Vegetables and Vegetables

Health Benefits of Okra

The okra Abelmoschus esculentus L. Moench, from the Malvaceae family, is a plant of African origin that was brought to Brazil by slaves, and can reach about three meters in height. Its fruit is known as okra , or quingombô, gombô, quibombô, among other popular names.

Okra is a conical fruit approximately ten centimeters long, green in color and with hairs. Inside there are several whitish colored seeds with a rounded shape.

In Brazil, okra is used mainly as an ingredient in typical regional dishes such as caruru, okra cooked with dry shrimp, a dish of Bahian cuisine, chicken with okra and braised meat with okra, typical dishes of Minas Gerais cuisine.

The health benefits of okra are many. It has lots of vitamins, calcium, fiber and is effective against bowel, bladder and kidney infections. Okra has anti-ulcer, anti-cancer, acid neutralizing properties, helps improve burns, lowers cholesterol and reduces heart attacks.

In addition to dishes from regional cuisines, okra can be included in the menu easily, as it is used to prepare various recipes. Despite all the benefits, some people do not enjoy okra due to the characteristic “drool” of this fruit. The baba of okra is rich in fiber and vitamins, but for those who do not, are preparing ways in which it is softened.

To be used in cooking, okra must be harvested at the right time, before maturation, as after that it becomes hard and fibrous. Harvesting usually starts between 60 to 80 days after planting and the plant develops best at temperatures ranging between 22 and 25°C.

OKRA BENEFITS AND HARMS

The properties of okra are explained by the amount of nutrients it has. Okra is a source of vitamin A, vitamin B1 (Thiamin), vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B3 (niacin), vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid), vitamin C (ascorbic acid), vitamin E (tocopherol) and the carotenoids beta- carotene, zeaxanthin and lutein. It also has the amount of minerals manganese, magnesium, copper, iron, phosphorus, calcium, zinc and selenium.

Given so many benefits, okra should be consumed with caution by individuals who have a history of kidney stone, because oxalate has high levels of oxalate, a substance that facilitates the formation of stones in the kidney and gallbladder. However, if consumed along with a balanced diet and not exaggerated in quantity, it will not cause any harm.

1.Helps to lose weight

Consuming okra slims down. In addition to being low in calories and thus able to be included in the diet without guilt, okra is rich in fiber, especially the so-called “drool” from okra. These fibers slow down the gastric emptying process and thus promote a feeling of satiety, causing less food to be consumed.

Fiber also improves intestinal transit, making the body more easily eliminate toxins and control the absorption of fats. Okra is a food with a low glycemic index and therefore does not promote blood glucose peaks. When in excess in the blood, glucose is converted and stored as fat.

2 beneficial food for diabetics

Studies carried out in rats revealed the antidiabetic and antihyperlipidemic effects of okra, where the group treated with okra powder had a reduction in their blood glucose and total cholesterol levels and an increase in the level of HDL (good cholesterol).

More studies on its effectiveness in humans need to be carried out, but it has already been found that the consumption of okra can help in the treatment of diabetes, but it cannot replace insulin treatment, but rather complement and improve disease control.

3. Lower cholesterol

Because it contains few calories and fat and is high in fiber, okra is an ally in cholesterol control. As a result, there is a better functioning of the body as a whole and a decrease in the risk of heart disease.

 4.Improves the cardiovascular system

Okra contains potassium, a mineral that relaxes blood vessels, improving blood pressure. Fiber promotes lower cholesterol. It is known that high cholesterol can lead to atherosclerotic plaques in the arteries, which increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes. Due to the nutrients contained in okra, the risk of developing heart disease is reduced.

5. Improves the digestive system

The high amounts of fiber present in okra improve the functioning of the intestine, improve the elimination of toxins and fats, fight constipation problems and prevent some types of cancer, such as colorectal.

Studies have shown that okra has a hepatoprotective effect, that is, it protects the liver. This benefit is due to its antioxidant activity.

6. Strengthens the Immune System

Okra has ascorbic acid (or vitamin C) which is essential for strengthening the immune system, so the body is better prepared to fight infections, from flu to more severe cases.

7. Helps in the prevention and treatment of cancer

Tests revealed that a protein present in okra can inhibit the proliferation and stimulate the death of breast cancer cells and colon cancer.

8.Helps keep your eyes healthy

Because it has significant amounts of vitamin A and carotenoid compounds such as beta-carotene, zeaxanthin and lutein, okra helps prevent eye diseases.

9. Good for bones

Okra is a source of calcium and vitamin K, important substances for the formation and maintenance of healthy bones and teeth.

10.Beneficial for pregnant women

Okra contains folic acid, a B-complex vitamin that is essential for the correct development of the fetal neural tube. Therefore, it is recommended that pregnant women take folic acid supplementation not only during pregnancy, but also months before becoming pregnant.

11.Improves skin and hair health

The benefits of okra for hair and skin are due to its antioxidant power. For the skin, okra softens wrinkles and prevents premature aging. In the hair, the “drool” from okra, when applied, has a moisturizing action and provides shine and vitality to the hair.

BENEFITS OF OKRA IN WATER

Okra water has become popular for diabetes control and weight loss. It is known that okra has diuretic properties, is rich in fiber and can help in the treatment of diabetes, as it is capable of lowering blood glucose. However, it should not be used as a substitute for medication, but as an aid in treatment and control.

It also became popular the idea of ​​okra benefits for dogs, where okra juice would be given to dogs and cats as a natural remedy against canine distemper and parvovirus, but its effectiveness has not been confirmed.

For okra water, place 2-3 okra in a glass of water (250 ml) and refrigerate overnight. The next morning, drink the water. You can also cut the okra into strips before putting it in water to maximize the effects, but the taste will be more bitter.

HOW TO MAKE OKRA

Okra is versatile and can be used to prepare various recipes, from regional cuisine such as the traditional chicken with okra from Minas Gerais or shrimp with okra, called caruru from Bahia cuisine, to be consumed in the form of salads, braised okra, fried , roasted, in hot dishes and with other types of meat.

When consumed fresh, the benefits of raw okra are greater, as no nutrients are lost. If the idea of ​​eating raw okra in salads doesn’t appeal to you, even when cooked it is still highly nutritious

OKRA SALAD WITH LEMON AND ONION

Ingredients:

  • 200 g of okra
    • 1 medium onion
    • ½ small lemon
    • 1 pinch of salt

Preparation mode:

Cook the okra for 10 minutes, then cut into small cubes. Peel and cut the onion into small strips. Mix the okra and onion in a container, squeeze the lemon juice over the okra and onion, then add the pinch of salt. Mix and serve.

BRAISED OKRA

Ingredients :

  • 1 kg of okra
  • 2 tablespoons of vinegar
  • 4 tablespoons of oil
  • 4 chopped tomatoes
  • 1 chopped onion
  • Shall
  • Black pepper

Preparation method:

Cut the okra into slices and place in a pan with the tomatoes, onions, vinegar, oil, salt and pepper.

Heat (medium) and stir. Cover the pan and let it cook, stirring occasionally. To make the okra drool disappear, let it boil a lot.

 

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Robert Asprin, APD is a non-dieting Accredited Practicing Dietitian passionate about inspiring positive changes in eating and lifestyle behaviors to help improve health while nurturing relationships with food and body.

Robert Asprin

Robert Asprin, APD is a non-dieting Accredited Practicing Dietitian passionate about inspiring positive changes in eating and lifestyle behaviors to help improve health while nurturing relationships with food and body.

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