Okra has many other names that include bamia, lady’s finger, gumbo, and bhindi. It belongs in the mallow family. Grown in the tropical, the subtropical, and the regions with warm temperatures, the plant is loved throughout the world because of its many benefits.
The unripe pods and the leaves from the plant are used in many cuisines as vegetables. They can be pickled, boiled, or fried. Regardless, the seeds are usually pressed so that they can make edible okra oil.
The oil is greenish-yellow in color, and it gives the palette a pleasant odor. It also has high contents of polyunsaturated fats such as linoleic acid that have significant health benefits.
Okra benefits are numerous because the plant is enriched with nutrients, fiber, low calories, zero fats, and vitamins. It also contains potassium, folate, calcium, magnesium, beta-carotene, manganese, lutein, and antioxidant properties.
Thus, the vegetable can combat many nutritional deficiencies. Here is a list of the nutritional facts about the plant that you should know.
Nutrition Facts About Okra Most People Don’t know
1. Reduces Blood Sugar Levels
Okra has insulin properties that aid in the reduction of the levels of blood sugar. It is also a good choice for people who have diabetes because it contains a low glycemic index that ranges around twenty. In a study published by the Journal of Pharmacy and Bioallied Sciences, it was determined that the peel, as well as the seed powder of the plant, has antidiabetic and antihyperlipidemic properties.
In a follow-up study that was published by the Iranian Journal of Medical Sciences, it was determined that the extract from the plant contains a hypoglycemic effect. This effect aids in reducing the levels of blood glucose in the body. It also prevents the absorption of cholesterol, and in turn, it reduces the levels of fat and lipids in the blood.
To enjoy these benefits, cut off the ends of four or five of the plants and prick the body with a fork. Soak the vegetables in a glass of water overnight and remove them the next morning. Drink the water when your stomach is still empty every day to reduce as well as maintain your blood sugar levels.
2. Promotes Digestion
Dietary fiber is a compound that is good for the health of the colon and digestion. This is because the fiber aids in the movement of food throughout the digestive tract without any obstruction. It also adds bulk to the feces, making it easy to remove waste products from your body.
As a result, your bowel movements become regular, and in turn, you prevent the occurrence of constipation and other uncomfortable gastrointestinal issues. These issues include gas, cramping, and bloating.
Okra is rich in dietary fiber. It also contains vitamin A that helps the digestive tract to perform effectively. Hence, eat about two cups of the plant or make soup and fried dishes with the vegetable to enjoy its digestive benefits.
3. Helps During Pregnancy
If you are pregnant, you can enjoy the okra benefits by including the vegetable in your diet. This plant is especially beneficial if you are in your fourth or twelfth week. The essential B vitamins in the plant help the baby to grow healthily in the womb. It also prevents the occurrence of congenital disabilities such as spina bifida. The vegetable is also enriched with folic acid that helps to produce as well as to maintain new cells.
Another nutrient in the plant is folate. It prevents the occurrence of a miscarriage. The vitamin C in the plant also helps the fetus develop.
Also, the vegetable is high in fiber. This helps to reduce constipation, a common issue during pregnancy.
4. Boosts Skin Health
Many nutrients are present in okra that can keep your skin look vibrant and young. For instance, it contains vitamin C that helps to repair damaged tissues as well as grow new ones. These tissues affect the formation of collagen and the pigment in the skin.
The vegetable also prevents the occurrence of skin conditions like psoriasis and acne. The extracts from the plant contain abundant amounts of dietary fiber that promote digestion. Proper digestion is another factor that aids in keeping the skin healthy.
To benefit from these properties, boil two cups of the plant chopped in two cups of water for up to fifteen minutes and remove the mixture from the pot. After ten minutes, mash the pods with jojoba oil to make a paste. You can use any other carrier oil.
Apply this mixture on the neck and face and let it settle for fifteen minutes before you rinse. Use this mask twice a week for best results.
5. Boosts Immunity
You can strengthen the defenses of your immune system by regularly consuming okra. This is because of the significant amounts of vitamin C in the plant that aid in stimulating the production of white blood cells. White blood cells are responsible for fighting against any foreign bodies as well as harmful radicals present in the body.
Additionally, the plant has antioxidant properties that help to strengthen your immune system. This ability also helps to reduce the number of times that you get ill. Other functions of antioxidants include fighting cancer, heart disease, and premature aging.
6. Makes Hair Soft and Shiny
There are many nutrients in this plant extract that are beneficial to your hair. These nutrients include copper, potassium, thiamine, zinc, and folate. The plant also has vitamins and antioxidants that will make your hair bouncy, shiny, and well-conditioned.
Besides, another of the okra benefits can be found in its transparent mucilage that gives it the natural properties of a conditioner. In turn, the property offers life to any dull hair.
To benefit from these properties at home, cut about ten vegetables horizontally and put them in a pot that contains one cup of water. Simmer the water on low heat so that you can get a sticky texture and remove it from the heat.
Then, add drops of mint or lavender oil into the mixture and wait for it to cool. Use a cloth to filter the mixture and store it in a bottle. Apply your homemade conditioner after you wash your hair, wait for five minutes and rinse.
7. Prevents Liver Disease
Another nutritional value of okra is that it helps to cleanse the liver and in turn, it helps to prevent the occurrence of liver disease. This is because it has substances that bind the cholesterol and the bile acids. In turn, the liver is detoxified.
The vegetable also prevents fats from accumulating in the liver. Researches from the Saudi Pharmaceutical Journal conducted a study and concluded that the plant extract has a potent antioxidant property. This property helps to protect the liver against damage by chemicals.
Therefore, if you want to improve the health of your liver, add this vegetable to your diet. You can also consume supplements prescribed by a doctor to fight liver disease.
8. Treats Leukorrhea
It has also been determined that the fresh okra pods that are also tender help treat Leukorrhea. Leukorrhea causes a yellowish or a whitish vaginal discharge when a person is menstruating.
The plant has a mucilaginous property that helps to remove the mucus that is present in the body system. In turn, the amount of vaginal discharge is reduced. The overall result is an improvement of the immune system that in turn helps to fight off health issues.
To benefit from these properties, wash one cup of the vegetable and cut them into small pieces. Boil these pieces using two cups of water for no more than fifteen minutes, about the time that the water will have reduced by half.
You can then strain the mixture, divide it into three equal portions and drink the portion three times in a day.
9. Lowers Bad Cholesterol
Reducing the cholesterol levels in your body is also one of the okra benefits. A study done by the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology described the benefits of the plant extract in terms of lowering cholesterol and its hypolipidemic activity.
It determined that the plant can inhibit the activity of the pancreatic cholesterol esterase. It can also reduce the capabilities of the cholesterol esterase. The plant also bonds to the bile acids, and as a result, they delay the ability of the cholesterol to be absorbed.
Additionally, all the cholesterol that is not absorbed is excreted through the feces. The plant also contains zero saturated fats. This helps in preventing heart disease as well as other health issues that result from the presence of cholesterol in the blood.
10. Improves Vision
Improving your eyesight is one of the okra benefits. It contains vitamin A and beta carotene which are both essential nutrients that aid in maintaining good vision. Also, these nutrients prevent your eyes from diseases such as cataracts.
Besides, vitamin A protects the eye against disorders; at the same time, it promotes good health for the eye.