Commonly known as lady’s finger, okra is a warm-season vegetable that is eaten in salads, broths, stews, and stir-fries.
Besides adding a unique taste to your meals, this green vegetable is a powerhouse of nutrients and can do wonders for your health. Incorporate it into your daily diet and trust me your body will thank you!
Health Benefits of Okra
1. Packs A Truckload Of Nutrients
Okra pods contain essential nutrients – fiber, calcium, protein, zinc, and iron. As an excellent source of these nutrients, okra can effectively treat malnutrition.
Deficiency of these nutrients can lead to various health problems, so using okra is an easy and effective way to prevent different problems.
2. Helps Control Hunger
Okra is packed with soluble fibers that can make you feel full for longer period of time. It has the ability to keep your calorie intake in check, thus aiding weight loss.
With this feeling of satiety, your need to binge will be curbed, so you will be able to lose the excess pounds.
3. Keeps You From Getting Tired
Nowadays, fatigue is a common problem that affects a great number of people. In the past, it was mostly age and sickness-related, but today it is an everyday struggle even for young and healthy people.
Okra can keep you from getting tired. It is packed with polyphenols and flavonoids that promote glycogen storage in the liver.
Okra is particularly beneficial for people suffering from depression. It can fight the feeling of being tired.
4. Manages Diabetes Mellitus
In Turkey, people have been consuming an infusion of roasted okra seeds to manage diabetes mellitus. The peel and seed of okra can lower blood glucose levels.
They can inhibit carb-breaking enzymes and increase sensitivity to insulin, thus ensuring there are enough insulin-producing cells. In this way, it lowers blood sugar.
It has been shown that okra seeds can inhibit enzyme alpha-glucosidase, thus prevent the intestinal breakdown of carbohydrates to glucose.
5. Stabilizes Cholesterol Levels
Finely ground okra powder can effectively absorb cholesterol. It can promote cholesterol degradation and inhibit the production of fat in the body.
Moreover, it reduces total cholesterol and triglyceride and enhances excretion of bile acids. It prevents clogging of arteries by regulation cholesterol levels in the blood. In this way, it prevents heart diseases like atherosclerosis.
6. Fortifies Bones And Prevents Excessive Bleeding
Okra is abundant in vitamin K. This vitamin has the ability to strengthen bones and promote clotting of blood. So, okra can prevent osteoporosis, fractures, and excessive bleeding caused by bleeding disorders or injury.
7. Boosts Immunity And Improves Eyesight
Okra is a good source of vitamin A, known for its ability to encourage the production of white blood cells, important players in the immune system.
By increasing the production of white blood cells, your body will be able to resist. Moreover, vitamin A can improve eyesight.
The regular consumption of okra is very beneficial for those with weak eyesight or those coming from a family with a history of weak eyesight.
8. Prevents Gastritis
According to the Asian medicine, the fruit of the okra plant is an effective natural remedy for treating gastric irritations. H. pylori bacteria can infect the stomach lining and lead to inflammation known as gastritis.
Okra juice is packed with anti-adhesive compounds that can bind to the surface of the bacteria in the gut. Okra juice can prevent H. Pylori infections and gastritis. People are usually concerned if okra’s non-specific binding to bacteria impacts the normal gut bacteria.
However, okra has been widely used in Asia and Africa, and it is reported that there are no side effects on the digestive system. Children between 2-5 years old are prone to H. Pylori infections, so eating okra on a daily basis is especially beneficial for them.
9. Prevents Liver Disease
Our liver is the main organ responsible for detoxification. Okra has the ability to maintain its proper function. According to a study, chemically-induced liver disease in rats was counteracted by okra.
The oral use of okra extracts can reduce the effects of damaging free radicals responsible for liver disease. Okra can stabilize liver cell membranes, improving their ability to fight free radicals.
10. Staves Off Neurodegenerative Disorders
Okra can reduce your risk of Alzheimer’. It can prevent other neurodegenerative diseases caused by oxidative stress.
Think about how difficult it can be to have a nerve disorder. Therefore, use okra on a regular basis to reduce your risk of these neurodegenerative diseases.
11. Reduce Breast Cancer Cells
According to a study, a lectin isolated from okra instigated cell suicide in breast cancer cells. It has been shown that the growth of breast tumor cells was inhibited by 63%.
Breast cancer is a common problem that affects 1 in 8 women. So, including okra in your daily diet with significantly reduce your risk of breast cancer.
12. Keeps Asthma Symptoms In Check
Okra is extremely beneficial for people suffering from asthma. Experts still do not know how it does so.
They suggest that okra’s rich content of vitamin C is responsible for its respiratory benefits. However, there is no evident that vitamin C is associated with the treatment of asthma.
How To Consume Okra
Cooking Tip: To reduce its slimy texture, you should cook okra in slightly salted water.
To obtain its maximum benefits, try the following:
- Okra Water
In a glass of water, soak okra pods and let it stand overnight at room temperature. Strain out the pod and consume the infused water. Also, instead of whole pods, you can soak sliced pods. We should mention that they have a bitter after-taste.
- Okra Peel
Use a lemon zester or a handheld grater to scrape the peel from the okra pod. Consume half a teaspoon of the peel at a time.
- Okra Powdered Seeds
It is recommended to buy readily available dried okra seed powder as it is very difficult to manually separate okra seeds from the pod and then prepare a powder.
However, you should not have more than 5gm of this powder on a daily basis. If you are on diabetic medications, consult your health practitioner for a proper dosage.
An Interesting Fact
Besides being an excellent source of nutrients, okra is packed with antinutrients that reduce the ability of the body to absorb the important nutrients.
However, it is low in these antinutrients, so the minerals found in okra can be easily absorbed and used by the body.
Even though most of the laboratory studies use extracts and isolated compounds from okra and not the whole pod, we should mention that natural remedies are the best way to find out its benefits!