Okra (Abelmoschus esculentos) is popularly known as gumbo or lady’s fingers and among the most nutritious vegetables in North-Eastern African region.
It is often gathered while its pod is still green, tender, and at an immature stage. The Okra plant is cultivated in high temperate and tropical regions throughout the world for its fibrous fruit. It often grows in manure-rich and well-drained soil.
Okra can be eaten raw, by steaming or giving it a quick stir-fry to lessen the green taste, although it is often used in recipes as part of a good nutritional diet. The vegetable is packed with nutrition and benefits that greatly contribute to better health, the reason why it is a favorite to many countries.
Okra Nutritional Contents
Okra is rich in vitamins, minerals and various antioxidants such as catechin, epicathechin, quercetin, procyanidin, rutin, B1, and B2.
These antioxidants help prevent damaged cells caused by stressed and environmental factors. On the other hand, its physiological effects are credited to its carbohydrate contents. The effects include the following.
- Anti-diabetic- okra is rich in fiber that slows down sugar absorption to the blood.
- Brain function improvement- it has been reported that people in Far East, Middle East, and Southeast Asia eat okra to improve their brain functions.
- Lipid control- okra has soluble fiber known as pectin that helps lower blood cholesterol by up to 10%.
Okra Health Benefits
Maintains Digestive Health
The best part of including okra in the diet is the significant increase it offers on the total fiber intake. The mucilaginous fiber for instance, helps move food through the digestive tract.
This means that the bowel movement will be more regular and there will be a reduction in gastrointestinal issues like excess gas, constipation, cramping, and bloating.
It also helps prevent diarrhea by adding bulk to the watery stool. With the help of fiber from okra, excess cholesterol in the body is cleared out.
Boosts the Immune System
The numerous antioxidants components in okra help fight free radicals while its vitamin C gives the immune system a boost.
It also stimulates the immune system to produce more white blood cells and help combat foreign pathogens that can compromise the immune system.
Protection for Eyesight
The antioxidant components and high content of vitamin A in okra help neutralize or destroy free radicals, which are dangerous byproducts of cellular metabolism.
These are responsible for cell degradation in the body, including those that are responsible for healthy vision. By adding okra in the diet, the vision will be protected against cataracts and macular degeneration.
Heart Health and Blood Pressure
Potassium is abundant in okra- an essential mineral in human health. It is also important in maintaining proper fluid balance and sodium levels.
Regular consumption of okra can relax the arteries and blood vessels that lead to a reduced blood pressure level and strain on the cardiovascular system. This results in reduced atherosclerosis and clotting.
Okra for Healthy Skin and Hair
Helps Prevent Skin Pigmentation
The nutrients in okra are helpful at preventing skin pigmentation. They are also useful in repairing damages and rejuvenating the skin.
The high content of vitamin C the vegetable has helps maintain younger-looking skin. It also helps repair body tissue, which in turn makes the skin younger and look vibrant.
Managing distressed hair can be tiring, but with okra, you can get your bouncy hair back. Just boil the vegetable with some water. It will produce transparent mucilage that you can apply on your hair to make it beautiful and bouncy.
Moisturizes the Scalp
Okra is a good moisturizer for itchy and dry scalp. Using it will leave your hair soft without any harmful chemicals, which you may get from commercial products. It’s best for people who suffer from curly, unruly, and lifeless hair.
Fights and Prevents Dandruff
As okra helps improve the overall scalp condition, it results in a moisturized and dandruff-free hair. There’s no need to spend great amount of money for commercial products just to get rid of dandruff when using okra.
Okra is an excellent ingredient in many dishes and for those who are not into vegetables, it can be used as a soup thickener.
Many people, in the past and today optimize okra for its nutritional value. With this vegetable, healthy recipes can be achieved that will help control or prevent various diseases.
Aside from being highly nutritious, okra is non-toxic, making it safe for consumption even for pregnant women and children. To enjoy all these benefits, always have this versatile vegetable in your kitchen.