Sometimes called “lady’s finger,” or “Bhindi,” Okra is a flowering perennial with the scientific name, Abelmoschus esculentus and is part of the Malvaceae family. It is usually grown in warm temperate and tropical regions for the “pods,” which is the part that is eaten. When the pods are almost mature, they are picked and consumed.
Why you should include Okra in your diet?
Okra is very low in calories and dense with nutrients. It is high in fiber, vitamin A, C, and folate content. It is also a good source of the B vitamins, vitamin K, calcium, potassium, iron, zinc, and traces of magnesium and manganese. Okra is one of those few vegetables which have the highest content of phytonutrients and antioxidants such as beta-carotene, xanthin, and lutein.
The Health Benefits of Okra:
Now that you know a bit more about this veggie, here is a look at the top health benefits of okra.
Benefit #1 – Helps Stabilize Blood Sugar
One of the benefits of okra is that it helps stabilize blood sugar since it has properties similar to insulin. One fiber that is found in Okra, Eugenol, works to slow the rate of sugar absorption within the intestinal tract, which keeps blood sugar from spiking. This makes it an excellent vegetable for diabetics.
Benefit #2 – Strengthens Bones
The folates and vitamin K found in okra help to improve bone density. Vitamin K is essential for strong bones and can help to prevent osteoporosis as well.
Benefit #3 – Great Source of Fiber
Okra is an excellent source of fiber, which helps to regulated the digestive system and aids in digestion. Pectin, a soluble fiber found in okra, swells while in the intestines, making waste eliminate much easier.
Benefit #4 – Treats Constipation
Since okra has a slimy content and it is rich in fiber, eating okra can improve stool bulk, keep the large intestines lubricated and ensure that enough water is absorbed. This helps to reduce problems with constipation. It has natural laxative properties as well and makes bowel movements easier.
Benefit #5 – Folates for Pregnancy
You’ll also find that okra includes many folates, which help with conception. Folates also help to prevent miscarriages, prevent certain defects and are essential for the brain development of the fetus.
Benefit #6 – Obesity Prevention
There are few calories in okra and it’s high fiber content makes you feel full as well. The many nutrients included in the vegetable provide the nourishment you need. These benefits combine to help prevent obesity in those who consume it.
Benefit #7 – Soothes the Respiratory System
The flowers and leaves of Okra can be used to make a decoction that is effective at soothing the respiratory system, which makes it an excellent treatment for pneumonia and bronchitis. Since the decoction has a slimy quality, it is a wonderful home remedy for the flu and colds.
Benefit #8 – Detoxifies Skin
The high amount of fiber in okra helps to cleanse away toxic waste from skin. It includes a high amount of vitamin C too, which helps to repair skin, treat skin conditions like acne and prevents damage from the sun.
Benefit #9 – Reduces Symptoms of Asthma
For those who have asthma, okra offers some excellent benefits. Since it has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, as well as plenty of vitamin C, it may help to prevent severe attacks that have the potential to be fatal. It can also help to reduce the symptoms of asthma in asthma sufferers.
Benefit #10 – Effective Treatment for Sun Stroke
Individuals who are susceptible to sun strokes may want to begin eating okra, since it helps to treat sun strokes. It also helps to relive depression, exhaustion and weakness.
Benefit #11 – Boosts the Immune System
Okra is high in antioxidants, which boost the immune system. It includes important minerals, such as calcium, magnesium, iron and manganese, which help to improve immune health and fight free radicals.
Benefit #12 – Reduces Cholesterol Levels
Pectin, a soluble fiber, is found in okra. The pectin works to help lower bad cholesterol and also helps to protect against atherosclerosis.
Benefit #13 – Reduces the Risk of Colon Cancer
Since okra is high in insoluble fiber, it is excellent for reducing the risk of colon cancer. That insoluble fiber works to cleanse the intestinal tract, which helps to reduce the risk of this type of cancer. Okra is also high in antioxidants, which keeps the immune system protected.
Watch the video below to learn one simple recipe on how to use okra to control your blood sugar effectively.
Credit: Dr Albana Greca