Stuck with the name Ladies Finger, which is often made fun of, this slender vegetable can actually provide you some good health benefits. So, India being a diverse country, we do have many different regional names for this vegetable as well. It is called Bhindi in the north, and Vendakka/Vendakkai/Bendakaayi, etc. in the South. It is also known as Okra. This is actually a very common vegetable that is available throughout the year across the country.
It is also rather easy to cultivate and many homes grow it in pots on their terrace or balcony as well. It also happens to be a rather versatile vegetable that can be used in many different ways of cooking. The fact that kids love it as much as the adults, and that it is easy to cook also makes it a favorite among most households. But, what (if anything) are we gaining by including this simple vegetable in our daily diet?
Ladies Finger is a highly nutritious vegetable and contains carbohydrates, protein, soluble fiber, and a little bit of fat. The mineral presence in the Ladies Finger is also rather good with Calcium, Magnesium, Iron, Manganese, Potassium, and Zinc, all of which are rather essential for the proper functioning of our body. What’s more, it is also high on Vitamins with Folate, Vitamin C, β-carotene, Thiamine, Riboflavin, and Niacin.
Besides all of these, Ladies Finger also contains many other beneficial compounds like Catechins, Flavonol derivatives, Quercetin, Tannins, Sterols, Triterpenes, and more. The presence of such a great amount of nutrients makes this vegetable rather a healthy one and helps the human body to build immunity as well as the fight against many diseases. These benefits range from helping the breakdown of the glucose in the body to increase the destruction of tumor cells. Here is a rundown of the main health benefits of Ladies Finger.
Being rich in antioxidants, this vegetable helps our body to fight and prevent the damage that occurs from free radicals. The free radicals are responsible for many diseases in our body, including inflammation, and the tumor that usually leads to cancer. Okra contains polyphenols ( including flavonoids and isoquercetin), and Vitamins A and C, all of which are antioxidants. These also help improve our cardiovascular health, by ensuring lower oxidative damage as well as the risk of blood clots. Being anti-inflammatory, the antioxidants can also help improve brain health and reduce cognitive damage.
While we all know that antioxidants help stave off cancer, Ladies Finger also contains a protein called lectin, which further helps in this cause. This inhibits cell growth, and thus prevents cancerous cell multiplication. Scientific evidence suggests that the prevention of (breast) cancer cell growth is as much as 63%. Not just the prevention of cancer cell growth, it even aided its destruction.
Blood sugar regulation
Another lifestyle disease that often troubles people in the old age is diabetes. Studies conducted on mice suggest that eating Ladies Finger can reduce blood sugar levels in our body. It is also suggested that components in Ladies Finger may interact with certain diabetes drugs, hence it is best to check once with the doc on the consumption of this vegetable.
Traditionally, Ladies Finger has been known to improve digestion and help with the gut health of humans. This is because the components in them help remove harmful microbes that affect the digestive tract. Mainly it is gastritis and gastric ulcer-causing bacteria that is thwarted by the components in the Ladies Finger.
Certain substances in Ladies Finger also helps improve the colon health in our body. Colon, as we know, absorbs fluids and helps flush the toxins, and that is imperative for the overall health. The components Okra help in this function, and the fiber presence, improve the digestive health.
Prevents Kidney disease
It has been proved that Ladies Finger consumption helps reduce the protein levels in the urine, which actually leads to Kidney diseases. Also, since the components in the Ladies Finger reduces the oxidative damage and inhibit the effects of free radicals as mentioned above, this further helps with the Kidney health.
Many other benefits attributed to Ladies Fingers, some of which have not been proved scientifically include, improved skin and liver health, reduction in fatigue and improved endurance levels, reduced damage due to sun exposure, etc. What makes it a coveted vegetable for the seniors, is the fact that it is easily available, easy to store, and easy to clean and cook.
In India, we use Ladies Finger to make simple stir-fries, pakodas, cook it dry as well as in gravies and curries like sambhar. It can also be stuffed with interesting stuff and baked, roasted or fried. One good aspect is that it easily goes with many other vegetables and is common in many types of vegetable gravy.