Health Benefits Of Okra
Also referred to as lady’s finger and gumbo, Okra is a nutritional powerhouse used throughout history for both medicinal and culinary purposes.
Once loved by the Egyptians and still used in many dishes today (such as the infamous gumbo dish), this pod-producing, tropical vegetable dates back over 3500 years ago. But still today, many are enjoying both okra health benefits and the vegetable’s edible delight.
Okra contains several healthy components including vitamins and minerals, and antioxidants like B1 and B2, quercetin, rutin, catechin, and epiatechin. It’s also known for high vitamin C, vitamin K, and folate content. Studies have indicated the vitamin C content of okra could help with asthma and even skin conditions.
But many of the health benefits of okra come from it’s superior fiber content. As a fiber source, it helps to regulate digestion and maintain blood sugar levels. The inclusion of pectin also makes it a great choice for helping to reduce cholesterol.
Helps Prevent Diabetes
Thanks to fiber and other nutrients, okra proves beneficial in normalizing blood sugar in the body, helping with diabetes.
Okra Promotes Healthy Pregnancy
An extremely important B vitamin for producing and maintaining new cells, folate is an essential compound for optimal pregnancy. The vitamin helps prevent birth defects like spina bifida and helps the baby to grow sufficiently. Vitamin C is also essential for fetal development. Okra is rich in both folate and vitamin C.
Helps with Kidney Disease
One study published in the October 2005 Jilin Medical Journal found that regular consumption of okra can help prevent kidney disease. In the study, “those who ate okra daily reduced clinical signs of kidney damage more than those that simply ate a diabetic diet.” This also ties in with diabetes, as nearly 50% of kidney disease cases are caused by diabetes.
Supports Colon Health
Okra is full of dietary fiber, which is essential for colon health and digestive health as a whole. The fiber Okra provides helps to clean out the gastrointestinal system, allowing the colon to work at greater levels of efficiency. Additionally, the vitamin A contributes to healthy mucous membranes, helping the digestive tract to operate appropriately.
Promotes Healthy Skin
Vitamin C helps keep the skin looking young and vibrant. The vitamin aids in the growth and repair of bodily tissues, which affects collagen formation and skin pigmentation, and helps to rejuvenate damaged skin. Okra is full of vitamin C. Topical tip: Boil a handful of okra until soft. After letting it cool, mash it, and apply it to your face. After 5 minutes, your skin should feel smooth and rejuvenated.
Okra is used in various recipes and can be eaten raw, steamed, cooked, or fried, or included in stews and soups. While you can fry okra, it is probably not the healthiest option. In soups and gumbo its somewhat slimy texture gives the broth a great feel and flavor.