Lady fingers, also known as okra or bhindi, are green, slender, and fuzzy pods that belong to the mallow family. They are widely grown in warm and humid regions of the world and are a common vegetable in many dishes. Lady fingers are not only tasty but also healthy, as they have a lot of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fibre. Here are some of the health benefits of lady fingers that you should know:
1. They help control blood sugar levels
One of the most amazing benefits of lady fingers is their ability to balance blood sugar levels. Lady fingers have a lot of soluble fibre, which slows down the digestion and absorption of carbs, thereby preventing sudden changes in blood sugar. Moreover, lady fingers have a substance called eugenol, which has been found to have anti-diabetic effects by blocking the enzyme that breaks down starch into glucose. Additionally, lady fingers have a thick gel-like substance called mucilage, which sticks to cholesterol and bile acids in the digestive tract and helps remove them from the body. This reduces the reabsorption of glucose and lowers the risk of diabetes problems.
2. They improve digestion and prevent constipation
Another benefit of lady fingers is their positive impact on digestion and bowel movements. The soluble fibre in lady fingers adds bulk to the stool and softens it, making it easier to pass. The mucilage in lady fingers also lubricates the intestinal walls and prevents irritation and inflammation. Furthermore, lady fingers have prebiotic properties, which means they feed the good bacteria in the gut and enhance their growth and activity. A healthy gut microbiome is essential for proper digestion, immunity, and mood.
3. They boost immunity and fight infections
Lady fingers are a good source of vitamin C, which is a powerful antioxidant that protects the cells from oxidative damage and boosts the immune system. Vitamin C also helps in the production of collagen, which is a protein that strengthens the skin, bones, and connective tissues. Moreover, lady fingers contain other antioxidants such as beta-carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin, and quercetin, which remove free radicals and prevent chronic diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, and neurodegenerative disorders. Lady fingers also have antibacterial properties, which can help fight infections caused by bacteria such as E. coli, Salmonella, and Staphylococcus.
4. They support bone health and prevent fractures
Lady fingers are rich in vitamin K1, which is a fat-soluble vitamin that plays a vital role in blood clotting and bone metabolism. Vitamin K1 activates a protein called osteocalcin, which binds calcium to the bone matrix and increases bone density. Vitamin K1 also prevents calcium from depositing in the arteries and causing calcification. Lady fingers also contain calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, and manganese, which are essential minerals for bone formation and maintenance.
5. They benefit pregnant women and fetal development
Lady fingers are an excellent vegetable for pregnant women, as they provide folate or folic acid, which is a B vitamin that is crucial for the conception and development of the fetus. Folate helps prevent neural tube defects such as spina bifida and anencephaly in the baby. Folate also supports DNA synthesis and cell division in both the mother and the baby. Lady fingers also contain iron, which is needed for the production of hemoglobin, the protein that carries oxygen in the blood. Iron deficiency can cause anemia in pregnant women and affect their energy levels and immunity.
How to use lady fingers
Lady fingers can be eaten raw or cooked in various ways. You can chop them into pieces and add them to salads, soups, stews, curries, or stir-fries. You can also roast them in the oven with some oil and spices for a crispy snack. You can even make lady finger chips by slicing them thinly and frying them in oil until golden brown. Alternatively, you can blend them with water or milk to make a smoothie or juice.
Dr. Karuturi Subrahmanyam, MD, FRCP (London), FACP (USA)
Internal Medicine Specialist
Phone : 85000 23456