Are chapatis bad for you?

Monday July 13 2020


By Dr Kasenene

You often ask people to avoid eating chapati. What is wrong with eating chapati since it is a common food for most people. –Henry
Dear Henry,
Chapati is not inherently bad food. What we need to understand are the ingredients used to make chapati. Most of the chapati eaten is made from refined wheat flour, refined vegetable cooking oil and refined white salt, among others.

It is these ingredients that make most of the chapati, especially those made by the roadside rather unhealthy.
What is wrong with these ingredients?

Wheat is a grain. Grains are generally okay to eat for most people when eaten whole. A whole or intact grain consists of a hard outer layer (the bran or testa), a carbohydrate-rich middle part (the endosperm) and an inner nutrient-rich part (the germ).

When all parts are eaten together, the grain is fine. But when you refine the grain through milling, the bran and the germ which contain all the fibre are removed. This leaves a carbohydrate-rich product that once eaten, will spike blood sugars, affecting blood sugar metabolism and makes the body quickly convert those sugars to fat in your body, around the belly and the liver. But modern wheat also has a lot of the protein gluten that causes digestive problems for many.

The oil used is mostly processed vegetable oil. Most refined oil such as sunflower and corn oil are high in fats that cause inflammation in the body and increase the risk for heart disease. Just because an oil is vegetable-based does not make it healthy.

Then white table salt is bad for our blood vessels. It is actually high in sodium and has a rusting-like effect on the blood vessels and increases the risk for high blood pressure, arthritis and kidney problems.


However, if someone used whole grain flour or a non-wheat flour, together with avocado oil and healthier ingredients such as garlic, himalayan salt as well as onions and tomatoes, the chapati produced would be much better. In any case, chapati is a carbohydrate-rich food and should be eaten in moderation, not daily, even if it is prepared with healthier ingredients.

The beet has fibre, vitamins, minerals and other substances that are healthy in diabetics and non-diabetics alike which should not be missed just because one is diabetic.

That said, diabetics empty their stomachs much quicker than non-diabetics requiring that they eat beetroot instead of drinking the juice which may then raise sugar too quickly.