Okra, also called gumbo or lady’s finger, is a tall, flowering plant that is cultivated in tropical, subtropical and temperate regions around the world. It has been prized for centuries for its edible green pods, which transform into a thick, gooey mucilage once cooked. However, many cultures like to cook okra pods with acidic ingredients, such as lemon juice, which reduces their mucilage and makes them suitable for drier vegetable dishes.
Anti-diabetic properties — A study published in the Journal of Pharmacy and Bio allied Sciences in 2011 found that diabetic rats that were fed okra peels and seed powder over a 28 day period experienced a significant reduction in blood glucose levels compared to the control group. The researchers attributed this result to okra’s high fiber content, which “helps to stabilize blood sugar by regulating the rate at which sugar is absorbed from the intestinal tract.”
Okra Nutrition Value
Besides being low in calories, it is aplenty with vitamins of the category A, Thiamin, B6, C, folic acid, riboflavin, calcium, zinc and dietary fiber. Eating okra is highly recommended for pregnant woman because of its richness in folic acid, which is essential in the neural tube formation of the fetus during 4-12 weeks of gestation period in the mother’s womb. No wonder, Cleopatra was so beautiful!
Vitamins – A cup of contains 26.1 mg of antioxidant vitamin C, which neutralizes free radicals and promotes a healthy immune system. Okra is also a good source of B-complex vitamins, with a cup offering up .211 mg of thiamin, or vitamin B-1, and .088 mg of riboflavin, or vitamin B-2; both are vital for energy production in the body. It also contains .299 mg — or 20 percent of the recommended daily value — of vitamin B-6, or pyridoxine, needed to produce over 100 enzymes involved in protein metabolism. Finally, it provides 453 IU of vitamin A — necessary for the health of the respiratory tract — along with an additional 272 mcg of the beneficial plant pigment beta-carotene, converted to vitamin A in the body.
Minerals – With 123 mg of calcium per cup, okra provides more than 10 percent of the daily value of this essential mineral, vital for the maintenance of strong bones and teeth. It also contains 216 mg of potassium, needed for stable heart rate and blood pressure, as well as .45 mg of iron, necessary for hemoglobin production. Okra contributes healthy amounts of essential trace minerals, with .69 mg of zinc, essential for wound healing; .136 mg of copper, needed to produce red blood cells; and .470 mg of manganese, indispensable for producing the natural antioxidant superoxide dismutase.
16 Health Benefits of okra
- The pods contain healthy amounts of vitamin A, and flavonoid anti-oxidants such as beta-carotenes, xanthin and lutein. It is one of the green vegetables with highest levels of these anti-oxidants. These compounds are known to have antioxidant properties and are essential for vision. Vitamin A is also required for maintaining healthy mucus membranes and skin. Consumption of natural vegetables and fruits rich in flavonoids helps to protect from lung and oral cavity cancers.
- The superior fiber found in okra helps to stabilize the blood sugar by curbing the rate at which sugar is absorbed from within the intestinal tract.
- The mucilage binds cholesterol and bile acid carrying toxins dumped into it by the filtering liver.
- It helps lubricate the large intestines due to its bulk laxative qualities. The okra fiber absorbs water and ensures bulk in stools. This helps prevent and improve constipation. Unlike harsh wheat bran, which can irritate or injure the intestinal tract, okra’s mucilage soothes, and facilitates elimination more comfortably by its slippery characteristic. It also binds excess cholesterol and toxins (in bile acids), these can cause numerous health problems. Okra also assures easy passage out of waste from the body. It is completely non-toxic, non-habit forming, has no adverse side effects, is full of nutrients, and is economically within reach of most individuals unlike over-the-counter drugs.
- The fiber is excellent for feeding the good bacteria (probiotics). This contributes to the health of the intestinal tract.
- A supreme vegetable, used in treating those feeling weak, exhausted, and suffering from depression.
- Used for healing ulcers and to keep joints limber. It helps to neutralize acids, being very alkaline, and provides a temporary protective coating for the digestive tract.
- Okra treats lung inflammation, sore throat, and irritable bowel syndrome.
- Has been used successfully in experimental blood plasma replacements.
- Normalizes blood sugar and cholesterol levels.
- Good for asthma, it contains vitamin C which is an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, curtailing the development of asthma symptoms.
- It is believed to protect us from some forms of cancer expansion, especially colorectal cancer.
- Eating it helps to support the structure of blood capillaries.
- Some information shows that eating okra lowers the risk of cataracts.
- Help To Prevents diabetes. The superior soluble fiber content in okra shows powerful effects on blood glucose levels as it can help slow the rate at which sugar is absorbed from the intestinal tract.
- Okra protects you from pimples and maintains smooth and beautiful skin. Maybe now we can understand the reason why Cleopatra loved it.