There is no denying that malt based drinks are a common ‘health food drinks’ in most houses today as has been for a few decades now. There are enticing ads claiming the benefits of these health drinks and how it is nutritious for your growing child. There are ads all over in News Papers, Magazines, TV and even online.
The other day, I was watching one such TV commercial that was promoting a malt based drink. The commercial in its usual enticing style of selling the product mentioned, the malt powder when added to milk – improves the quality of the milk. I kept wondering what is in that powder that helps them improve the nutritive value of Milk.
Out of curiosity to understand more, I went through couple of food labels of malt based milk drinks, I realised that most of these powders have a cereal base (any flour including wheat flour), soy, milk powder, loads of sugar, a flavouring agent like cocoa powder, and some vitamins and minerals.
These ads are so welcoming that most give in and buy the product. And, they don’t come cheap. They cost approximately Rs 300-Rs. 500 per kg. But, do we actually need to spend so much for just a cereal based powder with so much of sugar, colour and preservatives? And do they actually improve the quality of milk? How many of us know if these claims that have been made are true? Are these ‘health’ drinks truly healthy?
The ads claim that these health drinks helps absorb calcium from milk. Well, the truth is sugar hinders absorption of calcium and also depletes phosphorus. And, most of these powders contain loads of sugar.
The most common query I have come across while dealing with children, adolescence and a few adults too is they don’t like plain milk or are worried that whether plain milk would be sufficient. Hence, I have come up with few healthy options that will increase the nutritive value of milk and a few tasty options which make the milk taste better.
- Saffron: – Saffron milk is traditional milk in Indian families used only during special occasions, due to the high cost of saffron. The benefits of saffron are just as rich as the spice itself. It prevents cancer, helps in puberty in undernourished girls and helps grow healthy hair and skin. If this milk is had on a daily basis, it develops immunity, it prevents common cold and cough.
- Chestnut (Singhara) powder– The Potassium rich Chestnuts not only good for people with high blood pressure and heart patients but, are also very useful for pregnant women. They give a feeling of fullness hence also helps in weight loss. I enjoy adding chestnut powder during summer in my glass of milk as it gives cooling effect and prevents back pain.
- Turmeric: – Curcumin rich turmeric milk is one of the oldest and the best grandma’s recipes. It is the best home remedy for cold and cough. One cannot deny the benefits that turmeric milk gives as against antibiotic pills? In the west, Curcumin tablets have become a big craze and people are paying a bomb to buy and consume these tablets. On the other hand in India, turmeric is an integral ingredient in every kitchen. Let’s have yellow milk, to fight infections, body pains or just to feel fresh.
- Oats: – This fibre rich cereal is always suggested in my diets for people who just have milk for their breakfast. Adding on oats completes the meals by combining the good quality protein that is present in milk with high fibre carbohydrates. Adding a fruit or dry fruits to oats porridge is like a cherry on cake.
- Almonds and Pistachio powder: –Almond Milk (Badamdhoodh), just like saffron,also has traditional value to it. You also find these flavors in the market powders too. However, they come with lot of synthetic flavors. Instead, it takes just a few minutes to powder almonds and pistachios and the full packet of a kilo gets ready for a month’s use. The benefits of these dry fruits are known to most. They benefit people of all age group, from children to old age. The impact of it on brain and memory boosting makes it my favorite family drink.
- Dark cocoa: – Those who have been bought up with common chocolate flavoured milk find it a little tough to shift to other flavours. Hence, opting for a dark cocoa powder would be a healthy option. Dark Cocoa has a lot of antioxidants that boost cardio vascular health.
- Ragi – This one is my son’s favourite option as he always misunderstands it as chocolate milk. This calcium rich cereal is naturally a little sweet, and gives a perfect chocolate brown colour to the milk. Point to note- Use a small quantity (1 tsp. in 1 cup milk) of this flour as it is a thickening agent and the milk may get lumpy if used in a large quantity. Ragi porridge is a perfect drink for growing kids, pregnant women and elderly.
- Fruit– Milk can be an enjoyable drink at any time by preparing it as a milkshake. Those who find it boring to chew a fruit on daily basis can surely combine it with milk. For weight watchers, combine milk with fruits like watermelon, apple or kiwi whereas weight gainers can go for some high sugar fruits like mango, banana, figs etc.
- Dates: – Now this option is for sweet addicts who do not find any other options palatable because of lack of sweetness. They can freely use dates to sweeten their milk. This would be a very healthy post work out meal and filling snacks for young children.
You can also combine 2 options together, for eg:- A fruit/dry fruits and oats or pop in some flax seed powder in your singhara powder.
So if you find these options convenient for your daily milk dose, then dump those so called ‘Health Drink’ powders and “GO ALL NATURAL”.