This tiny green vegetable also called Okra and Gumbo is grown in tropical and warm climates and is available all through the year. The green coloured pods are about 5-15 cm in length. When you slit and open a bhindi, you will find mucilaginous seeds, white in colour, arranged vertically in a row.
Okra was a favourite of the Egyptians over 3500 years ago and till today it is used in several culinary dishes. Cleopatra of Egypt is believed to have been an avid eater of Okra. During World War II, the coffee bean shortage made people use okra seeds as a substitute for coffee.
Lovers of lady finger like to eat this vegetable raw too because of its sweetness. Lady’s finger is a recipe not only meant to satisfy your taste buds, it also has high amounts of soluble and insoluble dietary fibers, vitamins, minerals and healthy nutrients. So include bhindi as the main dish or as a side recipe in your diet and get on the road to staying healthy and fit.
Nutrient Value of Bhindi (Okra)
Lady’s finger is packed with multiple nutrients:
Health Benefits of Lady’s Finger
1. Controls Diabetes
Okra has loads of dietary fiber that plays a pivotal role in stabilising blood sugar levels. The anti-diabetic feature of okra is owing to its ability to inhibit enzymes that produce carbohydrates and enhance more production of insulin.
2. Prevents Heart Ailments
Lady’s finger contains a soluble fiber called pectin that lowers blood cholesterol and helps in preventing heart problems. The antioxidant compounds called polyphenols present in lady’s finger also prevent blocking of arteries.
3. Prevents Cancer
According to a published research study, the level of antioxidants found in lady’s finger is on the higher side as compared to other vegetables. These prevent the damaging free radicals to affect your body and stop the proliferation of cancer cells.
4. Helps You Lose Weight
Being low in calories as low as 30 calories per 100 gm okra, lady’s finger is a healthy veggie that helps you lose stubborn weight. The good thing about eating bhindi is that it has no saturated fats or cholesterol.
5. Improves Immunity
A 100 gm of serving of bhindi gives you 38% of your daily requirement intake of nutrients. Lady’s finger is rich in vitamin C that further protects your body from infections and diseases and builds immunity.
6. Fights Asthma
Vitamin C in Okra helps in fighting respiratory ailments such as asthma. As per a study consumption of fruits that are rich in vitamin C can reduce wheezing symptoms in childhood.
7. Improves Mental Faculties
Lady’s finger has Folate or vitamin B9 which helps in proper functioning of your brain.
8. Aids in fighting Constipation
The mucilage found in bhindi helps in smooth passage of the digested food through your gut leading to relaxed passing out of stools from your body and lesser chances of constipation.
9. Strengthens Bones
Okra pods have reasonable amount of vitamin K. Being a co-factor in the production of blood clotting enzymes okra imparts strength to your bones.
10. Good for Pregnant women
Eating foods rich in Vitamin B9 or folates such as lady’s finger before conceiving is extremely beneficial in preventing and reducing the neurological birth defects in a newborn.
11. Dandruff and lice treatment
Bhindi proves to be an effective remedy in treating pesky lice and dandruff. All you need to do is to cut okra in a horizontal fashion and boil it in water. Now add lemon to this treated water and use this water to rinse your affected hair.
12. Skin Pigmentation
Okra is good for your skin as it prevents skin pigmentation and helps in making your skin look younger.
Miscellaneous Benefits for eating Lady’s Finger
o Okra juice is used to treat diarrhoea and abdominal problems
o Okra juice is an effective remedy for treating sore throat
o Skin itchiness can be resolved by drinking okra juice
o Okra is believed to make your skin smooth and also prevent pimple and acne from occurring and affecting you
Selecting and Storing Okra
Whenever you are out on a bhindi shopping spree, look out for fresh immature pods. Avoid buying pods that are overripe or have sunken looks and discoloured spots.
Do not keep raw and uncooked okra pods in the refrigerator beyond 1-2 days. It is advisable to cook them as fresh produce to gain maximum nutritional benefits out of it.
Tips on Serving Okra
There are hybrid versions of bhindi available too that might be subjected to insecticide or pesticide spray. Always wash bhindi in cold water and thoroughly to remove dirt and germs.
Okra pods can be pickled and preserved just like other vegetables. They can be fried too in oil over low flame delivering crispy bhindi which can be had as an accompaniment to the main dish. In the Caribbean islands, you will find okra being consumed as soup, with fish.
The universal nature of okra allows it to be savoured with other veggies and rice.
Recipe of Bhindi Masala
A supreme vegetable, Lady’s finger has immensely rich fibre content. Whether it is treating constipation, cancer, diabetes, ulcers, or female-related problems such as menstruation or pregnancy, bhindi helps you the most.