10 Okra Health Benefits you need to know about
It is green with a little bit of fuzz on its skin, slimy on the inside and looks like a finger. Does not sound too appetizing, right?
These could be the reasons why a lot of people tend to avoid eating the vegetable that is okra, or more popularly known as lady’s finger or gumbo.
But if cooked right by simply boiling or grilling it on its own or fried in a batter, it is actually not that bad and has a neutral taste that will not overpower your taste buds. What might even encourage you is that there are tons of okra health benefits that you can get from eating it.
Okra is usually available fresh year-round and can also be found frozen, pickled or canned.
When you are buying fresh okra, look for young pods that are bruise-free, tender and fresh. It is even best to get the ones that are no more than 4 inches long and has a bright green color.
To preserve its freshness and health benefits, it is best to store it inside a paper bag and place it in the refrigerator and not the freezer.
Here is a useful video overview of some main okra benefits:
Even with just a quick glance at the nutritional value of okra, as posted in the USDA Nutrient Database, you will realize that this often-disregarded vegetable is packed with essential vitamins and minerals. Particularly, it contains the recommended daily value of fiber and high levels of Vitamin C and Vitamin K.
Excellent for Weight Loss
Okra is often recommended by dietitians to control cholesterol and in weight loss programs because it is low in calorie, contains no saturated fats and a rich source of dietary fiber.
The pods of okra contain large amount of Vitamin A, beta-carotene, xanthine and lutein. These nutrients and antioxidants are essential for good eye health and promote good vision. It can help prevent eye problems like glaucoma and cataract.
Promotes Healthy-looking Skin
The lady’s fingers contain essential skin nutrients that could very well make it the elixir to youth. Its Vitamin A content helps improve skin conditions and reduce pimples and acne. It also contains loads of Vitamin C, which is another essential nutrient in promoting glowing skin.
It helps in the repair of body tissues and stimulates collagen formation, which is one of the building blocks that make your skin firm and plump. This helps reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and prevents skin pigmentation making your skin look young and radiant.
Detoxifies and Cleanses Your Digestive System
There are two things in okra that make it a natural detoxifier. Its high soluble fiber content helps ease the digestive system and prevents any type of irregular bowel movement. It helps in the absorption of water and protects you from constipation, gassiness and bloating. It also aids in improving the population of beneficial bacteria in your tummy.
In addition, the mucus-like substance that makes the pods of okra slimy helps trap excess cholesterol, bile and toxins and slip it through the stool. Because of these, it reduces the risk of colon cancer and promotes over all healthy digestive function.
Excellent Bone Builder
The folate and other B Vitamins in okra build strong bones and density, which helps prevent osteoporosis. Its high levels of Vitamin K, which is a co-factor for blood clotting enzymes, is needed for strengthening the bones.
Promotes Healthy Pregnancy
Because of its significant amount of folate, okra is also recommended for pregnant women to help ensure the baby’s growth and prevent neural defects and spinal bifida in infants. Folate is also essential in optimum pregnancy because it produces and maintains new cells.
Helps Prevent Kidney Disease
In a clinical study conducted in October 2005 of okra in treatment of diabetic nephropathy showed that it has an effect on liver health. The study posted in Jilin Medical Journal reported that, “those who are okra daily reduced clinical signs of kidney damage more than those that simply ate a diabetic diet.”
The Vitamin C content in okra works as a treatment for inflammations and asthma. It is said that it may help reduce the wheezing symptoms in children and in susceptible adults. In fact, it is known as one of the most common natural home remedies for asthma.
Healthy hair Treatment
If you are suffering from dry hair, okra makes for an excellent hair treatment courtesy of its transparent mucilage. By slicing and boiling okra in water until very slimy, you can use it to rinse and condition your hair and moisturize your scalp.
This helps to bring back the bounce in your hair and can even keep dandruff away. You can add a drop of lemon into the okra hair treatment to give it a fresh citrus scent.
Stimulates Nerve Function
It is also high in potassium that helps maintain balance of fluids required in effective nerve functioning. It helps in improving metabolism and proper transferring of nerve impulses.
So the next time you see a piece of okra, look past its strange appearance and slimy texture and see it in its amazing health giving glory.