Many of us are familiar with okra, we as well enjoy its taste whenever it is been included in some of our recipes, but how many of us are aware of the health benefits possessed by this medicinal and culinary vegetable? We shall be looking at some of them in this post. Normally, the okra is used as a thickening agent in some of our soups because of its texture and other characteristics, but it can also present itself as a nutritional powerhouse filled with minerals, vitamins, and some other nutrients that provides various forms of health benefits ranging from treating diabetes to preventing kidney disease. The popular "okra soup" is well known and enjoyed by most Nigerians today.
Also read: Health benefits of Nigerian local rice
The okra, Abelmoschus esculentus, is a perennial flowering plant that belongs to the family Malvaceae and is also known as "lady's finger" or "barnia". It is cultivated mostly in the tropical and warm temperature regions around the world for their fibrous fruits or pods. The dark green coloured pods measures about 5 to 15cm in length, and it takes about 45 to 60 days before it is ready to be harvested. Gathering of the pods is normally done when they are green, tender and at an immature stage. Internally, the pods feature small, round mucilaginous white coloured seeds arranged in vertical rows. Get to know this popular vegetable and learn how to choose and use its seedy pods to preserve their rich nutritional value.
Nutritional Value Of Okra
Just a single cup of okra have been evaluated to contain like over 30 calories, about 3 grams of dietary fibre, 2 grams of protein, 7.6 grams of carbohydrates, 0.1 grams of fat, 21 milligrams of vitamin C, around 88 micrograms of folate, and 57 milligrams of magnesium. They are also rich in B-complex group of viyamins like niacin, vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine), thiamin and pantothenic acid and also good amounts of vitamin K. All these compositions makes okra a nutritional powerhouse and an available food when it comes to the matters of human health.
Depending on the various ways you consume okra either stewed, in a soup, boiled, fried, or even in picked form, be sure that you will be reaping the health benefits of this little green vegetable any time of the year.
Health Benefits Of Okra
1. Alleviates asthma
It have been proven that the consumption of fruits or vegetables that contains even small amounts of vitamin C is capable of alleviating the symptoms of asthma. Okra contains about 21 milligrams of vitamin C per cup. A 2000 study published in the journal Thorax found the intake of citrus or kiwi fruits conferred a highly protective effect against wheezing symptoms in childhood. The protective effect was seen even among children who ate fruit only one to two times per week. The researchers found this to be especially true among already susceptible patients.
2. Lowers cholesterol
Okra does not only have the potency of promoting good digestive health, but it also promotes good cholesterol levels in the body due to its high fibre content. Soluble fibres can be easily dissolved in water, which means that it is been broken down in the digestive tract. Okra also helps to lower cholesterol levels in the body by replacing all the foods we eat with high fat. Okra contains no cholesterol and very little quantity of fat.
3. Helps in managing diabetes
Soluble fibre found in okra is helpful to diabetes patients because of its ability to keep blood glucose levels stable. It affects how sugar is been absorbed in the intestine. In a 2011 study published in the journal ISRN Pharmaceutics, researchers soaked sliced okra pods in water and then gave rats the solution through a gastric feeding tube — a control group was not fed with this solution. The researchers found okra helped reduce the absorption rate of glucose and in turn reduced blood sugar levels in the treated rats.
4. Boost the immune system
The rich content of vitamin C and antioxidant components present in okra makes it to function as a good immune booster. The antioxidants fights against unsafe free radicals, while also supporting the immune system. Vitamin C helps in stimulating the immune system to produce more white blood cells, which helps in battling foreign pathogens and materials that enters the body.
5. Prevents kidney disease
Regular consumption of this medicinal vegetable can be helpful in preventing kidney disease. From a study published in the Jilin Medical Journal found patients who ate okra daily reduced clinical signs of kidney damage more than those who were on a diabetic diet. This is helpful since nearly half of kidney disease cases develop from diabetes.
6. Promotes healthy pregnancy
Because of the high levels of vitamin A, vitamin B-complex, and vitamin C, with traces of zinc and calcium found in okra, it have been known as an ideal vegetable to eat during pregnancy.
These are some of the nutritional and health benefits of Okra vegetable. You might be having thoughts on what will you really benefit from eating this vegetable, but now you know.