Okra is the fruit from the okra plant of the hibiscus family. It is also a vegetable, and comes in both red and green coloration. In today’s article we’ll be looking at the health benefits, uses and ways to prepare Okra.
This fruit, also known as lady’s finger, is a pod used in delicacies in some parts of the world, though it’s becoming more and more popular all over the world due to its many health benefits especially.
Commonly cultivated in the tropical areas of south Asia and Africa. Despite its plenty health benefits, a lot of people finds it appalling due to its slimy effect on food as it is quite slimy. Funny enough people in west Africa love it because of this sliminess when used to prepare some delicacies.
How slimy your okra dish comes out depends on how you like it and how you prepare it.
Where is okra eaten, and how do they prepare it (not necessarily a recipe).
Okra is popular in dishes in Africa, middle east, the Caribbean, South America and Southern parts of the United States and they all have varied ways of preparing some to reduce the shininess, others to maximize the sliminess.
- In stews
- In soups
- Grilled etc.
We will do a piece on various ways to prepare okra in subsequent articles… Watch out.
Well, no matter how you prepare your okra for food, you stand a chance of benefiting from its rich nutritional profile.
The slimier the better though as the slim has its benefits too. Also, you don’t ever want to overcook (fried or boiled) it, if you really want to have the full benefits.
The following are the nutrient content and the potential health benefits of okra:
- Typically, a (100 grams) of raw okra contains:
- Calories: 33
- Carbs: 7 grams
- Protein: 2 grams
- Fat: 0 grams
- Fiber: 3 grams
- Magnesium: 14% of the Daily Value (DV)
- Folate: 15% of the DV
- Vitamin A: 14% of the DV
- Vitamin C: 26% of the DV
- Vitamin K: 26% of the DV
- Vitamin B6: 14% of the DV
Due to its nutritional contents, okra (which may include the leaves and seeds) offers the following health benefits.
Health Benefits Of Okra
Okra is known to contain polyphenol as its main anti-oxidative agents among others. Polyphenols are important in the prevention of oxidative damages, blood clotting and prevents inflammations in the brain which overall leads to overall brain health, including cognition, memory retention, and learning.
Inflammations in any part of the body could be as a result of oxidative damage due to free radicals. Thankfully okra is packed with lots of antioxidants which helps to eliminate these free radicals from the body. The rich Magnesium content of magnesium of okra also helps in reducing inflammation along sides the antioxidants.
Supports Bone Health
The bone is a build-up of calcium and we need calcium for strong and healthy bones. Hypocalcemia also known as calcium deficiency is a leading cause of osteoporosis which is the thinning of the bone, making it more brittle which could then lead to a whole lots of other health conditions. Adding okra to your meal is one good way to supplement calcium.
Diabetes Prevention/Blood Sugar Control
Higher regular sugar level in the blood has been linked to causes of prediabetes and also type 2 diabetes. As a result of its ability to reduce the rate of sugar absorption into the blood stream and as a result helps in prevention of type 2 diabetes and prediabetes.
Increases Fertility and Healthy Pregnancy
Folic acid, a type of B-vitamin has is found to be quite beneficial for female fertility as it’s an important material in supporting new cell growth and therefore important for healthy baby development. Folates (folic acid) is both important before (trying to conceive) and during pregnancy. For that reason, the American Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that women trying to conceive take a dosage of 400mcg (micrograms) of folic acid (vitamin B-9) daily a month to trying, and once pregnant, should increase to 500mcg and then increase to 600 during breastfeeding.
Adding okra to you diet is a good way to get extra folate for your body. Folate is good also for men.
Has Anticancer Properties
Okra contains a type of protein called lectin which has been indicated in a number of studies to have the ability to inhibit cancer cell growth by over 50%. Okra extracts are also being studied for its potential to kill cancer cells.
Fights Bad Cholesterol
A higher risk of coming down with certain heart diseases is associated high levels of bad cholesterols (Low-Density Lipoprotein). Okra helps in preventing heart diseases caused by bad cholesterol by mechanism of the mucilage (gel-like substance) which binds with cholesterol during digestion and causes these cholesterols to be passed out via poo instead of going into the blood.
Polyphenol also helps in general heart wellbeing.
For Good Sight
Vitamin A when deficient in the body is linked to a number of health conditions amongst which is dry eyes, dying corneas which could lead to total blindness in severe cases, cataracts, night blindness etc. in the same vain, vitamin C has been found in a study to reduce the incidence of cataracts by over 40%, vitamin C also help in making collagen which is a protein that gives structure to the cornea an sclera.
Thankfully, okra contains a sizable amount of both vitamins A and C which gives you 14% and 26% of your daily values.
As Remedy For Ulcer
Due to its richness in mucilage (gel-like substance), it helps to reduce the injury caused by stomach acid to ulcer in the stomach.
For Skin Health
We did talk about vitamins A and C as important for the eyes. Did you also know that this two vitamins (A and C) of which okra provides 14% and 26% of your daily value is required for that ever sought after glowing youthful skin. It’s a fact that a deficiency in these two vitamins could lead to drier skin, eczema, acne breakout etc.
In all, we have seen that okra is quite the supper food for a healthy body and even mind. However, I would like to point out a little fact here a note of warning that:
- Okra contains male contraceptive known as gossypol, and this could complicate fertility issues for certain men, especially those undergoing treatment for low fertility. It may have adverse effect on testes, and sperm parameters.
- In high amounts, it could cause complications in anemic people
- Could complicate issues of irregular menstrual flow
- It could cause allergic react in some people
- It can induce diarrhea
- It causes bloating in some people.
We hope you get the needed value and know the ways to prepare okra as outlined in this article. Be sure to leave your thoughts and opinions in the comments section below.
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