You are what you eat. Let food be thy medicine. An apple a day… and all that. Our language is rife with maxims espousing nutrition as the key to good health. As it turns out, science supports such historical wisdom.
The human body requires a balance of carbohydrates, protein, vitamins, minerals, water, and fat (yes, even fat) to function. As these nutrients occur naturally in different food items, nothing quite beats a balanced diet for overall wellbeing.
Still, certain ingredients are known to be particularly beneficial for different parts of the body. Here’s a look at some of these wonder foods and how chefs around Doha incorporate them into their menus.
Brains – Walnuts
Roquette Salad with Walnut Dressing and Candied Walnut – QR70
(Grand Hyatt Doha – 4448 1272 daily 10a-midnight)
More than half the human brain is made up of structural fat; it needs good fats such as Omega-3 to stay fluid, flexible, and function normally. Walnuts are packed with a plant based Omega-3 fatty acid, making them the ultimate brain food. Isn’t it uncanny that walnuts somewhat resemble a crunchy brain? Feed your noodle with this salad perfumed with walnut oil and brimming with other delectables, including pears, Gorgonzola cheese and candied walnut pieces.
Heart – Salmon
Steamed Salmon with Purple Potato – QR130
Après Spa Café
(Four Seasons Hotel Doha – 4494 8888 daily 8a-10p)
Omega-3s are unsaturated fatty acids that have an anti-clotting effect and help keep the blood flowing. They may also reduce inflammation and decrease triglycerides, which lead to heart disease. Oily fish is rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, with salmon rising to the top for being heart-friendly. Steamed tender, wrapped around poached spinach and sitting in an herb-based sauce, this salmon dish is also exceedingly kind on the waistline – coming in at just 247 calories.
Bones – Yogurt
Vanilla and Honey Granola with Yogurt and Berry Compote – QR28
Jones the Grocer
(The Gate Mall – 4407 7175 Sat-Thurs 8a-11p; Fri 8a-11:30a, 1p-11p)
Calcium is the foundation of strong bones. A deficiency of this mineral could lead to brittle, fragile bones, particularly in old age. One of the best sources of calcium is milk, and by extension, dairy products. This covers everything from cheese to ice cream, with low-fat yogurt being one of the more guiltless options. Kick off the day with this breakfast parfait featuring layers of yogurt, homemade granola, and fruit compote. Takeaway parfait options include muesli and fig jam.
Skin – Pomegranate
Portobello Salad with White Quinoa and Pomegranate – QR75
The French Olive
(Barwa Al Sadd, C-Ring Road – 4444 4777 daily 7a-11p)
The largest (and fastest-growing) organ in our body is in constant need of antioxidants to help it defend against damaging free radicals. Brimming with vitamins C, E, and A, pomegranates are an antioxidant-powerhouse, helping the formation of collagen and regulating the skin’s blood flow. You get pomegranates in three forms with this summery salad – pomegranate juice and molasses give the quinoa a light tang, with pieces of fresh fruit adding bursts of flavour.
Eyes – Spinach
Palak Paneer – QR29
(Khalifa International Tennis & Squash Complex – 4483 3345 Sat-Wed 11:30a-midnight; Thurs 11:30a-1a, Fri 12:30p-1a)
Think good vision, think carrots. But Bugs Bunny isn’t the only one who got it right; Popeye the Sailor Man seems to know a thing or two about good ocular health. Spinach, among other leafy greens, is a terrific source of lutein and zeaxanthin, an antioxidant duo stored in the retina, which shield the eye from damaging light. The Northern Indian specialty palak paneer is a curry of pureed spinach with cubes of fresh cheese — a feast for the eyes in more ways than one.
Hair – Peanuts/Almonds
Peanut Butter Cup Cupcake – QR18
Red Velvet Cupcakery
(Building 24 Katara Cultural Village – 4408 0700 daily 9a-midnight)
Ever dream of the kind of lustrous hair that glows in shampoo advertisements? Forget the shampoo, and pick up a jar of peanut butter instead. Peanuts are brimming with biotin, a B vitamin complex that helps improve the keratin infrastructure of hair and increase its elasticity. What a perfect excuse to enjoy this cupcake – a chocolate buttermilk sponge crowned by an unforgettable frosting of slightly salted peanut butter. Even the cheat treat has health benefits!
** A version of this article appears in Time Out Doha **