Okra is one of the most overlooked vegetable powerhouses out there. The vegetable is sometimes called ladies’ fingers. This unique vegetable is a flowering plant that belongs to the mallow family, and it is highly valued for its seeds. Most people don’t know what to do with it as it has become less and less of a common dish, but it can be quite versatile and delicious if you know how to use it. Best of all, it is a nutritional goldmine. Read on for 20 amazing health benefits of this unique vegetable.
1. High fiber content
It has a high fiber content, which serves several important functions in the body. For one, it helps keep you fuller for longer. In addition, fiber is a crucial component in your digestive system’s health. For better digestive health (and all of the health benefits that come with a healthy gut) it is a worthy addition to your fridge. Its ability to help you feel full can also keep you from eating excess snacks later on in the day.
2. It aids in digestion
Once again, this vegetable’s fiber content is really the rockstar here. Having a healthy digestion is really a major key to your health. More than ever, doctors are realizing the crucial role your gut health plays in your overall health. The state of your gut and everything related to it plays a major role in your mental health and is intrinsically linked to your brain function. Having a healthy gut also keeps your immune system functioning well. Gut health is one of the most overlooked and powerful okra benefits.
3. It is low-calorie
Any food that is low in calories but high in nutrition is a major win. Most veggies fit that description, and this one is no exception. If you’ve been counting calories and macronutrients but eating any sort of food you want, you may want to re-think your approach. Eating a diet that consists of nutrient-dense whole foods will naturally help you eat the right amount of calories for your body. Calorie counting can be restricting and tiresome; instead of trying to restrict the number of calories you eat, try to focus on adding in nutrient-dense whole foods to your diet.
4. It is a neutral diuretic
While too many diuretics at the same time can be a bit of an issue, they are necessary and useful for your body. Diuretics can help you shed excess water weight and help you go. If you’ve ever been bloated after a big meal, you know how powerful diuretics can be in de-bloating your body and removing that constricting puffy feeling. For a natural diuretic that doesn’t come in pill form, add this vegetable to your next meal.
5. It can help regulate cholesterol levels.
Your cardiac function is crucial to your health, and this vegetable contains nutritional compounds that can help lower LDL cholesterol, which will ultimately improve cardiac function over time. Okra contains phytosterols (which are found in most vegetables) which can help lower cholesterol. They also contain almost no cholesterol or fat themselves. These compounds can compete with cholesterol molecules for absorption into the body during your body’s digestive process.
6. It has Cancer-fighting properties
Like many vegetables, it contains important antioxidant properties that help to fight off cancerous cells. While many people opt to take antioxidants in the form of pills, some studies suggest that antioxidants are better absorbed and utilized in the body in whole food form. If that is the case, eating foods that are high in antioxidant properties like okra are a vital piece in your overall health strategy. Its cancer-fighting properties are one of the most desirable okra benefits.
7. Okra benefits your gut health
Prebiotics are a source of food for probiotics or the addition of good bacteria in your body. Your body’s ability to function properly depends on its gut health, which is ultimately fueled by the healthy presence of good bacteria in the body. Fiber-rich foods can act as a prebiotic and help to encourage the presence of good bacteria in the gut.
8. Okra benefits fertility and pregnancy
It contains potent amounts of floats which are important in the pre-conception stay. It can also decrease the occurrence of neural tube defects in babies when eaten along with a healthy diet. Folates are beneficial overall for pregnant mothers and their children. Fertility is an often forgotten but very important benefit of this vegetable. If you want to ensure a healthy pregnancy and healthy babies, consider adding it to your diet.
9. It can stabilize blood sugar levels
Like many fibrous vegetables, adding this vegetable to your diet can slow down your body’s absorption of sugar into the digestive tract. Eating high amounts of sugar can spike your body’s insulin levels, causing a whole cocktail of undesirable effects. Making sure to eat plenty of fibrous vegetables can help to reduce these effects and keep your insulin levels in check.
10. It can help prevent diabetes
Because of its ability to lower insulin levels, it has the potential to help fight off diabetes as a part of a nutritious and fiber-rich diet full of foods that contain high levels of antioxidants. Be sure to include nutrient-dense foods if you want to ward off diabetes, as well as consuming a normal amount of sugars from plant-based foods.
11. It can reduce asthma symptoms
It contains plenty of vitamin C, which has been shown to be able to reduce the severity of asthma symptoms. Vitamin C is a powerful addition to your diet overall; like antioxidants, it is best absorbed in whole food form and not in supplements. The unique combination of compounds and nutrients present in whole foods makes them uniquely able to be bioavailable.
12. It can help prevent kidney disease
Some research suggests that consuming okra benefits your kidney health and can reduce the severity and likelihood of kidney damage over time. Your kidneys are vital in detoxifying your body and making sure that it is clean and healthy.
13. It can help with hair health
If you boil this vegetable with lemon juice, it can be applied to your hair as a leave-in conditioner. Adding this to your hair can give it a shiny finish and bouncy consistency.
14. It can help with brain health
Okra benefits your brain health is considered by some to be one of the best foods for brain function and is often eaten by students (especially in Eastern countries) as a supplement to help with schoolwork.
15. It has anti-inflammatory properties
Because of its antioxidant properties, okra benefits your body by helping to reduce the level of inflammation in the body. Chronic inflammation is one of the primary causes of illness in the body; reducing inflammation by exercise, proper diet, and good gut health can do wonders for your overall health. Because of its fiber and antioxidant-rich properties, it can help be an important part of the puzzle in this regard.
16. It can help with eye health
Vitamins C and A can help with eye health, both of which are present and abundant in the okra plant. There are more veggies than just carrots that can help with eyesight.
17. It can help with bone health
Because of the folates we already discussed, along with its high vitamin K content, it can help to support healthy and strong bones and prevent diseases like osteoporosis.
18. It is high in collagen
Collagen is hugely important for your skin and hair health. While you can mix it with lemon juice or coconut oil as a leave-in conditioner, you can also just eat it to gain the powerful benefits of collagen. It contains plenty of vitamin C as well, which is important for the skin.
19. It is a decent source of vegetable protein
It contains 2 grams of protein per cup, which is not much when compared to other vegetable sources of protein like seeds or nuts. However, its micronutrient content like folates and collagen will serve to improve your body’s overall strength and energy levels much more than its protein will.
20. It can help to heal ulcers
It actually coats the digestive tract when it is consumed, which helps to speed the healing of peptic ulcers. As we have previously discussed, your body’s gut health and gastrointestinal tract are crucial in your overall health.
Luckily, you don’t have to remember all the great benefits of including nutrient-dense plant foods into your diet; you can simply focus on including a wide variety of whole foods that you enjoy and are practical for you to make. However, it is worth including new and novel foods so that you can make sure your body is getting a diverse blend of nutrients. There are tons of surprising okra benefits that you can discover by adding it as a part of your regular diet. As with anything, be sure to find ways of cooking this vegetable that allow you to enjoy it.