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Indian Vegetables That Are A Must Add To Your Diet; Recipes And Possible Side Effects

Vegetables are healthy - and that is something we don't need to be told. A diet rich in vegetables has several benefits not just your physical health but also your emotional health [1]. Consuming vegetables in a healthy amount regularly can help lower blood pressure, reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke, prevent certain types of cancer, lower the risk of eye and digestive problems [2].

Eating a variety of types and colours can give your body the mix of nutrients it needs. On the whole, vegetables are categorised into different types, and they are as follows [3]:

  • Leafy green vegetables, such as lettuce, spinach and microgreens
  • Cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and broccoli
  • Marrow vegetables such as pumpkin, cucumber and zucchini
  • Root vegetables such as potato, sweet potato and yam
  • Edible plant stem vegetables such as celery and asparagus
  • Allium vegetables such as onion, garlic and shallot

Today, we will look at some of the healthiest Indian vegetables that you must add to your daily diet.

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Healthy Indian Vegetables

1. Cauliflower (Gobi)

From aloo gobi to gobi masala, gobi aka cauliflower is one of the most popular Indian vegetables. Out of the four major types of cauliflower, the Asian cauliflower was developed in India during the 19th century [4]. Cauliflower contains vitamin C and K and is also an excellent source of fibre.

Side effects: While a generally safe vegetable, when consumed in excess, cauliflower may cause increased bloating and flatulence due to its high fibre content.

2. Bitter Gourd (Karela)

Khatta meetha karela, karela sabzi and pavakka fry are some commonly consumed dishes in India. A rich source of antioxidants, flavonoids, and other polyphenol compounds, bitter gourd can help reduce inflammation and improve overall health [5]. Bitter gourd help regulate the blood sugar levels in your body and activates the insulin, thereby preventing its conversion to fat, and is highly beneficial for people with diabetes.

Side effects: Excess consumption of bitter gourd may cause liver toxicity. Studies show that the bitter vegetable contains compounds such as quinine, morodicine and monorcharins, which in large quantities can affect liver function [6].

3. Ridge Gourd (Turai)

Growing up, turai ki subzi may not have been your favourite dish. A long vegetable with spongy white flesh containing numerous seeds inside, ridge gourd is rich in fibre, water content and can be consumed to reduce internal inflammation and alleviate cough and reduce swelling of the lymph gland [7]. Try peechinga thoran, ridge gourd theeyal etc. to get the amazing health benefits of ridge gourd.

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4. Spinach (Palak)

Aloo palak, cheera thoran, Chettinad keera kootu are just a minor fraction of Indian dishes made with spinach. A staple food in Northern parts of India, spinach or palak is a healthy vitamin K food containing a high source of calcium and nitrates. It is an excellent source of vitamin A, iron, fibre, low in fat and cholesterol. It is good for weight control, eyes, bones, and blood pressure as well [8][9].

Side effects: Due to the presence of oxalic acid, excessive consumption of spinach is not good for your health. For people with gout or gouty arthritis, eating spinach can trigger joint pain, swelling, and inflammation.

5. Fenugreek Leaves (Methi)

Methi chicken, aloo methi, methi pudina poha, uluvayila thoran are some healthy Indian dishes made with fenugreek leaves. Considered as the richest source of folic acid and zinc, consuming fenugreek leaves can do wonders for your overall health [10]. They are also a rich source of antioxidants, which help the body fight several infections, and is good for the hair, digestion and anaemia. Fenugreek leaves are exceptionally beneficial for growing children [11].

Side effects: In some people, fenugreek leaves can cause diarrhoea, nausea, and other digestive tract symptoms.

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6. Pumpkin (Kaddu)

Arasanikai poriyal, Garo style pumpkin stew, pumpkin oambal are a few healthy dishes made from this healthy vegetable. Highly nutritious and rich in vitamin A, pumpkins' rich antioxidant property may help reduce the risk of chronic diseases [12]. In addition to beta carotene, pumpkins offer vitamin C, vitamin E, iron, and folate, all of which contribute towards improving the immune system.

Side effects: Unless you are allergic to pumpkin, there are no other known side effects to this vegetable.

7. Pointed Gourd (Parwal)

From the delicious Bengali potol, distinct parwal ki mithai to Kerala-style kovakka mezhukkupuratty, this vegetable is a must add to your daily diet. Pointed gourd, also known as patol, potala or palwal has many therapeutic uses. Its antipyretic activity helps reduce fever and cold, a commonly occurring illness during the monsoon. This veggie can be eaten as stir fry or curries [13].

8. Drumstick (Sohanjna)

The primary component of an aviyal, drumsticks are a rich source of vitamins and minerals and can help regulate blood sugar, boost immunity and may even help purify the blood. Drumsticks or moringa are also a source of nutrition and are rich in antioxidants and bioactive plant compounds [14].

Side effects: Eating drumsticks in huge amounts may lower blood pressure and slow heart rate as the vegetable contains alkaloids. It is best to avoid consuming the bark of the drumstick as it may induce uterine contractions [15].

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9. Plantain Stem/Flower (Kele ka guda)

Vaazha pindi thoran, kele ka guda sabzi is all healthy Indian dishes that can be consumed guilt-free. They are fibrous, low in calories and rich in iron and are beneficial for people suffering from kidney stones [16].

Side effects: In some people, consuming plantain flowers or stems can cause diarrhoea.

10. Bottle Gourd (Lauki)

Bottle gourd, aka, laukee is widely known for its amazing benefits. Growing up, the vegetable may have seemed pretty bland for your taste. High in water content and rich in vitamin C and calcium, bottle gourd helps in maintaining a healthy heart and brings down bad cholesterol levels. Bottle guard or calabash can be cooked, juiced and dried.

Side effects: Bottle gourd juice (with a taste) can cause severe toxic reactions and lead to symptoms such as abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhoea, hematemesis, haematochezia, shock and death [17].

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11. Cabbage (Patta gobhi)

Packed with phytochemicals, this cruciferous vegetable help break up free radicals before they can do damage to your body. Cabbages are high in vitamin K, vitamin C and fibre and are also a good source of vitamin B6 and folic acid [18]. Some healthy cabbage dishes are patta gobi ki sabzi, cabbage thoran etc.

Side effects: For people with diabetes, cabbage may affect blood sugar levels and make the condition worse.

12. Ladyfinger (Okra)

Especially in tropical countries like India, ladyfinger is a very popular vegetable that is used to cook dishes and meals regularly. Dishes made from ladyfinger or bhindi knows no boundaries in our country - the options are limitless. Okra is one of the best vegetables for treating stomach-related problems like gastritis, acidity and constipation. Adding this green vegetable to your diet can help strengthen your digestive system [19].

Side effects: Excess consumption of ladyfinger can cause gastrointestinal problems in some people as it contains fructans, which can cause diarrhoea, gas, cramping, and bloating in people with existing bowel problems.

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Healthy Indian Vegetables Recipe

1. Banana Stem Poriyal

Ingredients

  • 1 banana stem, outer layer removed and chopped [20]
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • ½ teaspoons red chilli powder
  • ½ teaspoons curry powder
  • 1 pinch turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 2 teaspoons curd
  • salt, to taste
  • 1 teaspoons oil
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 2 sprig curry leaves
  • Directions

    • Take a pan/kadai and heat the oil. Once the oil is hot, add the mustard seeds and cumin seeds and allow them to sizzle.
    • Add curry leaves and sauté on medium heat.
    • Add the chopped onions and sauté on medium heat until translucent.
    • Add in the chopped banana stem and cook with a bit of water.
    • Cover with a lid and cook till the banana stem is softened.
    • Once done, add the spices, cumin powder, curry powder, red chilli powder, salt and still till combined.
    • Keep on medium heat for 1-2 minutes.
    • Switch off the heat and serve.
    • 2. Pumpkin Soup

      Ingredients

      • ½ kg pumpkin (any type)
      • 1 onion, sliced
      • 2 garlic cloves, peeled
      • 3 cups (750ml) vegetable or chicken broth
      • 1 cup (250 ml) water
      • Salt and pepper
      • Directions

        • Peel the pumpkin, discard the seeds and slice them into small pieces.
        • Place the pumpkin, onion, garlic, broth and water in a pot and bring to boil.
        • Now, reduce the heat and let it simmer for 10 minutes.
        • Remove from heat and blend until smooth.
        • Add the salt and pepper and serve with bread.
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On A Final Note…

A vegetable-rich diet is a perfect way to improve your overall health. From your vision, digestion, immunity to weight and gastrointestinal health, the veggies got you covered!

Story first published: Sunday, September 19, 2021, 14:53 [IST]