‘Bleaching products used for processing maida are toxic to pancreas which secretes insulin’

Parotta is a popular evening meal it itself at many a home. Be it adults or children, everybody loves gorging on parottas.

Every family has a favourite paraotta stall among the many in their neighbour hood. The large number of parotta stalls and the demand for ‘parotta masters’ in the city points to the prominence of parotta in the diet of Madurai residents.

However, there is a word of caution for parotta lovers. Leading cardiologists in Madurai say it may be a mouth-watering dish but at the same time it also damages heart. The heart of the matter lies in the ‘maida’ which is said to be a wreak havoc on a healthy heart.

At a time when cardiac arrest and other heart diseases and diabetes are threatening the productive young population, these experts point to some hard truths about the fluffy and soft food stuff which arouses the taste buds but hinders the health condition of eaters.

“Parotta contains the purest form of carbohydrates and the maida flour with which it is prepared is an enemy to your heart. Eating it amounts to depositing fats and cholesterol straight into your body,” says R. Raghunathan, Head, Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery, Government Rajaji Hospital (GRH), here.

The colour of maida flour may look fair and fine when compared to wheat flour, but the process involved in its preparation shows how dangerous it is for vital organs such as heart and pancreas.

A. Madhavan, senior interventional cardiologist at Apollo Speciality Hospitals, who is also a Fellow of heart specialists certified by the Geneva-based World Heart Federation, says a chemical called alloxan, which gives the softness to maida flour could lead to diabetes and thereby cause heart problems in the long run.

“Majority of the people prefer parotta for its taste. But, remember that alloxan is dangerous to pancreas which regulates glucose/sugar in our body. It is advisable not to get bowled over by the taste alone. One must bear in mind the chemicals present in maida flour,” he cautions.

Bleaching products used for processing maida are toxic to pancreas which secretes insulin. The bleaching agents present in maida are used to produce diabetes in rodents and animals when tested in the laboratories.

Dr.Madhavan says it is high time Madurai’s obsession with parotta came to an end in view of increasing instances of child obesity, hypertension, early diabetes and heart attacks. “I think we can do a ‘Maida study in Madurai’ to come out with findings. Those who are regular parotta eaters and those who keep away from them can be studied,” he said.

Chief of Department of Cardiology at the GRH, R.A.Janarthanan, too joins in the campaign against parotta in view of its threat to heart.

“Lifestyle changes and mental stress are taking a heavy toll on our youngsters as many aged between 30 and 40 years are becoming heart patients. In such a case, the food we eat matters a lot and parotta is not good,” he says.

Absence of fibre content in maida is seen as a major negative factor in parotta. It gets aggravated because of the ‘saalna’ and side-dishes. Parotta has the capacity to shoot up your body sugar level, he says.

“One gram of carbohydrate gives nine calories of energy. Imagine the impact of a parotta which is full of only carbohydrates and especially when you do not do physical exercise. Parotta may be cheap but it will be costly for your heart,” cautions Dr.Raghunathan.

The parotta-diabetes heart link can be gauged from the current trends.

Even though there is no documentary evidence to say that maida is the actual villain, Dr.Madhavan says changing food habits will indeed damage the heart.

“Out of 10 master health check-ups I do, three persons are newly detected diabetes cases. When I tell them they have sugar, they are shocked to hear the news. So, right food at the right time is the right way,” he says.

N.Ganesan, cardiologist, Meenakshi Mission Hospital and Research Centre, says cardiac fitness is of utmost importance.

“Heart metabolic activity is vital. Every middle-aged man should walk 10,000 steps a day. I don’t mean climbing of steps, but a normal walking of 10,000 steps in a day,” he suggests.

According to him, preventive measures should begin at a young age. “Fifty per cent of heart problems crop up in those aged below 50 years, and 25 per cent of cases are reported before 40 years of age. So, you can understand the gravity of the situation,” says Dr.Ganesan.

Dr.Janarthanan advises people to choose healthy food such as idli, puttu and chapathi and lots of with fruits and vegetables.

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