Growing up in India, chances are high that you tried to emulate older members of your family dipping their biscuit into a cup of steaming chai. Soon, it became second nature to you. Your local chai-wala keeps a variety of dippable treats when you stroll over for an evening break.
The chai tradition feels incomplete if it isn’t accompanied by a crispy, baked snack.
But besides the nostalgia, does the biscuit add any nutritional value? We quizzed our Health Coach, Sampada Kulkarni at Wellthy Therapeutics on whether the biscuit held its own or simply melted into mush at the bottom of your teacup.
What are biscuits primarily made up of?
- A significant ingredient in the preparation of Biscuits is refined flour (maida) and sugar which has a negligible amount of fibre making it a fast digesting food leading to blood sugar fluctuations.
- Cream biscuits or cookies are calorie dense which can be a cause of weight gain and ultimately it could lead to a rise in bad cholesterol levels.
- Biscuits that are salty have a high amount of sodium which can cause a sudden elevation in blood pressure.
Are cream biscuits much worse?
- Eating cream biscuits releases a surge of energy but it doesn’t last long (due to low fibre) which leads to hunger, and you end up eating more.
- That doesn’t mean you have to cut them out completely. If you have 1 or 2 biscuits twice a month, you are good to go. But make sure you’re not eating them with any beverages.
Are plain biscuits/Digestive biscuits as healthy as the name suggests?
- No doubt they are better than the cookies and cream biscuits, but it still isn’t the healthiest option because they do have a high amount of carbohydrates, artificial sweeteners and preservatives.
- Biscuits or cookies that have nuts in them may not be in their natural form, and even if they are, they might not be as useful as you consider it to be with the amount of sugar and refined flour (maida).
- Avoid eating it as your breakfast although you can have 2 to 3 biscuits twice a week.
Can I eat biscuits for breakfast?
Eating only biscuits as your breakfast isn’t healthy because:
- It is not wholesome; either there is no fibre or protein in it or the amount present aren’t sufficient especially after an overnight fast.
- It spikes our blood sugar levels.
- Don’t we all love dunking our biscuit in piping hot chai or coffee? But it is not recommended if you’re adding any form of sugar or sweetener in it.
So, are there any alternatives?
- There are some diabetes-friendly biscuits available in the market along with whole wheat biscuits made with jaggery and no preservatives, but not even these biscuits are completely healthy since sugar, jaggery or honey are basically the same things although these biscuits are definitely better than the others.
- Biscuits made from oats, whole wheat, ragi are good for health. You can have 2 to 3 biscuits twice a week.
- To satisfy your sweet tooth, you can spread little peanut butter on it or add a few chunks of dark chocolate if you’re making them at home or picking from a store.
- Homemade khakhras, a medium bowl of makhana(fox nut seeds) or unsalted popcorn, crackers with string cheese are always a suitable replacement.
- You can always make variations to make it not only healthy but also delicious!
Things to keep in mind
- Nutrition label! Always check the nutrition label for the type and amount of sugar, amount of artificial sweetener, colours, trans fat. The amount of saturated fat present in cookies is pretty high which can elevate bad cholesterol.
- Be aware! There are biscuits or cookies which says ‘no cholesterol’ but check if it has saturated fats in it; higher the saturated fat higher the risk of rising bad cholesterol level.
- Type of lifestyle! Imbalance can be caused if you have a sedentary lifestyle and your diet is unhealthy.
- Stay active! Go on a walk for 15-20 minutes after eating biscuits or climb up stairs.