Yuck and slime are the first two words that came to mind whenever I heard the word “okra.” I’ve only had it once when I was a kid and all I remember thinking was “did somebody blow their nose in the middle of this thing?” Since I’ve started my garden, okra was definitely not on the list of foods I wanted to grow but because of the many health benefits I decided to give it a try! I grew it, I cooked it, I love it!!!! NO slime, so yes it’s true what they say, freshly grown does taste better!
Okra, also known as “lady’s finger”, or “bamia” is one of the popular nutritious vegetables of North-East African origin.
Health Benefits of Okra!
• Okra Promotes a Healthy Pregnancy – An extremely important B vitamin for producing and maintaining new cells, folate is an essential compound for optimal pregnancy. Eating okra is much recommended for pregnant woman besides other for it is rich in folic acid which is essential in the neural tube formation of the fetus during 4-12 weeks of gestation period in the mother’s womb. The vitamin helps prevent birth defects like spina bifida and helps the baby to grow sufficiently. Vitamin C is also essential for fetal development. Okra is rich in both folate and vitamin C.
Okra Helps Facilitate Healthy Weight Loss – Okra is very low calories. They provide just 30 calories per 100 g besides containing no saturated fats or cholesterol. Nonetheless, they are rich sources of dietary fiber, minerals, and vitamins; often recommended by nutritionists in cholesterol controlling and weight reduction programs.
• Helps Prevent Diabetes – Thanks to fiber and other nutrients, okra proves beneficial in normalizing blood sugar in the body, helping with diabetes.
• Helps with Kidney Disease – One study published in the October 2005 Jilin Medical Journal found that regular consumption of okra can help prevent kidney disease. In the study, “those who ate okra daily reduced clinical signs of kidney damage more than those that simply ate a diabetic diet.” This also ties in with diabetes, as nearly 50% of kidney disease cases are caused by diabetes.
• Supports Colon Health – Okra is one of the rich sources of mucilage substance that aids in smooth peristalsis of digested food through the gut and eases constipation conditions. Okra is an excellent laxative treats irritable bowels, heals ulcers and sooths the gastrointestinal track. It is full of dietary fiber, which is essential for colon health and digestive health as a whole. The fiber Okra provides helps to clean out the gastrointestinal system, allowing the colon to work at greater levels of efficiency. Additionally, the vitamin A contributes to healthy mucous membranes, helping the digestive tract to operate appropriately.
It helps reabsorb water and traps excess cholesterol, metabolic toxins and surplus bile in its mucilage and slips it out through the stool. Due to greater percentage of water in the bulk it thereby prevents constipation, gas and bloating in the abdomen. It is an ideal vegetable for weight loss and is storehouse of health benefits provided it is cooked over low flame to retain its properties. This also to ensure that the invaluable mucilage contained in it is not lost to high heat. Okra facilitates the propagation of good bacteria referred to as probiotics and helps biosynthesis of Vitamin B complex.
• Promotes Healthy Skin – Vitamin C helps keep the skin looking young and vibrant. The vitamin aids in the growth and repair of bodily tissues, which affects collagen formation and skin pigmentation, and helps to rejuvenate damaged skin. Okra is full of vitamin C. Topical tip: Boil a handful of okra until soft. After letting it cool, mash it, and apply it to your face. After 5 minutes, your skin should feel smooth and rejuvenated.
While the “amount of nutrition” from okra varies based on how it’s consumed (pods, grams, etc), some of the key substances in the vegetable remain the same. Here are some prominent vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients found in okra that deserve some spotlight. Each figure is based on 1 cup (100g) of okra.
• Fiber – 2.5 grams. 10% of RDA (recommended daily value)
• Vitamin C – 16.3 milligrams. 27% RDA.
• Folate – 46 micrograms. 11% RDA.
• Vitamin A – 283 international units. 6% RDA.
• Vitamin K – 40 micrograms. 50% RDA. The vitamin K found in okra is known as vitamin K1, one of two beneficial forms. The other beneficial form is K2; K3 is synthetic and should be avoided.
• Niacin (Vitamin B3) – 0.9 mg. 4% RDA.
• Thiamin (Vitamin B1) – 0.1 mg. 9% RDA.
• Vitamin B6 – 0.2 mg. 9% RDA.
• Magnesium – 36 mg. 9% RDA.
• Manganese – 0.3 mg. 15% RDA.
• Beta carotene – 225 mcg.
• Lutein, Zeaxanthin – 516 mcg.
So you see, this is the reason I am now growing okra! My main reason is for the health benefits to the colon. Over 70% of our immune system resides in our gastrointestinal system. It is imperative that we maintain a healthy colon to live a healthy life, disease free and full of energy.
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