All You Need to Know About the Okra Plant and What are Its Benefits
The food world is indeed very vast and mysterious, especially when it comes to certain vegetables that are not that well known in our countries. Because of this sense of “unfamiliarity” we tend to clear away from these enigmatic vegetables without knowing first what it is. In doing so, we fail to realize how nutritious and healthy these cooking ingredients are for us.
That is why we need to broaden our perspective when it comes to familiarizing and introducing ourselves with these mysterious food groups. You might be surprised how delicious and nourishing these “veggie gems” are. One vegetable in particular that is a bit of a “wallflower” to many countries is the green and mucous producing “okra”. Let us start to understand the okra plant deeper by going into details to what it is and to how we can prepare it for cooking and eating.
All We Need to Know About Okra
Just like any instance that you want to get to know something (or even someone), you need to know everything you can about it. What better way to start than to begin with its origin and work our way up. If you want to become more familiar with this healthy plant then do so by continue reading.
What is Okra
Okra has various types of names. It can either be known as okra, “ladies’ fingers”, “bhindi” or “gumbo”. This “flowering plant” is more well-known in the areas of Southern United States, some parts of Africa, the Middle East, the Caribbean, South America and Asia.
It is an edible ornamental plant which is also under the same family as the hibiscus. Okra is also an annual, upright herb with stems that contain very stiff hairs. The entire plant produces an aromatic smell that is similar to cloves and even the cotton plant. The difference is that the okra has a much larger and rougher leaves and a thicker stem.
In addition, this plant is a “use all, waste none” type of crop. This means that each and every part of it can be used, sold, eaten and become beneficial in so many ways. These include its stems, flower, leaves, buds, pods and even the seeds. This plant is best harvested when it is green and tender. It also has to be in its immature stage as well.
What Can We Get From Eating Okra
It has been said that this viscous plant has a lot of health benefits that we can use. Since it is jam packed and loaded with vitamins, nutrients and minerals, not only can it keep us healthy, but also protect us from illnesses and diseases. It can also help us maintain our healthy state.
If you add okra to your daily diet, it can also help you lose weight even faster. Due to its healthy content, it can also help you prevent certain diseases from erupting. The likes of Obesity, Diabetes and even cardiovascular diseases can be greatly avoided and even prevented.
Health Boosters from Okra
Now that you have been enlightened with the many health benefits of okra, you can start to delve deeper into its numerous possible help for you and your body. Here are just a few of the many health profits that we can get when we start consuming this amazing vegetable.
One of the many nutrient sources that okra has is its ample amount of calcium and magnesium in it. So if you are unfortunately a lactose intolerant person, you can substitute your calcium source with okra.
Another benefit that we can get from calcium is that it can help regulate our heart’s rhythm and even our blood pressure. In addition, okra also has pectin which also help aid in regulating and normalizing your blood pressure.
If you combine a large amount of vitamin A and antioxidants, it can help you with your eyesight and give you better versions. Okra has all of these elements plus a little bit of beta carotenes, xanthine and lutein to help you have better eyesight. All these combined will help your eyes to fight against muscular degeneration and cataract formation.
Okra is ranked as one of the top vegetables with high protein levels. It also has high quality and quantity of tryptophan amino acids and lysine. Okra even tops soybeans in terms of protein content.
Research has revealed that almost half of the content of the okra pod is soluble fiber in the form of gums and pectin. These two elements help your body lower its serum cholesterol levels, thus reducing the risk of heart diseases. In addition, okra ensures an easier passageway of waste out of your body using its mucilage. This particular mucilage has the ability to bind with cholesterol and bile acids that carry toxins in the liver.
Blood Sugar Leveler
Okra can also help your body naturally regulate your blood sugar levels by acting through your intestinal tract. Okra seeds contain blood glucose and lipid profile normalizers that attack excessive amount of sugar in the body.
Having a large amount of insoluble fiber, okra helps our body to have a healthier digestive tract function. This process will also help your body prevent life-threatening illnesses from happening such as cancer, particularly colorectal cancer. Okra works as a natural laxative that does not irritate the digestive tract thanks to its mucilage that soothes elimination.
Lessens Your Stress Levels
The seeds of the okra plant is rich in anti-oxidants that contributes in lessening your body’s stress levels. Controlling your body’s stress levels can greatly prevent it from having a high blood sugar level. In short, having a stress free body will eliminate your chances of having diabetes.
It is known that food rich with Vitamin K and very good for maintaining bone health. Okra has a high amount of vitamin K that can help aid more absorption of calcium. So people who eat a large amount of vitamin K are more likely to have stranger and healthier bones that suffer fewer fracture formation.
Okra has a mineral known as “lecithin” found in it. Lecithin is a good combatant against cancer cells. Not only does it prevent the cancer cells from growing but it also kills it and diminishes all possible sources of it.
When is Okra a No-Go?
Of course, just because okra is a healthy vegetable does not mean that it has no limit or prohibitions. There are several instances which consuming okra is more detrimental than useful for your health. Here are some examples of these scenarios.
For those using blood thinning medications
Since okra is packed with vitamin K, it is not advisable to have people taking blood thinning mediations like Warfarin and Coumadin eat it. Because it can counter the medicinal effect of those medications and may cause blood clots to form.
For those with kidney problems
Okra also has a high level of oxalates in it. This binds to your kidney and may cause gallstones and kidney stones. Take note that most kidney stone type is made of calcium oxalate. So instead of treating this particular issue, it may worsen it if consumed too much.
Currently having medications to fight diabetes
There has been a recent study that shows that okra blocks the absorption of Metformin. Metformin is a drug which helps your body manage its blood sugar levels. So best to ask your doctor first before you start adding okra to your diet.
How Can We Prepare Okra
There are a lot of ways that you can prepare and eat okra. If you think that all you can do with it is adding them in salads and stews then you are wrong. Here are some interesting ways you can consume and prepare okra.
Okra water is a very famous way of consuming okra and all of its nutritious contents. This drink can be easily prepared by just soaking your okra pods in water and leave it there overnight. Some of the nutrients from the skin and seeds of the plant will be absorbed into the water. Just be prepared of its bitter taste once you drink it.
Okra Peels and Powdered Seeds
Peeling and powdering the okra plant is the most traditional way of using okra medicinally. Okra peels is the most favorable way of ingesting this plant. If you want your okra to be powdered just simply dry it out before grinding it.
If you are acidic and coffee causes it to worsen, you use okra as your coffee substitute. Okra seeds can be roasted and grounded similarly to how coffee beans are processed. Consuming okra coffee gives you a healthier and non-caffeinated drink.
Like many other food under the vegetable group, okra is filled with so much health benefits that you and your body can use. Just make sure, like any other consumables that you have to eat it on moderation. Consuming too much does not increase its health benefits, instead, overdoing it can cause more harm than good. So meticulously arrange your diet in such a way that you can have okra in a fair and considerable amount.