Sri Lanka is a tropical country with a pleasant climate for the cultivation of different locally available fruits and vegetables. At present there are different varieties of vegetables in the market. But priority should be given to locally grown vegetables. When comparing locally grown vegetables with imported vegetables, it is better to go with locally grown vegetables most of the times. When the vegetables are grown locally, it reduces time taken for travelling vegetables from the field to the plate. So freshness of the vegetables is quite higher than the imported vegetables. Freshness itself implies the high nutritive value of them. When the vegetables are packaged for the transportation for a long period, it reduces the nutrient levels present in the vegetables. Especially there is a significant reduction in vitamin C, E, A and some of the B vitamins.
According to the Sri Lankan Food guide pyramid, recommended by the Food and Agricultural organization of United States, a healthy adult should eat 3-5 servings of vegetables and 2-3 servings of fruits daily. What is the size of a serving? It may make you confused. If we consume raw vegetables, one serving is equal to a cup of 200mL. One serving of cooked vegetables is equal to half of a cup of 200mL.
There are many locally available vegetables. Today special attention is given to the low country vegetables including pumpkin, ladies fingers, eggplant, drumstick, long beans and bitter gourd.
Eggplant or Brinjal contains low calories and fat. It is rich with dietary fibers (Soluble). According to the research studies, eggplant is effective to control high blood cholesterol. The peel of the eggplant is rich with phytochemicals such as anthocyanin. It is an antioxidant which gives beneficial effects against cancer, aging, inflammation and neurological diseases.
Also Brinjal is rich with many essential B vitamins such as B5, B6, B1, and B3. These vitamins are essential in metabolism of carbohydrates, fats and proteins. Also eggplant is rich with many of the minerals namely Manganese, Copper and Iron
Pumpkin is a yellowish, pleasant looking vegetable which is grown locally. It is also a low calorie vegetable. Also it can be recommended for lowering blood cholesterol levels. Pumpkin is helpful in controlling the weight gain. It is rich source of antioxidants such as vitamin A, C, E. Pumpkin gives beneficial effects for the vision, cell integrity in skin and the mucosa. According to the research studies, foods rich in vitamin A help to protect the body against lung and oral cavity cancers. Pumpkin seeds too can be consumed and are rich with dietary fibers, good fats such as monounsaturated fatty acids which are healthy for heart.
Ladies fingers or Okra is also a vegetable, which is regularly grown in low country. Ladies fingers are rich with dietary fibers, Folates and vitamin K mainly. It is beneficial in reducing the constipation, enhancing the bowel functions, reducing the blood sugar levels. Okra consumption can reduce the risk of colon cancer, heart diseases. Also ladies fingers provide healthy, younger skin and hair and make the skin looks more vibrant. Okra is important in preventing the skin pigmentation.
Drumstick is a rich source of most of the vitamins, minerals and dietary fibers. In Ayurvedic medicine, juice of drumstick roots can be used to treat for headaches. Also drumstick is used in many other treatments in the Ayurvedic medicine such as eye disorders, bronchial asthma, epilepsy, dyspepsia, dog bites, gout, fever etc.