The benefits of okra for your health are many! Okra is a nutritious vegetable that provides a variety of health benefits. It is an excellent source of fiber, vitamins C and K, and minerals like potassium. It also contains antioxidants, which can help protect your body against disease. Studies have shown that okra can help boost the immune system, improve digestion, and lower cholesterol levels.
It is also a low-calorie food, making it a great choice for those watching their weight. There are many ways to enjoy okra, including steamed, stir-fried, or in soups and stews. Give this delicious vegetable a try and reap the many rewards it has to offer.
What Is Okra?
It is an edible seed pod that is often used in stew or soup. It is a member of the mallow family, which also includes hibiscus and cotton. It is native to Africa, and it was first brought to the Americas by African slaves. The plant grows best in warm, tropical climates, and it is now cultivated throughout the world.
Okra pods can be eaten raw or cooked, and they are a good source of vitamins A and C. When cooked, okra has a mucilaginous texture that some people find unpleasant. However, this sticky quality also makes okra ideal for thickening soups and stews. For this reason, okra is often used in gumbo, a popular dish from Louisiana.
Okra Nutrition Facts
Okra is a nutrient-rich vegetable that is often used in soups and stews. It is an excellent source of vitamins K and C, as well as magnesium, manganese, and copper. Okra is also a good source of fiber, which can help to regulate digestion and prevent constipation.
One cup of cooked okra contains approximately 3 grams of fiber. Additionally, okra contains a substance called mucilage, which has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties. For this reason, okra may be beneficial for people who suffer from conditions like Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis. Okra is also low in calories and fat, making it a healthy addition to any diet.
100 grams of cooked okra contain the following nutrients:
- 22 calories
- 4.5 grams carbohydrates
- 0.21 grams fat
- 1.9 grams protein
- 2.5 grams fiber
- 40 micrograms Vitamin K (44% of RDI)
- 16.3 milligrams Vitamin C (22% of RDI)
- 0.3 milligrams manganese (17% of RDI)
- 0.18 milligrams Vitamin B6 (14% of RDI)
- 12 milligram Vitamin B1 – thiamin (14% of RDI)
- 46 micrograms Vitamin B9 – folate (12% of RDI)
- 36 milligrams magnesium (12% of RDI)
- 0.08 milligrams copper (9% of RDI)
- 283 IU Vitamin Α (6% of RDI)
- 0.87 milligrams Vitamin B3 – niacin (6% of RDI)
- 77 milligrams calcium (6% of RDI)
- 135 milligrams potassium (5% of RDI)
- 0.05 milligrams Vitamin B2 – riboflavin (5% of RDI)
- 32 milligrams phosphorus (5% of RDI)
- 0.4 milligrams zinc (5% of RDI)
- 0.21 milligrams Vitamin B5 – pantothenic acid (4% of RDI)
- 0.2 milligrams iron (3% of RDI for men, 1% of RDI for women)
- 0.27 milligrams vitamin E (2% of RDI)
- 6 milligrams Sodium (>1% of RDI)
- 0.4 micrograms Selenium (1% of RDI)
- 170 micrograms Carotene, beta
Health benefits of okra
Okra is a nutrient-rich vegetable that boasts a variety of health benefits. It is an excellent source of dietary fiber, which can help to regulate digestion and prevent constipation. In addition, okra contains antioxidant compounds that may help to protect against certain chronic diseases, such as heart disease and cancer. While okra can be enjoyed cooked or raw, it is important to note that cooking may help to increase its nutrient absorption.
It also contains unique compounds known as mucilages, which can have various health benefits. Mucilages are gel-like substances that are found in the seeds and mucous membranes of okra. These compounds can help to relieve constipation and diarrhea by absorbing water and bulking up stools. Mucilages may also help to lower cholesterol levels by binding to bile acids and preventing their absorption. In addition, some test-tube studies suggest that mucilages can inhibit the growth of cancer cells.
1. Promotes heart health and normalizes cholesterol levels
Okra is a nutrient-rich vegetable that offers numerous health benefits. One of the most notable effects of okra is its ability to promote heart health and normalize cholesterol levels. This is largely due to the soluble fiber content of okra, which helps to reduce cholesterol and prevent cardiovascular diseases.
A review of scientific literature points to the pectin fiber in okra as being particularly effective in reducing high blood cholesterol. Okra has a stronger affinity for cholesterol and toxins than other types of vegetable gums, making it easier for the liver to get rid of them. When mucilage is used as a plasma substitute or blood volume extender, it has additional therapeutic applications. Ultimately, okra is an important food for maintaining overall health and preventing chronic disease.
2. The antioxidant properties are beneficial to your vision
Okra pods are a good source of essential nutrients for maintaining healthy vision, such as vitamin A, C, and beta-carotene. Additionally, okra’s antioxidant properties may help to protect the eyes from degenerative diseases. These nutrients are vital for sustaining healthy eyesight and preventing eye-related illnesses.
3. Fights cancer
Okra contains antioxidants called polyphenols, including vitamin C and vitamin A, which may help fight cancer. Okra also contains a protein called lectin, which studies have shown may inhibit cancer cell growth in humans. In one study, okra plant seed extract has been found to have a cytotoxic effect on cancer cells, with the highest effect observed on human breast cancer cells.
4. It aids in the maintenance of blood sugar levels
Okra helps to regulate blood sugar levels by controlling the rate of sugar absorption from the intestines. The seeds of okra contain glucose-normalizing and lipid-profile qualities which may help in the prevention of diabetes. A study conducted by researchers in India found that when rats were fed dried and ground okra peels and seeds, their blood sugar levels decreased. Similarly, another group of rats showed a gradual decrease in blood sugar levels after being fed okra extract for 10 days.
There have been numerous studies conducted on this topic, and many diabetics have reported that after cutting up raw okra into little pieces and soaking them in water overnight, followed by drinking the resulting juice in the morning, their blood sugar levels had dropped. In fact, roasted seeds have long been used in parts of Turkey as a traditional diabetes cure. This proves that okra can be extremely beneficial for those who suffer from diabetes and plays an important role in maintaining healthy blood sugar levels.
5. Fiber-rich and beneficial to gut health
Okra is a rich source of insoluble fiber, which helps to keep the intestinal tract healthy. This in turn decreases the risk of some forms of cancer, particularly colorectal cancer. Additionally, okra has detoxifying properties for the liver, as well as chemo-preventative activities and antibacterial that help gut health and normal digestion.
One study found that okra consumption can stimulate communication between the microbiota-gut-brain axis via regulation of inflammation response. Furthermore, this vegetable is adding bulk to stools, which acts as a natural laxative and prevents constipation. The mucilage, unlike harsh laxatives that can irritate the intestine, is relaxing and aids in the removal of waste. Consequently, okra consumption offers numerous solutions for gut health problems.
6. Good source of Vitamin K
Vitamin K is an essential nutrient that helps blood clotting and promotes bone health. While it is found in a variety of foods, including leafy green vegetables, broccoli, and potatoes, okra is one of the best sources of Vitamin K. Just one cup of cooked okra contains near 100% of the recommended daily intake for Vitamin K. In addition, it has been shown to help with cognitive function and diabetes prevention. If you’re looking to increase your intake of Vitamin K, adding okra to your diet is a great way to do it.
7. Good Source of Calcium and Magnesium
Okra is a good source of calcium and magnesium, two minerals that are essential for health. Calcium is necessary for bone growth and development, while magnesium helps to regulate blood pressure and keep the heart-healthy. Getting enough of these two minerals is especially important for women, who are at a higher risk of developing osteoporosis.
8. Good Source of Protein
Okra is a good source of protein. The unique amino acid composition of the seeds found in okra makes it comparable to soybeans, another popular plant-based protein source. Providing essential amino acids that must be obtained through diet, okra presents a nutritional option for those looking for an alternative to animal-based proteins. The high dietary fiber, plant protein, and other nutrient content found in okra offer numerous health benefits, making it a well-rounded addition to any diet.
What to look for when buying okra?
When buying okra, look for pods that are dark green, firm, and relatively small. Avoid okra that is yellowing or wilted, as this is a sign of age. If the okra is too large, it may be tough and fibrous. The best way to test for doneness is to cut into the pod; if it is still white in the center, it needs to cook more.
Fresh okra is often sold with the stem still attached. While not strictly necessary, the stem can be used as a helpful guide when cutting the okra into pieces. When storing okra, place it in a perforated plastic bag and store in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator; it should keep for two to three days.
When it’s Best?
Many people think of okra as a summer vegetable, but it can actually be harvested year-round in many parts of the world. Depending on the variety, okra plants can produce pods for two to three months at a time. In warm climates, okra may grow multiple crops per year. For the best flavor, okra should be harvested when the pods are young and tender.
Pods that are more than four inches long are often tough and fibrous. To harvest okra, cut the stem about an inch above the pod. If you plan to cook the okra right away, it can be stored in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to three days. If you need to store it for longer, you can freeze the pods whole or cut them into pieces. When cooked properly, okra is an extremely versatile vegetable that can be used in soups, stews, and even salads. With its unique flavor and texture, it’s no wonder that this humble plant has been cherished by cooks for centuries.
How to use okra(Recipes)
Okra is a popular vegetable that can be used in a variety of recipes. Here are three delicious ways to enjoy okra:
1. Fried Okra: This dish is a popular Southern classic that makes a great side dish or appetizer. To fry okra, you will need 1 pound of fresh okra, 1 cup of cornmeal, 1 egg, ½ cup of milk, and vegetable oil for frying. Start by cutting the okra into ½-inch pieces. In a bowl, whisk together the cornmeal, egg, and milk. Dip the okra pieces in the batter and then coat with additional cornmeal. Fry in hot oil until golden brown and crisp. Serve with your favorite dipping sauce.
2. Okra and Tomato Stew: This stew is a flavorful and hearty dish that is perfect for a winter meal. To make it, you will need 1 pound of diced okra, 1 can of crushed tomatoes, 1 onion, 3 cloves of garlic, 1 teaspoon of cumin, and 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Start by sautéing the onions and garlic in the olive oil until they are soft. Then add the okra and cumin and cook for 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and bring the stew to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Serve with rice or bread.
3. Roasted Okra: This simple recipe makes a great side dish or snack. Just toss sliced okra with olive oil and your favorite spices, then roast in a hot oven until crispy. Enjoy as-is, or dip in hummus or tzatziki sauce.
Risks and Side Effects
Okra contains solanine, a compound that can cause gastrointestinal distress in some people. Okra is also high in vitamin K, which can interact with blood thinners. In addition, okra contains a good amount of fructans, which can cause bloating and gas in people with irritable bowel syndrome.
Finally, okra is also high in oxalates, which can increase the risk of kidney stones. Although allergic reactions to this plant are rare, they have been reported. Therefore, it is important to consult with a healthcare provider before consuming okra if you have any allergies or medical conditions.
Okra is a nutrient-rich vegetable that offers a variety of health benefits. Studies have shown that okra can help to lower cholesterol levels, improve blood sugar control, and reduce inflammation. Okra is also a good source of vitamins K and C, as well as dietary fiber. When cooked, okra is a delicious and healthy addition to any meal. For those looking to improve their overall health, adding okra to their diet is a great way to start.
By NutriWins team