Okra or okro, known in many countries as ladies’ fingers, ochro or gumbo, is a flowering plant in the mallow family. It is valued for its edible green seed pods, it’s flavour is quite subtle, so it benefits from being cooked with strong, spicy ingredients.
Originally from Africa, okra is now widely used in cuisines such as Caribbean, Creole, Cajun and Indian.
Health Benefits of Okra – How Healthy it is to Eat?
1. Rich Fiber Source
Okra’s rich fiber content helps in better digestion, and regularization of bowels. The soluble fiber, Pectin, swells up in the intestine and helps in easier elimination of the wastes from the intestine.
2. For Diabetes
It has insulin-like properties that help to reduce blood sugar levels. Eugenol, a type of fiber found in Okra, helps to stabilize blood sugar by curbing the rate at which sugar is absorbed from the intestinal tract.
3. For Pregnancy and Fetal development
Abundant Folates in Okra, not only help in conceiving but also in fetus’ brain development, prevention of miscarriages, formation of the fetal neural tube, and preventing any defects in the tube.
4. For Strong Bones
Vitamin K is a co-factor in the vital blood-clotting process and along with Folates, restores bone density, strengthens bones and prevents osteoporosis.
5. For Asthma
The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of Okra, and rich vitamin C content, curtail the development of asthma symptoms and prevent fatal attacks.
6. Respiratory Soother
A decoction of leaves and flowers of Okra are used in treating bronchitis and pneumonia. Its mucilaginous (slimy, gluey) quality makes it an excellent home remedy for treatment of common cold and flu.
7. Relieves Constipation
The rich fiber and mucilaginous content in Okra pods help increase stool bulk, facilitate proper absorption of water, bind to toxins, lubricate the large intestines, and ensure easy bowel movements, with its natural laxative properties.
8. Treats Sun Strokes
Those suffering from summer heat and sun strokes should include Okra in their diet. Relieves from weakness, exhaustion, and overall depression.
9. Lowers Colon Cancer Risk
The insoluble fiber found in Okra cleans out the intestinal tract, decreasing the risk of colon-rectal cancer. The high antioxidants in Okra helps protect the immune system against harmful free radicals and prevent mutation of cells.
10. Prevents Obesity
Obesity is not necessarily due to consumption of fatty and calorific foods but also due to lack of nutrients. Okra provides minimum calories, the fiber helps in keeping you full for longer, and the abundant nutrients nourish you.
11. Lowers Cholesterol
Okra contains soluble fiber pectin, which helps in lowering the serum (bad) cholesterol and prevents atherosclerosis. It does it by altering the production of bile in the intestines and aiding in elimination of deposited cholesterol and clots.
12. Skin Cleanser
Fiber aids toxic waste cleansing and Vitamin C aids in repairing body tissues, preventing skin pigmentation, reducing acne, psoriasis and other skin conditions.
13. For Lively Hair
The transparent mucilage imparts life and bounce to unruly, curly and lifeless hair. It acts as a great hair conditioner, scalp moisturizer for dry and itchy scalp, fights dandruff and lice, and adds a youthful sheen to your hair.
14. For Detoxification
Okra’s fiber not only aids the stool function but the mucilage binds cholesterol and bile acid, ejecting toxins, dumped into it by the filtering liver.
15. Immunity Booster
The high antioxidants and vitamin C content make Okra a good immune booster food. Other essential minerals like magnesium, manganese, calcium and iron fight against harmful free radicals and promote healthy immune system.
16. Clears Vision
Okra contains beta-carotenes (precursor of vitamin A), xanthin and lutein, all antioxidant properties, preventing eye problems like cataract and glaucoma.
17. Prevents Anemia
Iron, Folate, and Vitamin K aid in hemoglobin formation, blood coagulation, and red blood cells production, providing a supreme defense against anemia.
18. Cures Ulcers
The alkaline mucilaginous content helps neutralize acids and provides a temporary protective coating for the digestive tract speeding up the healing of peptic ulcers.
19. Treats Genital Disorders
Okra increases sexual potency and is beneficial in treating genital disorders like syphilis, gonorrhoea, leucorrhoea, dysuria and excessive menstrual bleeding.
20. Rich Protein Source
The seeds of Okra are an excellent source of first-rate vegetable protein and oils, enriched with amino acids like tryptophan, cystine and other sulfur amino acids.
21. Feeds Blood Network
Studies show that eating plenty of flavonoid and vitamin C-rich fruits and vegetables, such as Okra, helps to support the structure of blood capillaries.
22. Probiotics Feed
Good bacteria (probiotics), in intestines, thrive on Okra, contributing greatly to the health of the intestinal tract. It helps biosynthesis of Vitamin B complex, similar to how yoghurt serves the small intestine.