Healing properties of vegetables

Published On: November 1, 2018 01:00 AM NPT By: Dr Aruna Uprety

My grandmother used to give us banana and yogurt when we had diarrhea. She had the knowledge to use banana as medicine from her grandmother

Rainbow salad prepared by one of my friends, Ms. Sharada Gyawali, is big hit in our circle. We request her to prepare the salad whenever we meet in her house.  Previously a consultant for the Asian Development Bank, Sharada is now working on a book about food as a medium for better health and ways to avoid common health issues caused by unhealthy lifestyle.  

From her inspiration, I have been thinking about ways to provide ideas to the public about food as a healing source. There is a saying, “your food is your medicine.”  I have tried food to combat age-related health issues.  Diabetes runs in my family and I have been able to avoid it till date and I am now 60. I also avoid deep-fried and junk food, hoping that it will help me stay fit and avoid being diabetic for a long time to come. 

Vegetable as medicine 

I get vegetables and fruits every day as do most Nepali households, but some of the vegetables are not liked by family members and I have to convince them to eat because they are nutritious.  One of them is eggplant. It is inexpensive but nutritious, with lots of medicinal impact. It contains a high level of potassium and calcium and is good for bone health. For women, calcium is a must. Eggplant contains Vitamin A, which is needed for good eye sight, healthy skin and hair. It also has high iron contain that is helpful to fight anemia. This is a must vegetable-fruit for pregnant women and malnourished children. 

 Fruits and eggplants are high in fiber which lowers blood pressure by slowing the rate of digestion and absorption of sugar in the body. Studies have shown that natural plant compounds, found in eggplant, may reduce sugar absorption and increase insulin secretion and can help lower blood sugar. Eggplants can be eaten in many ways. I remember my mother making eggplant with yogurt and this dish was known as raita; healthy and tasty. We could use it with rice or chapatti and even with bitten rice. Yogurt did add value to its nutrients.  I am surprised that many think eggplant as a ‘cheap’ and tasteless vegetable and avoid it. 

After 60 and with 32 years of work experience as a public health professional, I feel that when we depart from our healthy traditions, we seem to depart from science and from practices that are good for our health. 

Similarly, banana has been used as food during fasting, for children as a weaning food, for breakfast with milk. It is good for people who suffer from high blood pressure as it has lots of potassium. 

My grandmother used to give us banana and yogurt when we had diarrhea. My grandmother had gained the knowledge to use banana as medicine from her grandmother. What a beautiful way to transfer the knowledge. Both yogurt and banana help hydrate and provide nutrition. 

Source of vitamins

Potato is a cheap vegetable and many of us never think about it having medicinal and nutrition value. Potato can also be eaten raw but needs to be chopped properly. If potato is roasted and boiled with skin, that helps to retain all the nutrients. If potato is eaten with skin and not over fried, it is a good healthy food, and has medicinal qualities.  Boiled and smashed potato can be given to children of any age. It has carbohydrate, vitamin C, A, potassium and fiber. Potato can be used to make salad, soup, curry and can be combined with sprout beans. Chukoni, a famous recipe from Palpa, is made from Potato and is very healthy. People who are overweight or have diabetes should not eat too much potato. 

One of my friends taught me that if few drops of onion juice are poured inside nose during common cold, it unblocks the nose. It is initially very painful, but nasal block is quickly gone and the patient is relieved. I have used it and find very it useful. Onion has anti –inflammatory power and it also has anti-oxidant properties. 

During stomach problems, onion, yogurt and turmeric powder and garlic can help. During summer season, it can be used often as it has cooling effect as well. In Tarai region of Nepal, a piece of onion is used served in lunch and in India house wives cannot imagine their kitchen without having a stock of onion.  Onion has vitamin C and fiber, as well as micro nutrients like vitamin A, zinc and magnesium. 

I urge everyone to use vegetables as food and medicine that have been given to us by the Mother Nature. Let us avoid junk food and resort to food that we have long been eating.

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