16 Health Benefits of Okra
Okra also known as lady’s finger or gumbo in English countries is an edible green seed pod. It belongs to the mallow family and has its origin from West Africa. Its generic name is Abelmoschus Esculentus or Hibiscus and has heart shaped leaves with yellow flowers and crimson center. It is cultivated in warm and tropical temperate regions. It can grow in extremely hot and humid conditions and cannot tolerate frosty and cold weather conditions. The seeds of Okra need to be soaked in water before they are planted. The process of germination takes six days to three weeks approximately and requires a lot of water and nitrogen to be harvested a week after pollination.
Forms of consuming okra
Okra as a vegetable: Okra is consumed for culinary purpose in many countries. Some people cook it so that the seed pod becomes numb and mushy, others stir fry the vegetable. It is widely used in preparation of stews, sauces and sambhar (an Indian gravy dish) as it is a thickening agent. The immature pods, still yellow or light green in colour can be pickled.
Okra seeds as coffee: Okra coffee is prepared by selecting mature okra seeds and drying them up. They are roasted by using heat and then grinded. This acts as a natural caffeine-free substitute which is healthier and easily available too. Okra leaves are also eaten as vegetable or raw in salad.
Okra Seed Oil: Okra can also be consumed in the form of oil. The oil is extracted from the seeds. The oil is greenish yellow in colour and is rich in unsaturated fats. The oil has a pleasant taste and odour and is rich in oleic acid and linoleic acid. There can be up to more than forty percent oil density in a single seed. Okra oil can be used as a Biofuel.
Okra as medicine: Okra is diuretic properties and is used along with many herbs and medicines. It is useful for people suffering with calcium oxalate kidney stones.
Benefits of Okra
- Okra is very useful for consumption by people who suffer from raised blood sugar levels. It reduced the absorption rate of sugar in the intestinal tract.
- Okra is rich in fiber which helps in elevating the levels of healthy probiotics, thus improving the intestinal health.
- Okra is a rich source of vitamin A, beta carotenes, xanthin and lutein which is very important for maintaining a healthy vision. It also helps in lowering the risk of the cataracts of the eye.
- It heals the ulcers and helps to maintain the acid-alkaline balance of the body. Being highly alkaline in nature it helps in protecting the digestive tract.
- Being a rich source of fiber and low in calories, it is a wonder food for weight watchers.
- High in folates, it helps to eliminate the chances of neural tube defects in babies. It is very healthy to eat Okra during and after conception.
- It is a rich source of vitamin C and provides 36 percent of the required daily intake. It helps to keep infections at bay and builds a strong immunity by fighting the free radical damage.
- The Okra pods provide a substantial amount of vitamin K which helps the body to build strong bones.
- Rich fiber and Okra’s Mucilage combines cholesterol and bile acid having toxins produced of liver.
- Okra has laxative properties which help in the softening and lubrication of large intestines. Okra absorbs a lot of water which helps in improving constipation by keeping the tract healthy. It helps in easy elimination of waste because of its non-toxic and laxative properties.
- It has been used in blood plasma replacements and is also useful in keeping the joints limber.
- Okra is very useful, if a person is feeling week or exhausted. It also helps in curing depression and elevating the mood.
- It has a proven effect against Asthma because of its high anti-oxidant nature and anti-inflammatory properties.
- Okra also helps in preventing various types of cancers, especially colorectal cancer because of its protection against free radicals. Colon cancer is one of the most common cancers in the world.
- It is also very helpful in keeping a healthy capillary structure as it is rich source of iron, calcium, manganese and magnesium.
- There are many medicinal uses of Okra and it is also used as a beautifying agent. It helps in maintaining a healthy skin free of acne and blemishes.
Okra is one of the healthiest vegetable and because of its rich vitamin and mineral composition; one must include Okra in their diet. It will not only keep you healthy but keep you happy too.
Storage and preservation of okra
Okra must be stored in a refrigerator in a paper bag and not washed until required for cooking. Okra will keep up to its freshness for a week. It can also be refrigerated by washing and trimming the stems and blanching it for sometime before freezing it.