What Is Okra?
A vegetable many people associate with the Southern U.S., okra is more correctly identified as a warm-weather crop, so it’s found in areas of Africa, where it may have originated, as well as South America and the Middle East.
Okra is the color of a fresh corn husk, has the shape of a spike (which is why it’s also known as lady’s fingers and, in some cultures, bamia pods) and the texture of a grooved cucumber. Sliced, it might remind you of a tiny star fruit.
Health Benefits of Okra
- High in fiber, okra also offers the bulk of the recommended dietary allowance of vitamin K, manganese, folate and vitamin C, as well as plentiful amounts of flavonoids and antioxidants
- Researchers have reported that okra may help alleviate diabetes symptoms, in part due to its myricetin content, fight breast cancer, and impart mood improvement and work as a stand-in for Viagra
The fiber in okra has been linked to several benefits, such as optimal digestive function, low cholesterol levels, reduced heart disease risk, and weight management. Because fibrous foods are more challenging to digest, you’ll feel more satiated when you eat them …
This nutrient aids in the metabolism of fat, carbohydrates, and amino acids, promotes the health of your lymph nodes, and can contribute to the regulation of blood sugar levels. Okras are also a good source of other B vitamins, such as niacin, thiamine, and pantothenic acid.
… These nutrients are associated with good vision, healthy skin and mucous membranes, and even increased protection from cancer.
Okras also provide vitamin K and folate. Vitamin K assists in your body’s blood clotting function and, together with vitamin D and calcium, supports your bone health. Folate is beneficial for pregnant women as it assists in child development.
Nutritional Aspects of Okra
References to the gelatinous mucilage in okra, especially when cooked, are parallel to applications noted by nutritionists who recommend it for people suffering from constipation, as it does help move food through your gut.
Okra is an excellent fiber source to maintain a healthy digestive system and also contains good amounts of calcium, iron and magnesium. It also provides 43 percent of the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of manganese and 36 percent of the RDA of infection-fighting vitamin C.
One cup of raw okra (100 grams) contains 33 calories and includes a whopping 44 percent of the bone-strengthening vitamin K you need for one day, which is important as a co-factor for blood-clotting enzymes.
Nutrition and You7 also notes that the folate in okra imparts 22 percent of the RDA in a 1-cup serving, which is important for pregnant mothers to decrease the risk of neural tube defects in their babies.
To go along with its traditional uses, the compounds in okra help maintain healthy skin and mucous membranes.
Okra’s Impact on Blood Sugar
For diabetic individuals, animal studies suggest okra pods may help alleviate diabetic affects, due to its myricetin content. Myricetin is a flavonoid also found in blueberries, garbanzo beans, turnips and chia seeds, among other foods.
The myricetin in okra was isolated and dispensed to rats, which responded with increased sugar absorption in their muscles, consequently lowering their blood sugar.
Still, the study indicates that myricetin may prove to be an important breakthrough in the fight against diabetes. In fact, ISRN Pharmaceutics published a study in 2012,11
The Journal of Pharmacy and Bioallied Sciences13 submitted another study pointing to a possible link between okra and decreased blood sugar levels.
Scientists maintained the blood sugar level of rats for a period of 14 days, then fed them powdered okra peel extracts and seeds amounting to 2,000 milligrams per day per kilogram of body weight.
At the conclusion of the study, no poisonous effects were observed. While the rats that ate the okra had lowered blood sugar levels after 28 days, the end of the study precluded discovering how long the decreased levels may have been maintained.
More Health Benefits From Eating Okra
Like most other vegetables, okra provides a unique set of nutrients and, therefore, a unique set of plant-based nutrients with all the related vitamins, minerals and disease-fighting compounds.
A protein in okra, called lectin, is also found in peanuts and beans. In one study,14 researchers extracted lectin from okra to test on breast cancer cells and found the cancer growth to not only decrease by 63 percent, but to kill 72 percent of the cancer cells.
A 2013 study demonstrated that the antidepressant activity in okra was linked to mood improvement, which could make it helpful for people suffering from depression.16 Interestingly, Kantha Shelke, a food scientist at Corvus Blue LLC and spokesperson for the Institute of Food Technologists, said okra was the “preferred vegetable” among athletes at the Beijing Olympic Games in 2008, possibly for more reasons than its taste.
“Because of its physiological effects, it has gained some interesting names including ‘green panax‘ in Japan and ‘plant viagra‘ in the USA. The polysaccharides in okra are thought to open up the arteries in a similar way to Viagra.”17
For more info, see:
Is Okra Good For My Blood Type?
Unsure of your blood type? Find out now by purchasing the D’Adamo Personalized Nutrition – Home Blood Type Testing Kit
A Secretor: BENEFICIAL: Contains an agglutinin which modifies disease susceptibility.
A Non Secretor: BENEFICIAL: Contains an agglutinin which modifies disease susceptibility.
B Secretor: NEUTRAL
B Non Secretor: BENEFICIAL
AB Secretor: NEUTRAL
AB Non Secretor: NEUTRAL
O Secretor: BENEFICIAL: Contains component which positively influences known disease susceptibility.
O Non Secretor: BENEFICIAL: Contains component which positively influences known disease susceptibility.
For more info, see Peter D’Adamo’s: Is Okra Good For My Blood Type?