Okra (Lady Finger)
Okra is a long slender vegetable belonging to the hibiscus species. The vegetable is cultivated in hot and dry climates for best results. With a humble origination in Africa, Okra has now traveled all across the globe and can be found anywhere. It may be a a very good addition to your diet purely because of okra benefits that your body gets. Apart from being known to help diabetic patient (refer to description below), there are many more health benefits of Okra.
Okra is also known as ladyfinger/ bamia or gumbo. It is a popular and nutritious vegetables of North-East African origin. In the US it is primarily grown in North Carolina. Okra is an annual vegetable belonging to the hibiscus and hollyhock species. It is growth primarily in sunny and dry regions. The plant of okra can reach up to 6 feet. In some households, okra plants are also used as decorative plants due the the beautiful while and yellow flowers of okra.
Okra as a vegetable is the green seed pods of the okra plant. The can grown up to 7 inches in lenght. However, okra tastes best when harvested yound and tender. In case they are harvested later, the pods become woody and too fibrous for consumption.
In recent times, Okra benefits have also been seen or at least claimed to have been seen for diabetic patients.
In the recent past, there have been a number of emails and Facebook viral articles that have been claiming that Okra can help you stabilize your blood sugar levels. This publicity brought a lot of attention to the potential okra benefits in controlling diabetes.
A deeper look into Okra history and okra benefits, it seems that Okra has been used in some traditional cultures for ages to help stabilize blood sugar levels.
In recent times, modern medicine studies have also reported consuming okra may benefit the people suffering from diabetes. A number of studies on rats show that Abelmoschus esculentus (the medicinal name of Okra), may be beneficial in controlling the blood sugar levels by controlling the absorption of Glucose. You can refer to some of the stories about Okra benefits in Diabetes at Journal of Pharmacy and BioAllied Sciences.
Although, Okra benefits in Diabetes may seem to be a god sent for people actually suffering from the disease, there are a few concerns as well.
In one study researchers found out that when rats ate okra and took metformin (a drug to control blood sugar levels), the effects of metformin were almost cancelled out. The composition of okra seems to interfere with the rat’s absorption of metformin. Therefore, it is possible that if you take metformin and along with it you consume too much okra, you could possibly see your blood sugar levels go high instead of low.
Another possible myth is that, eating okra water will cure you of diabetes. However, currently there is no medical proof for such a claim. Therefore, it is advisable that people with diabetes need to continue to watch their diet, maintain a healthy weight, and exercise regularly.
There are many more ways in which okra benefits your health. You can have a look at some of them in our tab ‘Health Benefits’.
In case you want to know more about Okra benefits, refer below:
When people think of okra (also known as “ladies’ fingers”), they often think of a slimy, difficult-to-eat vegetable and so tend to avoid it. While okra is somewhat slimy in texture, there are simple ways to avoid that.
Storage: Okra is best fresh. Very fresh. Eat okra within a few days of buying it. Store okra loosely wrapped in a plastic bag in the fridge.
Cleaning & Cutting: Rinse away dirt and debris using a steady stream of cool water. Handle the okra gently, massaging away dirt instead of scrubbing it off. Pat the okra dry inside a dishcloth or spread it out to air dry.
Use a sharp knife to trim off the tips of the okra. Don’t remove the entire cap that covers the seed cell; just trim the stems. Slice into even-sized pieces. Chop the okra. Slice the okra in 1/4 inch slices. If you cut Okra too thick, they will take longer to cook.
CAUTION: Never wash the Okra after cutting or slicing it, the vegetable would become so slimy that you would have to throw that away instead of cooking it.
How to Buy: Make sure that the okra is fresh. Choose okra that is evenly green and about 2 to 4 inches (5-10 cm) long. Avoid okra that look shriveled or are soft when squeezed. The okra should snap when twisted. rather than bend.
Special Steps: If you want to prevent okra from becoming slimy during cooking. You can give the okra a vinegar treatment, although you will need to do this well in advance. Pour half a cup of vinegar into a bowl for every 500 g (1 lb) of okra. Gently swish the vinegar over the okra to coat all okra in the bowl. Leave for 30 minutes to soak in the vinegar. Remove the okra and rinse well. Dry and use the vegetable.
TIP: Be careful when putting the okra in the hot oil. It can splash up and burn you and it has a lot of moisture content stored inside.
The Okra pods are among the very low calorie vegetables. They are rich sources of dietary fiber, minerals, and vitamins; often recommended by nutritionists in cholesterol controlling and weight reduction programs.
Mineral Content: The Okra pods are a good source of many important minerals such as iron, calcium, manganese and magnesium.
Vitamin & Compounds: The Okra pods contain healthy amounts of vitamin A, anti-oxidant vitamin, vitamin-C, folates, flavonoid anti-oxidants such as beta-carotene, xanthin and lutein. This veggies are rich in B-complex group of vitamins like niacin, vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine), thiamin and pantothenic acid. They also contain good amounts of vitamin K.
Water Content: Okra is 90.17 percent water by weight.
Carbohydrate Content: Okra provide just 30 calories per 100 g, besides containing no saturated fats or cholesterol.
100 grams of Okra contains 1.5% energy from calories, 7.03 gram carbohydrates, 2 gram protein, 0.1 gram fat and 9% fiber. Such fiber content can prove to be very beneficial for the body. Other nutrients are folates 88mg, niacin 1mg, Vitamin C 21.1mg, Vitamin E 0.36mg and Vitamin K 53mg. Other than these, Okra also contains calcium 81mg, copper 0.094mg, iron 0.8mg, magnesium 57mg, manganese 0.99mg, phosphorous 63mg and zinc 0.6 mg.
High fiber content: The dietary fiber content of okra/lady’s finger is known to be high and hence many health specialists recommend it for digestive benefits. The fibers aid the process of digestion in the body.
Controls Diabetes: Okra is known to aid in control of diabetes. It is rich in fibre which helps in the control of blood sugar levels in people suffering from this disease. As mentioned in the above description, Okra seems to control your blood sugar levels, any claims of curing your diabetes does not seem to have any medical proof.
Good folate content: Folates present in okra reduce the neural tube defects in a new born baby. So it is highly recommended for women during pre conception period or pregnancy.
Vitamin K benefits: Vitamin K is a co-factor in blood-clotting process.
Controls Asthma: Asthma can also be treated by including Okra/ lady fingers in your meals. People diagnosed with asthma are strongly suggested to consume Okra.
Prevents Constipation: Facilitating proper absorption of water, Okra/ lady finger vegetable ensures free motion disposal by the body and hence prevents constipation.
Prevents Sun stroke: Okra helps prevent sun strokes.
Prevents colon cancer: It is believed that all diseases begin in the colon; Adding Okra to your meals ensures prevention of colon cancer and related diseases to a great extent
Controls obesity: With regular usage of okra, in either raw or cooked form, you can avoid obesity to a great extent.
Controls cholesterol level: This vegetable ensures lesser absorption of cholesterol preventing heart diseases and ailments occurring due to cholesterol in the blood.
Vitamin C for younger skin: Vitamin C found in okra actually helps maintain a younger looking skin. It aids in repairing body tissues. This in turn helps keep your skin younger and also makes it look more vibrant.
Prevents skin pigmentation: The nutrients found in okra actually helps to prevent skin pigmentation. It is useful for rejuvenating your skin and repairing damages.
Bouncy hair: If you are tired of your distressed hair, try using okra to get that bounce back. Boil okra with some water and the transparent mucilage that you get can be used to get your bouncy hair back.
Hair conditioner: The same mucilage can be used as hair conditioner. Wash your hair and squeeze out excess water.
Fights dandruff: Okra improves the overall scalp condition and fights dandruff. It moisturizes your scalp and keeps dandruff away.
Anemia: Helps red blood cells production and prevent anemia.
Anti-Cancer: The high antioxidants in okra helps protect the immune system against harmful free radicals and prevent mutation of cells.
Bone Strength: Folate in okra builds strong bones and density, preventing osteoporosis.
Gut flora: The fiber helps improve the population of beneficial bacteria in the gut.
Immune Booster: The high antioxidants and vitamin C content make okra a good immune booster food that reduce your catching the cough and cold.
Peptic Ulcers: The mucilaginous content provides a temporary coating to the digestive tract and stomach lining while healing the ulcers.
Pregnancy: The rich folate content in okra can help decrease the incidence of neural tube defects in babies.
Skin Health: With good bowel movements, skin health will improve. Helps reduce acne, psoriasis and other skin conditions.
Vision Health: Okra contains beta-carotenes (precursor of vitamin A), xanthin and lutein, all antioxidant properties that are helpful for vision health, preventing eye problems like cataract and glaucoma.
Other Benefits Of Okra/Lady’s Finger: Improving immunity, Improving eyesight, Weight loss, Preventing constipation and Avoiding anaemia.
Gas: It may cause Acidity.
Kidney Effect: It contains oxalic acid which promotes kidney stone formation and causes kidney failure.
Joint Pain: Oxalic acid may also cause joint problems like joints pain due to the accumulation of some precipitates in the joints.
Okra is known to be a difficult food product to cook, primarily due to its slimy nature when cut. Here are some recipes that you may want to try.
1) Fried Pecan Okra: A great snack for any time munching.
2) Okra and Corn Maque Choux: A delicious dish using fresh corn and okra.
3) Fried Okra Salad: Health and Taste in a single plate!
4) Okra Rellenos: Okra Rellenos are essentially fried okra filled with cheese, sounds yummy! Right?