Food is central to the body, it works in different manners right from giving energy to maintaining health to preventing or fighting diseases. We are basically what we eat; the kind of food we eat has a direct impact on our health. To be precise, our food, gut, mood and health are all interconnected. What we eat is going to impact our gut and that eventually affects and shapes our mood and health respectively.
Food has a vital role to play in nourishing the body with the required nutrients that help to maintain and implement regular physical functioning. It won’t be an exaggeration to say that just by sticking to healthy food habits and eating the right food with an understanding of their nutritional value one can maintain good health for lifelong!
Our choices of foods determine our health, however diseases are multifactorial but with the right choice of foods, one can achieve and sustain a good state of health. Our food choices make a huge impact on our well-being; a well-balanced diet can help one fighting with diseases like diabetes, cancer, obesity, cardiovascular and many more.
Plant-based foods like - green vegetables, fruits, beans, grains happen to be the best at preventing or fighting diseases. But ironically today, more than believing in nature and how it has designed food, we look out for different concentrations of supplements in the market for protein and vitamins (A, K & C) to achieve good health.
How many of us actually relish eating green vegetables, pulses, and fruits and make these an essential part of our diet? Overwhelmed by the temptations of the taste buds, we tend to indulge in savouring the processed foods that are loaded with salt, sugar and bad fat. Also, the other side of the story shows that we are in a constant search of super foods that can boost immunity, help in weight loss, improve the texture of hair and skin and, etc. And we are even ready to spend a handsome amount of money on the same ignoring the fact that the best foods are easily available and inexpensive.
Having known this fact we still happen to refuse to eat certain veggies apparently because of their bland, bitter and not so tempting taste. There are quite a few vegetables which are lesser liked by all of us, e.g. Karela (Bitter Gourd), Mooli (Radish), Kaddoo (Pumpkin), Lauki (Bottle Gourd), Tinda (Apple Gourd) as well as some of the pulses. But don’t you think you are doing something unjust toward your body by refusing to eat the vegetables that have great nutritional values that are healthier than the exotic veggies sold in super markets? These are locally grown vegetables, easily available and quite inexpensive too.
Now see, what is the fault of poor little Karela - why does it have to bear the blame of being the vamp of the vegetables? Just because it is bitter in taste doesn’t make it a bad food! Karela is a food that fights diseases like diabetes! The white fairy looking, Radish - might smell awful (because of content of sulphur) but that shouldn’t make it a lesser-liked food, should it?
Let’s look into some of the lesser-liked vegetables but have great nutritional value and help in the management of health ailment:
Karela: Bitter gourd is supposed to be the best food to manage diabetes as it helps regulate the level of blood sugar in the body. For diabetic persons, it is advised to add a small glass of Karela juice in their diet to keep the insulin active in the body. Karela contains active substances with anti-diabetic properties and also has a compound similar to the insulin known as Polypetide-p insulin that naturally controls diabetes.
Karela is highly rich in magnesium, iron, vitamin C, and is a great source of dietary fibre. Alongside, managing diabetes it is also beneficial for boosting the immune system, losing weight, lowering bad cholesterol level and for cleansing the liver.
We notice that people avoid eating Karela because of its bitter taste but the thing to understand here is that most bitter foods work as best medicines for the body reason being that bitter foods help to stimulate the digestive system and in the absorption of the food. Bitter foods trigger the production of digestive enzymes and stomach acid that eventually help the food to be digested properly. So, next time if you’ve been served Karela in your plate, think of all its benefits mentioned above, and may be it would help you feel a little sweeter about it.
Radish: You may savour it in raw form in a salad or relish in parathas, but mooli in any form is going to give you the nutritional benefits for sure! Mooli is considered to be a vegetable packed with all nutrients, antioxidants, and vitamins that the body needs, in order to prevent and fight diseases like cancer and diabetes.
It can very effectively control the high blood pressure because of its high potassium content where its anti-congestive properties make it an immunity-booster food! It is a boon for people battling with constipation. A rich content of sulphur makes it a highly detoxifying food. It can help cleanse liver and stomach, and is instrumental in handling cases of elevated liver enzymes and bilirubin levels in cases of jaundice.
It works as a great blood purifier as we are exposed to so many toxins; particularly, it works as a super food for the patients going through chemotherapy as it helps in repairing the RBCs. Glutathione is a master antioxidant and is naturally produced in the body but due to our faulty lifestyles, it gets quelled but radish is a vegetable that helps boost the levels of glutathione in our bodies. Having the content of anthocyanins makes it a great food for the heart that helps reduce inflammation.
Caution: People with thyroid issues should practice caution as it has goitrogenic properties that can interfere with the functioning of the thyroid gland. So in such a case, one can eat it in a slightly cooked or steamed form just to lessen the effect. Also, people suffering from kidney issues and having a high level of potassium should be cautious while consuming its root since it is high in vitamin K.
Tinda: It’s Tinda for dinner and you notice your appetite has suddenly vanished, your mood is shut down and you might end up skipping your meal or worse, ordering out that night!
But did you know Tinda is a vegetable that is packed with various essential nutrients your body deliberately needs, such as - calcium, iron, copper, Omega-6 Fatty Acids, potassium, riboflavin, vitamins A, B12, and C, and sodium!
This superfood is highly rich in water and fibre content that facilitates good digestion eventually preventing constipation and piles, It controls stomach acidity as well. If Tinda stresses you out believe it that it saves the heart from oxidative stress. The globulin in Tinda seeds happens to improve the blood circulation in the whole body.
Pulses: Not every one of us loves to eat pulses but that doesn’t in any way make them lesser in the nutritional value they have! They are highly rich in biotin and are one of the most potent sources of plant protein that make these an essential part of the diet. Pulses like peas, beans, chawli dal, contain anti-carcinogenic and anti-cancer effects. Adding half a bowl of pulses in the diet and particularly when combined with cereals, it becomes a complete protein diet that can positively help in managing cardiovascular diseases, blood pressure, and inflammation in the body and regulates the level of blood glucose and insulin.
The crux of this whole article lies in the fact that every vegetable contains some important nutritional value in them. Refusing or missing out to eat some of the veggies because they taste bland, or not good means to deprive your body of the essential nutrients it needs. Food is not just a means to fill your belly - it’s a nurturer, so how can you refuse the things that your body needs to grow and maintain itself?
One needs to cultivate some novel eating habits in order to provide the body with all the required nutrients. May it be Karela - the vamp of the veggies or the bland tasting pulses one cannot go neglecting the great health benefits these foods bring for the body. One can explore and experiment with new ways of consuming these vegetables like making different dishes with these veggies or adding some different spices to the subzis to make them tastier to eat.
‘Balance’ is the word! Eating a balanced diet with the right food is a crucial part! Only a well-balanced diet with the help of essential nutrients produces germ-fighting cells that further help to boost the overall immune system of the body. If you miss out on consuming vegetables like karela, mooli, tinda, and pulses, it would eventually lead to a deficiency of nutrients like vitamin C & A, and other essential minerals that fight diseases and bacteria in the body.
Sometimes, we have to look at the broader picture and shouldn’t take the things at their face value. Staying blindfolded to the health benefits of these vegetables wouldn’t help you but exploring new ways to make these lesser liked veggies tastier, surely will!
It’s time to reach a balance by learning to love what you don’t like.
The views and opinions expressed in this content piece are those of the author(s) and not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any other agency, organization, employer or company. Assumptions made in the analysis are not reflective of the position of any entity other than the author(s).