Almonds are finding favour in Indian homes

According to a recent survey, Indians prefer healthy meals with unhealthy snacking thrown in...

How healthy and fit each member of the family is, depends on the woman of the house. They are the nutritional gatekeepers because the dietary needs of the family rest with them. No wonder then, that homemakers plan meals for their family with a missionary zeal.

Ipsos, an international market research agency, conducted a quantitative research among 3012 homemakers from SEC A&B homes, to map motivations and preferences of meals among urban households.

The survey covered the six cities of Delhi, Mumbai, Lucknow, Ahmedabad, Bangalore and Hyderabad.

500 homemakers in each of these cities were polled face-to-face to capture the eating habits of their family. Some of the key findings of the survey captured the meal and snacking habits of people in these metros. Interestingly, almonds emerged as one of the key snacking options, both in the morning and evening. Though, they were less preferred to peanuts, namkeen, chips etc. According to the survey, homemakers and their family members prefer healthy meals with unhealthy snacking.

Interestingly, homemakers polled said that a great deal of planning goes into their meal and they usually plan a day prior. Overall, 96 per cent of the urban, educated women polled were found to be aware of the requirements of essential nutrients. When probed on the order of importance of nutrients, homemakers named the nutrients in their order of importance as—proteins, vitamins, minerals, and carbohydrates.

almonds-220x125Given their level of awareness, an overall 58 per cent of homemakers said that they strive to provide healthy meals and snacks to their family. On the whole, the favourite snacking options for mid-morning hunger pangs was found to be a mix of healthy and unhealthy snacking options.  The six-city survey produced a list that could not be more interesting. Homemakers whittled down their favourite snacking items to: tea/coffee with cookies [73 per cent]; poha/ upma [45 per cent]; chips/ namkeen [44 per cent]; fruits [35 per cent]; sandwich/toast [35 per cent]; idlis [30 per cent]; almonds [29 per cent]; instant noodles [26 per cent] and other dry fruits like cashews, raisins, pistachios, chilgoza [pine nuts] [23 per cent] etc.

Fascinatingly evening snacking options do not vary much from the mid morning snacking list, only the pecking order of  preference was found to be different: biscuits [63 per cent] were most preferred, followed by  instant noodles [42 per cent], fruits [41 per cent], pakoras [35 per cent], sandwich/toast [32 per cent], munchies/namkeen/peanuts [27 per cent], almonds [22 per cent] – in some cities almonds are consumed only in the morning [Mumbai and Ahmedabad] whereas in Delhi, Bangalore and Hyderabad – almonds are consumed morning and evening.

What nutritionists have to say

Ritika Samaddar, a Delhi based nutritionist says, “The findings suggest a tectonic shift in the mindset of Indian women, who are now at least aware of the nutritional requirements of their own health and their family’s wellbeing. But, clearly, there are loopholes in implementation and most of them end up giving in to their cravings. Tea, coffee and cookies may be synonymous with morning-snack time but they also are very high in calories.”

Madhuri Ruia a Mumbai based nutritionist says, “Nuts, such as almonds, provide a powerful nutrient package because they include plant protein, hunger-fighting fibre, healthy monounsaturated fats, and important vitamins and minerals. All of these may have cardio protective, anti-carcinogenic, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. In fact, ounce for ounce, almonds are higher in protein, fibre, calcium, vitamin E, riboflavin and niacin than any other tree nut. No way should one miss including this nut in their diet. Recent studies also suggest two very important health gains that nuts like almonds have to offer. Number one, consuming nuts is associated with lower prevalence of Metabolic Syndrome and obesity which is prevalent in our country. Now that’s a great deal considering the delicious taste and crunch that nuts like almonds have on offer. Number two, almonds are rich in nutrients and a handful of them can treat your body to the vital nutrients it needs.”

She adds, “One serving of almonds has 9 grams of good mono unsaturated fats. There is a large and growing body of research which corroborates the umpteen health benefits that these nuts provide and in today’s stressful and fast paced lives nuts like almonds can be part of a total almonds especially are the healthiest of the lot. They give us energy, vitamins, proteins and nutrients in every form. They can be eaten in any manner – raw, soaked overnight or ground and mixed with milk.”

Sheela Krishnaswamy, Diet and Nutrition Consultant based in Bangalore says, “To curb hunger pangs during snack time, it is always better to munch on nuts or have fruits because they are an instant source of energy. Nuts like almonds satisfy the urge to eat something and at the same time keep a check on the excess calorie intake as well as cholesterol level. These are important parameters especially for people who have diabetes or heart disease running in their family.”

61 per cent of homemakers polled say they like to perpetually munch on something. A whopping 91 per cent of homemakers polled in Lucknow and 87 per cent of homemakers polled in Hyderabad stated this.

Namkeen, chips, peanuts and biscuits are the most preferred snacking choices. 81 per cent homemakers in Hyderabad however choose almonds.

66 per cent homemakers polled said that they include almonds in their daily diet. Hyderabad homemakers consume the most [86 per cent], followed by Mumbai homemakers [73 per cent]. Over 50 per cent homemakers in Lucknow and Ahmedabad, do not include almonds in their daily diet, health benefits of almonds notwithstanding. Interestingly, while most homemakers claim to be giving almonds to their kids on a daily basis, 50 per cent of moms in Lucknow and Ahmedabad, do not include almonds in daily diet of kids. Across cities, each member consumes 4 – 5 pieces of almonds almost on a daily basis.

The survey covered urban households, where there is emphasis on nutrition. Homemakers will buy dry fruits [though they are expensive], keeping in view pay off in terms of nutrition and health benefits. “Irregular eating habits and the constant concern about providing adequate nutrition for their family and to make them more resilient to external factors like competition, stress etc. makes homemakers choose almonds and dry fruits for family,” says Madhurima Bhatia of Ipsos, who did the survey.

The survey also found out that the lower consumption of almonds in Lucknow and Ahmedabad could be attributed to the perception of almonds being seasonal nuts. 51 per cent of homemakers from Delhi believed that almonds were best consumed during winter.

But awareness of the health benefits of almonds was found to be high in general among homemakers.  75 per cent homemakers rated almonds highest on health benefits vis-à-vis other dry fruits. Other dry fruits rated in the order of health benefits were: Dates [39 per cent], Cashew Nuts [37 per cent], Walnuts [35 per cent], Pistachios [35 per cent] and Raisins [30 per cent].

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