Here's how green gram helped Keralites resist intellectual oppression

Dishes made of green gram are considered to be good for the brain.

Why were Red Indians in America plundered and almost wiped by Europeans while Keralites have survived rule by foreigners? It has something to do with the food habits, say scientists.

Similarly, the high literacy rates in Kerala have been attributed to the activities of missionaries, educationists and reformers. However, the real reason is again the food preferences of the state’s people, especially their liking for green gram, point out scientists.

‘Puttu’ (steamed rice cake with coconut) and green gram curry is the most popular breakfast in Kerala. For lunch, green gram ‘thoran’ (a coconut-based dish) is savoured along with rice. For supper, rice gruel and again green gram is favoured.

While 'vada' is a common snack in other states, Kerala, has made its own snack ‘sukhiyan’ also known as ‘modakam’. It is made of green gram, jaggery and coconut. The snack is not only tasty but healthy too.

In short, green gram is traditionally consumed by the people of Kerala several times a day. Researchers say that there is no better pulse than green gram to stimulate the brain. While the energy supplied by honey and milk keeps the intellectual capabilities alert for 3-5 hours, green gram can do it for up to 18 hours, according to scientific studies.

Carbohydrates, fats, fibres, Vitamin A and B, Calcium, Magnesium, Phosphorus and Sodium are present in green gram. When children are given green gram, they become more intelligent. Many mothers give their kids bakery products or biscuits as snacks; but if these items could be replaced with ‘sukhiyan’, a major difference could be seen in the academic records.

Breakfast of ‘puttu’ and green gram curry can be made on two days a working week and on every holiday. Try to include green gram in every meal of the day.

Green gram is cultivated in many parts of India. The seed and root of the plant are used in medicinal preparations also. Moreover, powdered green gram has been used by Keralites for generations to strengthen the hair and check dandruff. Ayurveda practitioners offer green gram soup to people who have been affected by poisoning.

While green gram is good for the brain, two commonly eaten vegetables can induce sluggishness. They are tapioca and potato. Research has proved that the brain fails to work efficiently for 3-4 hours after consuming tapioca. Students who take tapioca may not be able to concentrate properly on their studies for sometime.

However, tapioca has an important benefit - energy from it is quickly absorbed by the body, making physical activities efficient. Potato too is good for strenuous physical work. In the past, labourers in Germany were give potato chips during breaks. In other words, these vegetables are fine for physical tasks but not mental.

Fortunately, tapioca and potato are not endemic to India. But the American Indians had plenty of these vegetables, which led to their intellectual stagnation and subsequent destruction by Europeans.

However, both potato and tapioca are tasty and need not be avoided altogether. Still, they should not be given to children on school days and during exam time.

(As told to T B Lal)

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