roti can be made from bajra.

Again, very healthy -- contains fibre, complex carbohydrates, protein and is low in fat content. Apart from that, you can make roti at home using jowar, millets or any other healthy refined grain to enjoy the goodness of whole grains.

But watch out if your rotis are being made from maida.

Maida is refined flour and has the same effect on your body as sugar -- makes you fat.

Rotis can also be made from black chickpea flour. To add flavour, you can chop up cooked vegetables and mix them with the atta -- like spinach, carrot, etc.

Roti can be fattening, if you load it with ghee and oil.

Some people might argue that with the variety of whole grain breads coming in the market, they can very well substitute the traditional roti. But that is not the case.

No matter what kind of bread you are using, it will contain yeast, which can create digestion problem for some people. Whereas, the dough for roti is made without using yeast, making it healthier then breads.

Studies might have proved that the whole grains bread can give you the wholesome goodness of a roti. But the fact remains that these breads contain preservatives. Also these whole grain breads cost you more than your regular white bread.

Roti Trivia: Roti is a common term used for bread in many countries like Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand. But they’re not the same rotis.

In Thailand, the roti is actually a pancake, made from maida, and fried and loaded with goodies, like fruits, honey, condensed milk, etc. :-)

Photograph: apercoco/Wikimedia Commons

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Dhruv Gupta