Did you know the nutritional value of the humble lady’s finger?
Rich in fibre, folate, antioxidants, magnesium and vitamins, lady’s finger or okra is a versatile veggie that is believed to benefit pregnant women in different ways. It is also known to lower blood sugar and boost heart health. Okra is essentially a flowering plant which is known for its edible seed pods and is cultivated in warm and tropical climates, such as in Africa and South Asia. It usually comes in two colours - red and green. They both taste the same but the red variety changes its colour to green, when you cook it. Though okra is biologically classified under fruit, it is commonly prepared and consumed as a vegetable. So, if you are wondering how lady’s finger can make your pregnancy a healthy and smooth one, this article is just for you.
Lady’s finger nutrients
Lady’s finger has a rich nutrient profile, as it is loaded with vitamins and minerals, and has only a few calories and carbohydrates. There are some proteins and fibre in it too. It is a rich source of many essential nutrients and can help in the following ways:
- Rich in antioxidants: The main antioxidants found in this fruit are polyphenols, including flavonoids and isoquercetin. The vegetable contains vitamin A and C as well. Research has shown that polyphenols have numerous health benefits, as they improve heart health, lower the risk of blood clots, reduce oxidative damage, improve brain health, and protect against inflammation. The defence mechanism in polyphenols also improves cognition, learning, memory, and the way you age.
- Lowers heart disease: Okra has a thick gel-like substance, which is known as mucilage, and it binds to the cholesterol in your body during digestion, helping you to excrete the same. Since cholesterol is not absorbed in the body, okra regulates its level in your blood and prevents heart diseases.
- Anti-cancer properties: A protein called lectin is present in okra that might inhibit the growth of cancerous cells. A few test tube studies have shown that lectin can prevent cancerous cell growth by 63%, but more human-based research is required to validate this information.
- Lowers blood sugar: Lady’s finger is known to decrease sugar absorption in the digestive tract, which can lead to stable blood sugar levels over time.
Eating lady’s finger during pregnancy
As mentioned above, okra has multiple benefits that can help pregnant women stay healthy. Lady’s finger is generally a light food with fewer calories which can be digested easily during pregnancy. It is good for you even if you are planning a pregnancy. This is because okra contains folate, a nutrient that is essential for preventing birth defects in babies. Consuming okra regularly can help maintain a healthy folate level, which can facilitate conception too.
Okra is a healthy food item and can be easily added to your daily diet, whether you wish to prepare soups, stews or stir-fries. While shopping for okra, you should always choose smooth and tender green pods that are devoid of spots or dry ends. It is advisable to rinse okra thoroughly before cooking to minimize the risk of infections. Also, cook this vegetable on a low flame, to avoid nutrient loss.