Okra health benefits includes lowering cholesterol levels, may help prevent migraines, preventing constipation, good source of non-dairy calcium and preserving eye health. Other benefits includes managing diabetes, reducing risk of developing colon cancer, improving metabolism, treating stomach ulcers, protecting the liver and reducing risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
What is Okra?
The okra is a vegetable many connect to the Southern regions of the USA, even though its actual origins are far from this area. In fact, the okra (ladies fingers or ochro in some parts of the world) is believed to have originated in the West African or Ethiopian regions, though this cannot be confirmed with 100% accuracy. Known by its scientific name Abelmoschus esculentus, it is consumed by many parts of the world, as its high nutritional density and presence of a mucilaginous (mucus producing) compound offer up generous soluble fiber.
Mature okra pods measure between 2-3 inches, at which time they can be carefully picked (they possess tiny spines on the outside), and then cooked in a manner you prefer.
Nutrition Info (per 100g, cooked)
Okra is a phenomenal vegetables, possessing a level of nutritional completeness not possessed by many others.
Dietary Fiber-2.5g 10% RDA
Protein-2g 4% RDA
Vitamin A-283IU-6% RDA
Vitamin C-16.5mg 27% RDA
Vitamin K-40mcg 50% RDA
Thiamin-0.1mg 9% RDA
Riboflavin-0.1mg 3% RDA
Niacin-0.9mg 4% RDA
Vitamin B6-0.2mg 9% RDA
Folate-46mcg 11% RDA
Pantothenic Acid-0.2mg 2% RDA
Calcium-77mg 8% RDA
Iron-0.3mg 2% RDA
Magnesium-36mg 9% RDA
Phosphorus-32mg 3% RDA
Potassium-135mg 4% RDA
Zinc-0.4mg 3% RDA
Copper-0.1mg 4% RDA
Manganese-0.3mg 15% RDA
11 Amazing Health Benefits Of Okra
1. Can Help Lower Cholesterol Levels
Okra’s ability to lower cholesterol is a popular point of discussion among many local cultures, and as it turns out this is actually true. One of the mechanism behind this action is attributed to the high fiber content of okra, which has a bile reducing property. As bile is reduced, cholesterol needs to step in and replacer what is lost. In turn, cholesterol levels decrease since it has been utilized for another purpose. This is considered an excellent and safe way to reduce cholesterol levels, and can justify why okra will remain popular to certain cultures for a long time to come.
2. May Help Prevent Migraines
While this is a big claim for any vegetables, okra has the substance to back this up, as it turns out. One of the key management techniques to cope with migraines is to increase magnesium intake, which for many people prove an arduous task. However, a 100g serving of cooked okra offers about 9% of your recommended intake of magnesium, making it easier to meet your goal. There are definitely other factors that go into preventing migraines, including ensuring you are adequately hydrated, which incidentally okra can help with too. The mucus forming fiber retains water, and can help keep your better hydrated through the day.
3. Prevent Constipation
Okra is a fiber powerhouse, since even the seeds of the pod (yes, okra is theoretically a pod) are edible. This supplies tons of fiber to the body, which helps prevent constipation and keeps waste moving efficiently throughout the digestive tract. Plus, the water retaining property of okra’s mucilaginous fiber also goes a long way in making stool easily passable.
4. Good Source Of Non- Dairy Calcium
If you are a vegetarian, or someone who is lactose intolerant, meeting you daily calcium requirements can be a real struggle. However, a single 100g serving of okra supplies about 8% of your daily calcium requirements, which when combined with other foods can help you closer to your daily goal. This calcium is essential to muscle and nerve health, as well as in preservation of bone structure, and prevention of conditions such as osteoporosis. Calcium also serves an under-appreciated function in helping the heart to retain its rhythmic pattern and contraction force.
5. Helps Preserve Eye Health
Even though okra is not a highly colored orange or purple vegetables, its Vitamin A content is still decent. Its Vitamin A content helps slow down age related changes to the eye, helps to preserve the health of the optic nerve and can improve night vision. Vitamin A is also a potent anti-oxidant vitamin which plays a crucial role in reducing the impact of free radicals and is even associated with reduced cataract development.
6. Can Help You Manage Diabetes
While okra, like many other vegetables contains low carbohydrate content and decent fiber, studies have actually been carried out on okra investigation its hypoglycemic effects. Subjects were fed dried okra seeds and peels, upon which gradual improvements were consistently noticed after each feeding. Apart from these scientific findings, however, is the traditional use of okra soaked in water overnight, following which the “juice” is consumed in the morning. This usage is also reported to improve diabetes control, through the presence of a compound that has not as yet been determined.
7. Reduces Risk Of Developing Colon Cancer
While it is arguable that okra reduces the risk of all types of cancer, it has showed tremendous promise in preventing colon cancer. Colon cancer is one of the most lethal forms of cancer, with a high fatality rate, so adding okra to your diet is a worthwhile investment. Okra can be considered a “bulk” laxative, as it adds mass to waste and expedites its removal as stool. This reduces the time the cells of the colon spend in contact with this toxic material, decreasing mutation of colon polyps and keeping the tract healthy.
8. Can Improve Your Metabolism
While your overall metabolism is governed by a complex relationship between hormones and enzymes, the way okra does this is to optimize the production of co-enzymes. Co-enzymes are necessary in the vast majority of the body’s reactions, and can make or break them. For example, one co-enzyme can increase the rate of fat metabolism, while another may increase muscle protein accrual. They each serve distinct functions, but manganese is an important mineral in the production of many of them. Okra is an excellent source of manganese.
9. Can Treat Stomach Ulcers
In a strange twist of events, okra juice can actually help heal stomach ulcers. This is based on the fact that okra juice coats the surface of H-pylori bacteria, making them unable to dock on the stomach walls.
10. Okra Helps Protect The Liver
The liver could be considered the organ that goes through the worst life has to throw at it every single day, and eventually it can take a toll. This is especially evident when years of abuse are coupled with the action of free radicals. This could precipitate liver damage in severe cases. Okra is believed to counteract this by stabilizing the surface of the cell membranes in the liver, making them impermeable. This also means that free radicals are less likely to damage an area that could be considered a structural weakness.
11. Can Reduce Risk Of Developing Alzheimer’s Disease
Studies have confirmed that okra consumption helps to mitigate the increased risk some individuals have of developing Alzheimer’s disease, due to genetic differences. These changes resulted in increased production of pro-inflammatory compounds and enzymes, and is able to reduce oxidative damage associated neurodegenerative conditions.
Okra consumption should be advocated for everyone, as it is truly a nutritional powerhouse, which carries with it numerous beneficial effects on health. It is very low calorie, so weight gain from over consumption is very rare. Its relative ease of availability, and the multitude of ways it can be prepared make it a real pleasure to eat.