Most of us have been told as children that eating this long, slender, tasty vegetable will make us smarter and help us to get good grades in class.
That might just have been a story that our mothers made up to help us eat every vegetable possible.
But it is true that consuming this healthy vegetable is beneficial to our body. What vegetable are we talking about?
You must have guessed by now. Of course, we are referring to the vegetable either called Okra or ladies finger.
Okra is a plant that produces these green vegetables which also contain pods. These edible green pods are highly valued. In many Indian languages, it is known by the variants of the name ‘bhindi’.
The plant grows in tropical, sub-tropical and temperate climates. It also grows well in warm climates. The plants tend to decay if planted in very cold regions. It is called Okra in African countries as it is derived from the Nigerian language. Outside of Africa, it goes by the name of ladies fingers.
The plant grows all through the year and rises to two metres tall. It belongs to the same family as cotton, cocoa and hibiscus. The leaves span up to 20 cms long and have broad lobes in them.
The plant also has flowers, which are 4-8 cms in diameter. Each flower has 5-7 yellow or white petals. The fruit of this plant is in the shape of a capsule and grows up to 18 cms long. The fruit also contains many seeds.
Here are some nutritional benefits that are attached to the consumption of Okra. Have a look!
1. Okra has high fibre content
Many studies have shown that Okra has high amount of fibre content. More fibre is the body implies that it has more digestive properties.
People suffering from gastro-intestinal disorders benefit greatly from eating Okra in any form. The fibre content in the vegetable also helps in proper bowel functioning.
2. Prevents Diabetes
Many researchers have also shown that eating Okra helps maintain the blood sugar levels in the body. Thus it helps control the incidence and degree of Diabetes.
This is possible due to the high fibre content in the body which is known to keep diabetes at bay.
3. High folate content
Folates are water-soluble B-Vitamins that are present in various foods that we consume. Okra is shown to have a high level of folate content which is beneficial for the growth of the foetus. It is also proven to reduce the neural tube defects in new-born children.
Because of all the benefits that it bestows infants with, it is highly necessary for women of all ages to consume.
Whether in pre-conception, pregnant or lactating stages, folates always contribute to the growth of the baby. If someone doesn’t naturally produce the optimal levels of folates, they are also available as external supplementation.
4. Relieves you from asthma
Many studies have shown that eating okra more often in your diet is beneficial for your lungs as it clears up your wind pipe from congestion and accumulation.
Thereby, it is highly recommended to consume okra if you are suffering from asthma or breathlessness.
5. Prevents constipation
Constipation is a major issue that many people face every day in the morning. It is an embarrassing issue and needs to be dealt with in its early stages.
The major cause of constipation is an improper diet which does not constitute enough fibre content for the body to process and correctly eliminate the digested food.
A good solution for this problem is consuming enough okra every day. Consuming okra facilitates proper absorption of water in your body which induces proper bowel movements, thus preventing constipation.
6. Good source of Vitamin K
Okra is a good source of Vitamin K and plays a major role in strengthening the various bones in our body. Thus, it also helps one save oneself from debilitating disorders like Osteoporosis.
Vitamin K is also helpful in blood-clotting processes. People who have blood-thinning as a symptom of other disorders can use a lot of okra in their diet for their own benefit.
7. Avoids Sunstrokes
Some studies show that Okra is beneficial in avoiding sunstrokes. This is a possibility because Okra is a natural cooling agent.
8. Prevents Obesity
Lack of proper nutrition in your diet is what leads you into developing unwanted fat deposits in your body. This is called obesity.
Obesity doesn’t stem necessarily from consuming fatty foods. So the next time you are on a weight loss regime, eat more Okra and see the results for yourself.
9. Prevents colon cancer
Many people believe that all the diseases in the body begin in the colon. The colon is an internal organ which is located near the intestines.
Many studies have shown that consuming Okra regularly not only improves your health, but it also lowers your risk of developing colon cancer.
10. Prevents cholesterol
Cholesterol deposits in your heart are one of the leading causes of cardiovascular diseases. Eat okra regularly as it leads to lesser absorption of cholesterol by the body.
You might eat fatty, cholesterol-rich foods, but adding okra to the list helps you from preventing accumulation of cholesterol.
11. Beneficial for your skin
Not only does okra have a good impact on your diet, Okra is also beneficial for your skin. Since okra keeps the digestion issues at bay, it is often an important factor to get healthy-looking skin.
The presence of antioxidants in Okra helps eliminate toxins, thus ensuring a fresh-looking skin for you.
12. Good dose of Vitamin C
Vitamin C is one of the most important requirements for your body and is often found in most citrus fruits like oranges, pine apple, sweet lime and lemon.
Vitamin C also helps in maintaining a youthful look for your skin. Not only that, vitamin C is also helpful in replacing damaged body tissue, thus adding to its list of skin benefits.
13. Prevents pigmentation
Skin pigmentation is a common disorder that leads to discolouration of your skin in uneven ways. The nutrients in okra actually helps avoid pigmentation of your skin and thus gives you a rejuvenated appearance.
14. Shiny hair
All of us have hair problems and are distressed about the quality or thickness of our hair. If you have rough hair which looks dead, try using some Okra to get that sheen back.
The transparent, seemingly- white mucilage that is present in okra is what helps you get that shine. What you need to do is boil some okra in a pail of water and apply it to your hair before washing it off.
15. Natural hair conditioner
The same mucilage can double as a natural air conditioner if used after washing the shampoo off your hair. Wash your hair and get rid of the excess water content and then message the mucilage on to your hair.
More than your scalp, apply it on your hair and especially the fraying ends. Once you do this, leave it like that for at least five minutes.
Post this, wash it off with water and ensure that no amount of mucilage remains on your hair. Even if it does, it is not as harmful as artificial, chemical-based hair conditioners that are available in the market.
16. Scalp moisturizer
Have you given up your efforts to find that perfect moisturizer that goes well with your hair type?
Do not worry. The simplest and the most cost-effective moisturizer comes in the form of the very natural Okra vegetables. The leaves of this plant serve as an excellent moisturizer.
If you have itchy, dry scalp, then apply a crushed paste of okra leaves to your head like a pack and leave it to dry for at least thirty minutes before you rinse it with water.
17. Prevents dandruff
Okra helps prevent dandruff by first improving the overall health condition of your scalp and hair.
Once these conditions are resolved, it automatically leads to the better-maintained scalp and thus prevents the formation of dandruff in your scalp.
18. Improves your health
Okra has proved to be beneficial for your general well-being as it is an excellent source for feeding the good bacteria in our body. The name of Probiotics knows the good bacteria in our body.
Not only this, good probiotics is known to contribute to the intestinal health, keeping it safe from bacterial and viral infections.
19. It is natural and non-toxic
A major concern for many people these days is whether the food they are consuming is natural or infested with chemicals and fertilizers.
Many people end up by organic food to save themselves from the attack of chemicals. In this process, they also burn a hole in their pockets as organic vegetables, fruits and grains are fairly expensive.
One of the benefits of okra is that it is completely non-toxic in nature. Okra has no negative side effects and is full of good nutrients. It is also cheap and easily available.
20. Heals ulcers
Okra is beneficial to those suffering from ulcers in their stomach or mouth. It has healing properties and helps to keep the joints of your body in a fit shape.
It also avoids the formation of ulcers in your intestine as it has the property of neutralizing acidity in the stomach, thus keeping your intestines healthy.
It provides an alkaline coating for all the acid content in your intestines.
21. Cures common cold
For centuries now, people have benefitted from using okra to cure a common cold, cough and infections of the lung, including severe ones like lung inflammations.
Those serially suffering from a sore throat will also benefit greatly from it.
22. Helps you overcome fatigue
Since Okra is laden with good properties and the right amount of nutrients, okra consumption is beneficial for those who complain about fatigue and exhaustion.
As a result, it is also helpful to those who are suffering from illnesses like depression.
23. Keeps your skin pimple-free
Okra has a high amount of antioxidants-inducing properties, it has been known to be beneficial to those suffering from bouts of pimples. It also helps to keep your skin smooth and supple.
24. Cures vision problems
Okra contains high levels of beta-carotenes which are required for the production of vitamin A content. Vitamin A is a major requirement for good eye health.
Studies have also shown that it is helpful in preventing major eye problems like cataract and glaucoma.
Now that you have learned about the different health benefits of Okra, here are some useful tips.
- While buying okra, always look at the fresh, green ones that appear tender. If you try to break it in half, it should easily break, without much trouble. That’s how you tell a tender okra from a non-tender one. Do not buy too much in bulk as Okra does not remain as nutritious when frozen.
- If you are considering freezing it in the refrigerator, then always put them in a plastic bag with holes in it for the movement of air. Alternatively, you could use vegetable pouches, available in plastic material to store the same. Make sure you reduce the temperature of the refrigerator as too much cold spoils the vegetables and drains it of its nutrition content.
- The good thing about eating okra is that it is one of the most simplest vegetable to make. Sautéing okra does not require much oil. You can either simply stir fry it with as little oil as you can use and sprinkle a little salt to taste. Alternately, you can also make the same by also adding a dash of tomatoes, onions, capsicums, potatoes or any vegetables that you can find. You can also add spices as per your taste.
- To tell when the okra is cooked, just bite into a little bit of the okra and see if it still tastes raw. Another easy way to tell is to see if the mucilage or the sticky white substance no longer remains in the pan.