Okra plant is an edible pod-like flowering plant most common in southern Asia. This plant is also very common among Africans, especially in Nigeria where it is being used to prepare ‘okra soup’ or ‘draw soup’. It is sometimes called “lady’s finger” because of its physical architecture.
However, okra has sometimes been tagged as a fruit but in the culinary perspective it’s just a vegetable, as it can be used to prepare soup like ‘draw soup’. Okra has gained space in the culinary world as it has become a household name.
Although it can be used for making certain delicacies, it also provides us with benefits and nutritional values that our body needs to function and develop properly.
We’ll be sharing helpful tips on okra and also its nutritional value and benefits that you stand to get from it, just by adding it to your diet.
4 Health Benefits of Okra Plant
Okra is a very healthy vegetable as it contains few calories but is empowered with an immense amount of nutrients.
Also, you should know that okra contains vitamin C, an essential vitamin that helps support your immune system.
It also contains vitamin K, which helps your body clot blood. Below are some benefits of okra you might not know.
1. Fight Cancer
Okra contains an optimal amount of anti-oxidant. These anti-oxidants are very important as they help your body fight against free radicals that may be of harm to cells.
These free radicals are known for causing oxidation damages in the body which may lead to cancer. However, okra contains very important anti-oxidants called polyphenols.
Polyphenols just like vitamins A and C are very important as they also contain a protein called lectin, these protein helps in inhibiting the growth of cancerous cells in the body.
It was also proved, by studies carried out on okra, that the compounds contained in it inhibited the growth of cancer cells by 63% in some groups of patients.
Although, further tests and research are still needed to quantify the assertion that okra is a ‘cancer-blocking’ property.
2. Support Heart and Brain Health
The antioxidants called polyphenols in okra also has been shown to help reduce the risk of heart problems and also help in the prevention of blood clot and greatly reduce the presence of free radicals in the body. These anti-oxidants can help in reducing brain inflammation.
You should also know that the thick gel-like substance found in okra called mucilage, can greatly help lower the level of blood cholesterol in the body.
3. Control Blood Sugar
Okra also contains compounds that may help control your blood sugar levels. According to researchers, okra can prevent your body from absorbing sugar during digestion.
Although, more concise evidence is still needed to confirm that okra helps control blood sugar levels in humans.
4. Prenatal Support
According to our research, we discovered that a cup of okra is said to contain About 15% of the daily value of folate, which is a very helpful nutrient that is essential to our body and health, it is very helpful in pregnant women.
However, folate helps in the reduction of neural tube defects which can affect the brain and spine of developing fetuses.
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Nutritional Values of Okra Plant
Okra including fried okra is very rich in minerals and vitamins which are very essential and needed for the proper growth and development of your body.
It contains vitamins A and C, which will help reduce the risk of serious health conditions like heart diseases, stroke, cancer, and diabetes.
Below are the nutrients and minerals that okra contains;
Nutrients per Serving
A one-cup serving of boiled okra slices contains;
Protein: 3 grams
Fat: 0 grams
Carbohydrates: 7 grams
Fiber: 4 grams
Sugar: 4 grams
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Important Tips to Take Into Consideration
You should take note that people who suffer from diabetes should be very careful when adding okra to their diet by preparing okra soup.
Although from the above benefits of okra we’ve got to know that it’s capable of controlling your blood sugar, it can also interfere with metformin, a medication often used to treat Type 2 diabetes. But for people, for non-diabetic patients adding okra to your diet may help reduce the risk of diabetes.
How to Prepare Okra At Home
Okra has so many uses as it can be used in treating certain illnesses. But it is majorly used in making okra stews and okra soups.
It is commonly used in Nigeria to prepare ‘draw soup’, which can be served with Fufu, Semo, Pounded yam, and garri (Eba).
Recall that okra’s gelatinous substance called mucilage may take on a gummy or slimy texture when heated. Has its benefits, but when cooking you can remove this gummy or slimy texture by cooking okra at high heat in a pan.
You can also pickle okra to reduce the sliminess. Therefore, you can benefit from all that has been mentioned in this article about okra, by just adding it to your diet or using it in making your soup and stew.
Below are some healthy okra recipes to try out;
1. Roast it in the oven for a healthy snack.
2. Cook okra with tomato sauce and serve over pasta.
3. Grill salted okra until slightly charred.
4. Sauté okra with garlic.
5. Add okra to a veggie stir fry.
6. Make a pilaf with okra and quinoa.
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