Parotta, wrong recipe for your heart

HOT AND TASTY, BUT LIFE-THREATENING:Cardiologists advise people, especially the middle-aged, to avoid 'Parotta' for healthy heart.— Photo: S. James  

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

Parotta is a popular dish in almost every home. Be it among the adults or children, it is always on the must have list. Its taste and flavour, combined with salna attracts all. The mushrooming parotta stalls and the demand for ‘parotta masters’ in the city reveals the prominent a role it plays in the dietary habits of the people.

However, there is a word of caution for parotta lovers from leading cardiologists in Madurai who say that it may be a mouth-watering dish but at the same it is also heart damaging. The heart of the matter lies in the ‘maida’ which is said to be a wrong recipe for a healthy heart.

At a time when heart attacks, cardiac diseases and diabetes are threatening the productive young population, heart experts have revealed some hard truths about the fluffy soft parotta which gives arouses the taste buds but puts the health of the eater at risk.

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

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 parts 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, explained that the chemical Alloxan which is used to give 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 by the taste alone but also 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 experimental creatures such as rodents/animals.

Dr.Madhavan says that it is time to end the obsession with parotta in view of increasing 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 that can be screened,” he said.

Chief of Department of Cardiology at the GRH, R.A.Janarthanan, too joins in a campaign against parotta wave in view of its threat to heart. “Lifestyle changes and mental stress are taking a heavy toll on our youngsters as many youngsters between 30 and 40 years of age 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 even more aggravated because of the side-dishes or paraphernalia that accompany it such as ‘salna.’ Parotta has the capacity to shoot up your body sugar level.

“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 sufficient physical exercises. 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 that 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 get shocked. So, right food at right time is the right way,” he tells.

N.Ganesan, cardiologist, Meenakshi Mission Hospital and Research Centre, says that cardiac fitness is of utmost importance these days. “Heart metabolic activity is vital. Every middle-aged man should walk for 10,000 steps a day. I don’t mean climbing of steps, but a regular normal walking of 10,000 steps during the entire day, between morning and night,” he suggests.

According to him, prevention aspects can begin at young age itself. “Fifty per cent of heart problems crop up in persons below 50 years of age and 25 per cent of cases are reported before 40 years of age. So, you can understand the gravity of the situation,” Dr.Ganesan.

The message from Dr.Janarthanan was that people should go for healthy food such as idli, puttu and chapathi while following nutritional balance with fruits and vegetables.

Next time, you order for a parcel of ‘chilly parotta’ or ‘kothu parotta’, think twice because it can parcel off your heart and pancreas.

More In