Okra is a vegetable that origins from the Orient. Its homeland is Abyssinia and eastern India. Okra is not a usual vegetable; it is in the family of hibiscus – woody shrub.
It is characteristic by the big light yellow flower that later turns into green beans, similar to pepperoni, that are filled with fluffy white seeds.
People often refer to okra as a delicacy than as a plant with medical properties. The fruits are juicy, pleasant and slightly specific bitter taste and easily digestible. Only young fruits are used in nutrition, because the bark is soft and it is filled with tasty seeds. You can also conserve the fruits by drying, freezing and marinating them.
Nutritional value of okra
Dry okra contains 70% unsaturated fatty acids and 18-27% of protein. Young fruits have 36 calories in 100 grams. They contain proteins, carbohydrates, saturated fatty acids, minerals like potassium, calcium, phosphorus, sodium, iron, then copper, cobalt, zinc, sulfur, silicon, vanadium, vitamins of the B group, pro vitamin A and vitamin C, essential oils, cellulose and pectin.
Young okra fruits are used for nutrition as an addition to various dishes, it can be combined with other vegetables and it can take a lot of spices.
When the fruits are fully grown their bark becomes tough and leathery and is not suitable for eating, therefore it is for the best to buy medium size okra.
Health benefits of okra
Young okra fruits have amazing antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It can improve digestion and peristalsis on the digestive system, clean the metabolism of toxic products. Okra has positive effects on gastritis, ulcers and inflammation of the bowels. Okra has the ability to strengthen the immune system.
Tea prepared from okra is used against diarrhea and it also lowers blood sugar levels. Pregnant women and women who are trying to get pregnant should include okra in daily nutrition because it is rich in folic acid. Okra is also considered an aphrodisiac. People suffering from constipation should use it regularly because okra works as a “lubricant” in the colon. Okra also has ability to excrete all and excess fat (cholesterol) from the body. The fruits of fresh okra have only 30 calories and they are excellent for all kinds of diets. They are rich in vitamin C, folic acid, calcium, iron potassium and magnesium, and contain a lot of dietary fiber.
Thanks to it rich nutritional composition okra has positive effect on:
Protect from colds and flu
It contains vitamin C that is natural immunity booster and that makes okra a good protector from cold and flu.
Controls blood sugar level
Okra can stabilize blood sugar level because it can slow down the process of it absorption from the intestines.
Okra contains vitamin A as well as other antioxidants that have positive effect on the eye sight.
Birth defect and pregnancy
Folic acid that can be found in okra is 25%or recommended daily amount that pregnant woman need. Folic acid is important because it can prevent birth defects.
Thanks to antioxidants and fiber, okra is considered to be protector against some kinds of cancer, especially colorectal.