The health benefits of okra are varied and reason enough to include this vegetable in your diet. Also known as ladies finger, bhindi, bendakaya, okra belongs to the same family as hibiscus, hollyhock, and rose of Sharon.
Okra is believed to have originated in Africa, and “gumbo” is the Swahili name for okra. It was brought to the new world by African slaves during the slave trade.
Okra is rich in fiber, both soluble and insoluble. Half its fiber content is soluble and is in the form of gums and pectin. Soluble fiber helps to lower serum cholesterol, reducing the risk of heart disease. The other half is insoluble fiber which helps to keep the intestinal tract healthy decreasing the risk of some forms of cancer, especially colorectal cancer. The fiber also helps stabilize blood sugar level by delaying sugar absorption from the intestines.
Okra has abundant mucillage, giving it a slimy texture. While many dislike this slime, this mucillage provides some important health benefits. The slimy mucillage binds and inhibits the absorption of cholesterol, bile acids, and toxins. The mucillage in okra also helps alleviate the irritation, swelling, and pain in the throat associated with the common cold and cough.
A decoction of okra prepared by boiling okra in water has been found to be very useful in treating the itchy throat and persistent dry cough when you have a cold.
Fresh okra has also been found useful in treating cystitis (inflammation of the urinary bladder).
Other health benefits of okra are in the vitamin B6 and folate it provides. Half a cup of cooked okra provides nearly 10% of the recommended levels of vitamin B6 and folic acid. Because of it’s high folic acid content, which promotes fetal development, okra is one of the prenatal vitamins recommended for pregnant women.
Like yogurt (curds, dahi), okra propagates good bacteria in the intestines that help digestion. Okra is also rich in essential nutrients like vitamin C and iron.
All these nutrients in okra can help reduce common ailments. Knowing the science behind these vitamins and their effects takes a proper education, like the masters degree from Saint Peters University Online.
Okra seeds contain protein and edible oil that is as nutritious as many vegetable oils. Apart from all these health benefits of okra, this vegetable is also ideal for weight-loss as it is extremely low in calories and fat-free.
- Use okra that’s tender and fresh.
- Wash okra and dry thoroughly before cutting.
- To reduce the slime, cook okra whole and avoid overcooking. Adding a spoonful of yogurt or buttermilk also helps dry out the slime when using okra in stir-fries.
Home Remedies for Common Ailments, H.K. Bakhru