Indian Foods: The good, the bad and the ugly

Dr. Priyanka Marakini

July 5, 2019

Food prepared across India is as diverse as the country itself. Influences of soil type, climate, culture, ethnic groups, and occupations are evident in the various cuisines across the country. For example, Middle Eastern and Central Asian influences, from the Mughal rule, are still seen in North Indian cuisine. Similarly, the food in different parts of India varies accordingly. Here, we take a look at some healthy and unhealthy Indian foods.

Top 5 Healthy Indian Foods

Indian foods are rich in protein and carbohydrates, that make up an important part of a balanced diet. While there are plenty of traditional foods that are healthy, we have listed the most popular ones below:

Green Gram Dosa

Made up of green gram (moong dal), rather than split black gram (urad dal), green gram dosa is much healthier than the regular dosa. Packed with protein and easily digestible, it also contains manganese, copper, potassium, zinc, and vitamin B. In addition to all this, a single green gram dosa adds on only 59 calories.

Green gram dosa Indian food

Palak Raita with skim curd

Curd is a summer favourite, mainly because of its cooling properties. Add spinach to it, and it becomes a lot healthier. The dish has several health benefits ranging from skin to digestive health. To top it all off, 1 katori of the raita has only 66 calories.

Wheat Daliya with mixed vegetables

Daliya is amongst the healthier breakfast cereals consumed throughout India. Wheat daliya is a great source of manganese and fiber. Using cracked wheat instead of regular wheat is ideal since it is not polished, and hence, more nutritious. Eating the same with mixed vegetables ensures lower consumption of calories making it good for weight loss too. One katori of wheat daliya, with mixed vegetables, accounts for 94 calories.


Pongal is a combination of rice and moong dal which ensures protein-carb balance. Light and easily digestible, pongal is also low in fat and calories. Homemade pongal, with limited ghee, can prove to be an especially healthy breakfast choice.

Pongal healthy Indian foods

Dal ki Roti

Roti is among India’s most commonly consumed foods. Dal ki roti is rich in proteins, soluble fiber, and carbohydrates, in addition to being low in calories. One roti accounts for about 97 calories.

Top 5 Unhealthy Indian Foods

On the flip side of the aforementioned healthy foods are a range of unhealthy foods. Here’s a list of commonly prepared Indian dishes that are best avoided:


Samosas are an extremely popular street food that unfortunately contains excess fats, and hence, can be problematic for the heart. Samosas made from reheated oil contain more trans fat, causing there to be higher risk. Moreover, they are high on calories with a single piece having 268 calories.

Samosa Indian food


A snack that is consumed across the country, pakoras are not necessarily the healthiest of Indian food available. One of the key drawbacks of this much-loved snack is the rise in LDL (or bad cholesterol) levels and the drop in HDL (or good cholesterol) levels. In addition to that, just 8 pakoras account for about 200 calories.

Vada Pav

Vada Pav is arguably the most popular dish in quite a few parts of the country. The addition of the bread (pav) to the vada only makes it unhealthier, since it is prepared from refined flour. Added to that, the fact that a single vada pav has 221 calories makes them a literal recipe for disaster.

Vada pav unhealthy foods


An extremely popular South Indian snack, medu vada is made from black gram lentils. A single vada contains as many as 226 calories, and the fact that they are fried makes it a worse option, with regard to one’s health.

Puri Bhaji

Puri Bhaji may be prepared by more than one method. While they are mostly in the form of boiled potatoes sautéed in spices, vegetables may be added to them as well. Regardless of the method of preparation, the puri can cause one’s LDL (or bad cholesterol) levels to rise up. A single plate of puri bhaji contains 311 calories.

The Indian cuisine is made up of both healthy and unhealthy foods. It is up to us to decide to eat right, and live healthily. Get in touch with a personal nutritionist, and make the right choice today!

About the Author

The holder of a Bachelor’s Degree in Naturopathy and Yogic Sciences, Dr. Priyanka has more than 7 years of experience in the field of health and wellness. Currently serving as a Sr. Nutritionist at HealthifyMe, she specializes in Weight Management, Lifestyle Modifications, and PCOS, Diabetes, and Cholesterol Management. In addition to being a Nutritionist, Dr. Priyanka is also a Fitness Enthusiast and a certified Zumba instructor. A strong believer in eating healthy, she is certain that the right kind of motivation can help an individual work wonders in their lives.

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