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The Surprising Benefits Of Modak – How The Coconut Filling Helps

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Introduction

Modaks are associated with festivities, celebrations, prayer and enjoyment, especially during Ganesha Chaturthi, celebrated by many Hindus across the world. During the 10-day celebration, foods like Satori, Puran Poli (both sweet flatbreads), shrikhand and laddoo are commonly eaten.

But none is more well-loved during this festival than Modak. Modak (like the Motichoor Laddoo) is thought to be Lord Ganesha’s favourite food. For those who are not familiar with this traditional Indian sweet, it looks like a dumpling with a pointed top and is served throughout the festival in steamed form. 

You may wonder whether this delicious treat is healthy for you? Let’s find out.

What’s Inside a Modak?

Most Modaks are made from either wheat flour or rice flour for the outer shell, which acts as the structure and carrier for the yummy fillings. Fried Modaks typically use wheat flour (atta) while the steamed Modaks that are popular during the 10-day Ganesh festival are made from ground rice flour.

The filling is made from a mixture of coconut and jaggery, which is cooked in ghee. Of course, apart from these base ingredients, there are always several additions to the filling. Nuts are a common addition to Modaks while another essential ingredient is cardamom (usually in powder form). Some people add their own twist to this delicious sweet, each with slightly different ingredients to the filling.

Since steamed Modaks are not fried in oil, they are considered the healthier of the two variants of Modak. But what are the health benefits of Modaks?

How Are Modaks Healthy?

The main ingredients in the filling (coconut and jaggery) both come with strong nutrition and health benefits, with coconut being the star of the show. Coconut has long been used in Indian traditional cuisine for many years, in both savoury dishes like curries as well as in sweets and delicacies. Some health benefits of Modak:

  • Modaks may help to fight against constipation. Since the filling is cooked in ghee it is thought to help the stomach lining build itself up and support bowel movement. Additionally, the added coconut contains a lot of dietary fibre, which is also useful for a healthy digestive system.
  • Another benefit of coconut is the presence of healthy fat, fibres, antioxidants and micronutrients in its composition. 
  • Ghee is rich in important nutrients like vitamin A, omega-3 fatty acids. It may also help reduce gut inflammation and support heart health when consumed in limited amounts. On the other hand, coconut (and other dry fruit additions) in the filling contain plant sterols which help to lower LDL and increase the level of HDL (good cholesterol). 
  • Taken as a whole, Modak and its filling may have a low glycemic index but only when eaten in moderation. Although much more research is needed into it, this sweet may have a stable and safe blood sugar reaction.
  • Butyric acid may help with reducing inflammation across the body and is good for your joints, that’s why ghee has been used as a traditional cure for such issues throughout history. 
  • The rice flour contains Vitamin B1 and sugars that help to reduce sugar cravings which may help during PMS. Additionally, since it contains good fats, carbs and fibre which makes it a healthy ingredient. However, it can also promote weight gain if eaten excessively, so always take it in moderation. 
  • Apart from all its other benefits like healthy fats, protein and vitamins, coconut is also high in manganese which is required for healthy bones. Manganese is also essential for the body to metabolise carbohydrates and proteins.

What may be the Downsides of Modak?

As mentioned before, when eaten in excess, Modaks can cause some health issues like weight gain.

Jaggery may also contribute to a sudden increase in blood sugar levels, although it is considered safer and healthier than refined sugar. For diabetics, it may be advisable to avoid both jaggery and sugar based on your doctor’s instructions. 

Should You Eat Modak?

If you don’t have any underlying medical issues like diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol then this sweet is perfectly safe for you. It may even contribute positively to your overall health and mind and it certainly helps you celebrate this festival better! However, it is best to moderate the number of rich foods you eat during these festival days, including Modak’s. Avoid chomping down on too many in one sitting and count the number of Modak’s you eat during these days. If you have long term medical issues then it is best to check with your doctor what foods you can eat during Ganesh Chaturthi and avoid any health complications.

Disclaimer: The information included at this site is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment by a healthcare professional. Because of unique individual needs, the reader should consult their physician to determine the appropriateness of the information for the reader’s situation.

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