In India, socialising and celebrating is all about tasting and eating different types of Indian sweets without counting the calories. Jalebis, Rasgulla, Soan Papdi , Barfis, Ras Malai, Laddu, Halwa, Gulab jamun, Kheer, Cham cham etc., are some of the most popular Indian sweets.
Indians love sweets but many times food regulators on raids have unearthed tonnes of adulterated sweets prepared with adulterated ingredients.
Some of the hazards of eating Indian sweets are as below:
Use of chemical Formalin in preservation of sweets
Many sweet factories in India use the chemical Formalin to mass preserve Indian sweets for long periods of time. It would shock most people to note that Formalin is used for preservation of corpses. Consuming formalin-mixed sweets can cause damage to kidneys and liver of humans and also cause asthma attacks and cancer. If pregnant women consume sweets mixed with Formalin there are high chances that the baby they deliver will be a physically challenged baby.
Silver Foiled Sweets
Indian sweets are traditionally covered by ‘’edible’ silver foil’ or ‘Barkh’ to give a more appetising and beautiful look to the sweets. However the edible covering or silver foil used for coating the sweets, are made from metals that can be harmful for health.
Tests conducted by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Pune, confirmed that the silver foil used for coating sweets is increasingly being adulterated with Aluminium. Aluminium is a hazardous metal when consumed. Aluminium accumulates in body tissues, especially the bones. It can also enter the brain. During pregnancy it can cause damage to the placenta and foetus. It is suspected that aluminium poisoning is a major cause of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
High amount of sugar.
Indian Sweets are prepared traditionally using high amounts of sugar and so they have a large amount of empty calories in them. Let us look at the amount of calories in some of the popular Indian sweets.
Gulab Jamun: Two balls have about 387 calories.
Jalebi: One piece is about 150 calories.
Laddu: One piece has about 185 calories.
Ras Malai: One piece has about 180 calories.
Peda: One piece has about 82 calories.
Halwa: One piece has about 100 calories.
Kheer: One serving has 270 calories.
Kaju Katli: One piece has about 58 calories.
Karanji: One serving has about 224 calories.
Cham Cham: One piece has about 175 calories.
Jalebis which is a favourite Indian sweet for many has been featured on an American news website’s list of fattening food items across the globe.
Transfats in Indian Sweets
Often Indian sweets are prepared using vanaspati ghee or partially hydrogenated vegetable oils. These are transfats and toxic. They cause a wide range of lifestyle diseases including hypertension, type 2 diabetes, cancer and more.
Toxic, synthetic milk
A significant percentage of milk sold in the unorganized sector in India is contaminated and adulterated with synthetic milk. This is a toxic concoction made with Urea and detergents. It is impossible for people to taste any difference between real milk and synthetic milk. This toxic substance can cause liver and kidney failures and much more damage. Milk based sweets are often found to be adulterated with synthetic milk.
Presence of Toxic industry dyes in Indian Sweets
A team of scientists from Indian Institute of Toxicology Research, Lucknow, conducted a study on use of illegal colours in sweets. The team detected illegal and potentially toxic colours in around 16% of sweets and savouries tested. They also found that even with sweets that
contained safe colours, 58% exceeded the cap of 100 mg/kg determined by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI).
The scientists found six banned dyes in the sweets tested: rhodamine B, orange II, metanil yellow, malachite green, quinoline yellow and auramine. FSSAI rules allow only eight colours to be used in food, and all the others are classed as non-permitted colours (NPCs). All these dyes are harmful in nature and causes diseases like cancer upon chronic consumption.
At foodnetindia we do not advocate buying of Indian sweets from stores but rather making your favourite sweets at home. If you buy sweets from outside then make sure they do not have silver foil and do not use vanaspati ghee. Please also never buy colored sweets and buy only from brands where you can be sure that the milk is not adulterated. Diabetics must avoid eating sweets regularly and only opt for sugar-free diabetic sweets. Sweets with syrups must be avoided as they have higher calories in them, and try and substitute sweets with nuts.