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
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
bile acids, and
toxins. The mucillage in okra also helps alleviate the irritation,
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
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
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
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
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
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
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