Commonly referred to as okra in many parts of the world, lady finger is characterised by its elongated, slender shape with a ridged texture on the outer skin. It is typically harvested when young and tender, as older pods can become tough and fibrous. Its culinary usage can be traced back to ancient times in different regions.
Lady finger is a versatile and widely appreciated vegetable in various cuisines. Its unique texture, mild flavor, and nutritional value make it an excellent addition to numerous dishes. Whether stir-fried, pickled, stewed, or used as a thickening agent, lady finger continues to be an important and popular ingredient around the world.
Nutritional Profile of Lady Finger
100 grams of Lady’s Finger contains:
Calories: 35 cal
Protein: 1.9 g
Fats: 0.2 g
Carbohydrates: 6.4 g
Fiber: 3.6 g
Calcium: 85.12 mg
Iron: 0.84 mg
Magnesium: 66.1 mg
Potassium: 263 mg
Sodium: 7.37 mg
Vitamin C: 13 mg
Lady Finger is a highly nutritious vegetable that offers several key nutrients. It is also a good source of vitamins, minerals, dietary fiber, and antioxidants. Consuming lady fingers can contribute to a healthy and balanced diet.
The Nutritional Overview of Lady Finger
Lady finger contains a wide variety of essential vitamins and minerals that are beneficial for overall health. Here is a detailed breakdown of some key nutrients found in lady finger:
Vitamin C– Studies establish that Vitamin C supports a healthy immune system, promotes collagen synthesis for skin health, aids in iron absorption, acting as an antioxidant to protect cells from damage, and potentially reducing the risk of chronic diseases.
Vitamin K– Lady finger also contains Vitamin K. Its consumption offers several benefits, such as promoting blood clotting to prevent excessive bleeding, supporting bone health by aiding in calcium utilization, potentially reducing the risk of osteoporosis, and contributing to heart health by preventing the calcification of arteries. It may also have anti-inflammatory properties and support brain function.
Vitamin A– There are tremendous benefits of consuming vitamin A. It supports vision health by promoting the function of the retina, boosts immune system function, maintains healthy skin and mucous membranes, promotes growth and development. It also plays a crucial role in the differentiation and health of cells throughout the body.
B Vitamins: Lady finger provides various B vitamins, including thiamin (vitamin B1), vitamin B6, and folate. These vitamins play important roles in energy production, nervous system function, and red blood cell production.
Potassium: Lady finger is a good source of potassium, an essential mineral that helps in regulating fluid balance, maintaining proper nerve and muscle function, and supporting heart health. It also promotes healthy blood pressure levels and aids in strengthening bone and health.
Magnesium: Lady finger contains magnesium, which is involved in hundreds of biochemical reactions in the body, including energy production, muscle and nerve function, and maintenance of bone health.
Calcium: Lady finger provides some calcium, which is essential for bone health, muscle contraction, and nerve function.
Iron: Lady finger contains iron, a mineral necessary for the production of red blood cells and oxygen transport in the body.
Fibre and Antioxidants:
This vegetable also contains a good amount of dietary fibre and antioxidants. The fibre content in lady fingers helps promote healthy digestion, prevents constipation, and supports weight management. Antioxidants like vitamin C and other phytonutrients present in lady fingers help fight against free radicals, reduce inflammation, and support overall health.
Health Benefits of Lady Finger
Lady finger, or okra, offers various health benefits due to its rich nutrient profile. Here are some key benefits:
1. Promotes Digestive Health
Lady finger is a good source of dietary fibre. Fibre is essential for maintaining regular bowel movements and preventing constipation. It adds bulk to the stool, making it easier to pass through the digestive tract. . It helps prevent constipation, maintains a healthy digestive system, and reduces the risk of gastrointestinal issues. Lady fingers also contain enzymes such as amylase and lipase, which aid in the digestion of carbohydrates and fats respectively.
2. Improves Heart Health
Lady finger is low in saturated fat and cholesterol, making it a heart-healthy food choice. A diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol is important for maintaining healthy blood cholesterol levels and reducing the risk of heart disease. Studies have shown that it is rich in dietary fibre that helps lower cholesterol levels by binding to cholesterol in the digestive tract and preventing its absorption into the bloodstream.
3. Reduces Risk of Diabetes
Firstly, lady finger is a low-calorie vegetable with a low glycemic index. Foods with a low glycemic index release glucose into the bloodstream at a slower pace, preventing sudden spikes in blood sugar levels. It also contains soluble fibre, which can help regulate blood sugar levels. Soluble fibre slows down the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream, preventing rapid spikes in blood glucose after a meal. According to studies, it helps in reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes.
4. Prevents Inflammation
The vegetable contains various antioxidants, including vitamin C, flavonoids, and polyphenols. These antioxidants help neutralise harmful free radicals in the body and reduce oxidative stress, which is a major contributor to inflammation. Studies say that by reducing oxidative stress, lady fingers may help prevent chronic inflammation and its associated health risks.
5. Boosts Immunity
Lady finger is a good source of dietary fibre, which plays a role in supporting a healthy gut microbiota. It also contains various antioxidants, including flavonoids, phenolic compounds, and vitamin A that protects immune cells from oxidative damage. Some traces of phytonutrients are also found in lady fingers, which are natural compounds. They are known to have immune-boosting properties.
Lady finger offers numerous health benefits. It promotes digestive health, improves heart health by lowering cholesterol levels, reduces the risk of diabetes by regulating blood sugar levels, prevents inflammation through its antioxidants, and boosts immunity with its fibre and immune-protective compounds.
5 Tips On How to Choose High-Quality Lady Finger in the Market
Appearance: Choose lady finger pods that are bright green in colour, firm, and free from blemishes or spots. Avoid those with bruises, soft spots, or signs of decay.
Size: Look for medium-sized lady finger pods as they tend to be more tender and flavorful. Avoid excessively large or oversized pods, as they may be tough and fibrous.
Texture: Gently squeeze the lady finger pods to ensure they are firm but not too hard. They should have a slight snap when bent. Avoid pods that are limp or rubbery.
Length: Opt for lady finger pods that are around 3-4 inches in length, as they are usually more tender compared to longer ones.
Seasonality: Lady finger is best when it’s in season, typically during summer and early fall. During these times, you are more likely to find fresh and flavorful pods in the market.
Recipes Using Lady Finger
Lady finger curd curry/ Dahi Bhindi
Lady finger, chopped – 200 gm
Whisked Curd – 1/2 cup
Gram Flour – 1 tsp
Ginger garlic paste – 1 tsp
cumin seeds – 1/4 tsp
mustard seeds – 1/4 tsp
Salt – to taste
Turmeric Powder – 1/4 tsp
chilli powder – 1/2 tsp
coriander powder – 1 tsp
Oil – 2 tsp
Heat oil in a pan. Add the cumin and mustard seeds and let them splutter.
Add the chopped lady fingers and saute for a few minutes stirring all the time.
Add ginger garlic paste, salt and spices and saute.
In another bowl, mix gram flour, curd and half cup water to form a smooth mix.
Add this mixture to the pan and stir continuously.
Cook for 5 more minutes and serve hot with roti or rice.
Oven baked Lady finger
Lady fingers, cut into 1/2 inch slices – 200 gms
Olive oil 1 tbsp
Sea salt to taste
Garlic powder – 1 tsp
Black pepper – 1/2 tsp
Paprika – 1/2 tsp
Dry mango powder – 1/2 tsp
Preheat oven to 180C
Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper and keep aside.
In a bowl, mix lady finger, olive oil, salt, garlic powder, paprika, mango powder and black pepper.
Place these on a baking sheet in a single layer.
Roast in the oven for 15 minutes or until the edges of okra are browned.
Serve with lemon drizzled on top.
Side Effects of Consuming Lady Finger
Though lady finger is generally safe and well-tolerated by most individuals, there are a few potential side effects and precautions to consider:
While it is uncommon, some individuals may experience allergic reactions to lady finger. This is typically caused by proteins present in the vegetable. Symptoms of an allergic reaction can include itching, hives, swelling of the face or throat, difficulty breathing, and gastrointestinal distress. If you suspect an allergy to lady finger, it is recommended to avoid consumption and consult with a healthcare professional for diagnosis and guidance.
Lady Fingers can sometimes cause gas or flatulence in certain individuals. This is primarily due to its high fibre content. Fibre-rich foods can be more challenging to digest, leading to increased gas production in the intestines. To minimise gas issues, cook lady finger thoroughly, as this can make it easier to digest. Additionally, drinking plenty of water along with fibre helps gastric emptying and prevent gas formation..
It may potentially interact with certain medications. However, there are no widely reported interactions between lady finger and medications. If you are taking any specific medications, especially those that are known for food interactions, it is advisable to consult with your healthcare provider or pharmacist. They can provide personalised advice based on your medication regimen and potential interactions.
Do you hate lady finger because of their sliminess? There are many ways to reduce the same.
– Cook it on high heat and avoid overcooking to maintain the crispness.
– Adding acidic foods such as lemon juice, curd can reduce the sliminess.
– Bake or air fry the lady finger along with spices to make it crispy and tasty.
Lady finger offers a range of nutritional and health benefits. It is rich in dietary fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, which support digestive health, heart health, blood sugar management, immune function, and weight management. Incorporation of lady fingers into a balanced diet can provide these benefits, along with adding variety and flavor to meals. So, consider including this versatile vegetable in your culinary repertoire for improved overall health and well-being.
Disclaimer: The purpose of this article is just to disperse knowledge and raise awareness. It does not intend to replace medical advice from professionals. For further information please contact our certified nutritionists Here
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
1. Is lady finger good for diabetes?
Yes, lady fingers are beneficial for diabetes management. It has a low glycemic index and contains soluble fibre that helps regulate blood sugar levels.
2. Does lady finger cause gas?
Lady finger can cause gas in some individuals due to its high fibre content. Cooking it thoroughly and gradually increasing fibre intake can help minimise gas production.
3. How many calories in a lady finger?
A single medium-sized lady finger (approximately 100 grams) contains around 33 calories. The calorie content may vary slightly depending on the size and preparation method.
4. Does lady finger cause allergies?
While allergies to lady fingers are rare, some individuals may be allergic to it. If you have a known allergy to lady finger or related vegetables, it is important to avoid consumption and seek medical advice if necessary.
5. Does lady finger cause constipation?
No, lady fingers do not cause constipation. In fact, it is beneficial for promoting regular bowel movements due to its high fibre content, which helps prevent constipation.
6. Does lady finger cause acidity?
Lady finger is not known to cause acidity. It is generally considered a low-acid food and is well-tolerated by most individuals. However, individual sensitivities may vary, so it is best to observe how your body reacts to it.
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