Okra has many health benefits, its fiber content is good for the heart, its antioxidants are good for fighting various types of diseases and much more that we should know about okra or lady finger.
Okra is sometimes considered a bad vegetable because it becomes slimy when cut or cooked. But the fiber content and antioxidants will eliminate this bad image, okra is one of the important vegetables to rehabilitate our health. If you know how to enjoy okra properly, of course this vegetable will taste good and delicious and you will not only get its health benefits but also enjoy the delicious food of this okra. Read on to learn more about okra’s health benefits, its nutrition and how to enjoy it.
What Is Okra?
We often say that okra is a vegetable. In fact, in essence this is a fruit, this plant comes from Africa(source 1) and is usually eaten by boiling and seasoning, roasting or frying. It grows in warm climates including growing well in America and even in tropical countries like Indonesia. This plant thrives well in the presence of good heat and humidity.
This plant is almost all parts can be eaten, all the pods, seeds and plants can be eaten even you can eat the leaves and flowers including flower buds as a healthy vegetable. This is explained by North Carolina State University Extension.
Okra Nutrition Facts
It is not an ordinary vegetable but it contains many nutrients such as vitamins and minerals. Okra plants are rich in various nutrients such as containing riboflavin, vitamin C, potassium, calcium, as described in the journal Molecules(source 2). The slimy part of the okra fruit when cut is the part that is rich in fiber content. This is mentioned by dietitian Grace Clark-Hibbs, M.D.A., R.D.N., founder of Nutrition with Grace and as a registered and legal dietitian. This fiber that you get has many benefits and is responsible for our health. Among the benefits of okra fiber is controlling blood sugar, good for heart health, and good for digestive health in general.
Below we explain the nutritional content of Okra for the amount of a cup of okra or about 160 grams of cooked okra. This data is based on the United States Department of Agriculture.
In the amount we mentioned above, it contains 56 calories, 3 grams of protein, < 1 gram of fat, 13 grams of carbohydrates, 5 grams of fiber, and contains 3 grams of sugar.
Okra Health Benefits
After looking at the nutritional facts of Okra vegetables, now let’s see what are its health benefits. Maybe this will add to our love for eating this slimy vegetable. If the nutritional content does not inspire you, then know what are the benefits of consuming okra so that it can make you like to get the benefits.
Also see: Beetroot is Good for Diabetics, Here’s Why?
1. Wards Off Disease
Okra contains nutrients that are not kidding, it contains many types of antioxidants A +, such as polyphenols, says Mathis. These nutrients include catechins, polyphenols as found in green tea, rich in vitamin A, vitamin C, all of which act as good antioxidants in warding off various diseases caused by free radicals and others.
The antioxidants found in okra are very useful to ward off free radicals that cause cell damage. These free radicals are unstable molecules that can damage body cells and trigger dangerous diseases such as heart disease and cancer. So, liking and regularly eating okra is very good for our health. Hope you understand it!
2. Good for digestive health
Okra is a vegetable that is very rich in fiber, the slimy part of this fruit and when cooked it feels slippery and slimy is an important part to eat and is useful for improving digestive health.
The fiber from okra absorbs the water content in the intestines, and creates a gel-like substance, this substance then tightens stools and cures diarrhea. Okra seeds also contain insoluble fiber. The function of insoluble fiber is to increase the amount of stool and bowel muscle movement, this relieves constipation, according to the Mayo Clinic.
3. Regulate blood sugar levels
The okra fiber that forms a gel in the intestines will slow the absorption of carbohydrates and this is good for preventing spikes in blood sugar and preventing type 2 diabetes. A 2016 study found that soluble fiber that is consumed regularly can improve sugar levels in those with diabetes.
Not only fiber, but okra also contains magnesium, this is a mineral that helps the body secrete insulin. That’s what Charmaine Jones, M.S., R.D.N., L.D.N. said, meaning that magnesium is good for helping your insulin levels stay awake and controlled. Controlled insulin can regulate blood sugar levels because it can use all the sugar that enters into energy and does not accumulate in the bloodstream.
In addition, okra also contains antioxidants that are good for fighting oxidative stress and free radicals. Oxidation stress plays a role in increasing diabetes, while the content of antioxidants helps reduce this oxidative stress, in turn okra can help those of you who are battling diabetes.
4. Protects the heart
The fiber present in okra is a nutrient with a double duty, it lowers bad cholesterol(source 3), and then carries this cholesterol to be excreted from the body through feces. That is, as well as very good at blocking the entry of cholesterol in the bloodstream. This, in turn protects the heart from disease.
The content of antioxidants such as phenolic in okra vegetables also plays a role in protecting the heart by neutralizing free radicals. Well, when free radicals interact with LDL, the physical properties of these bad chemicals change. This is called LDL oxidation, and it has the potential to build up plaque, and can lead to heart disease. However, the phenolic compounds present in okra are said to prevent LDL oxidation, so this is protects the heart from heart disease.
5. Supports Healthy Pregnancy
Why is okra good for pregnant women? Okra is rich in folate, or vitamin B9, which is essential for forming red blood cells. It helps in healthy cell growth. Not only that, but folate content is very important for fetal health.
Low intake of folate during pregnancy can cause problems in the fetus such as brain defects, neural tube defects and spinal cord injuries.
The recommended daily intake of folate is 400 for men, and women 19 and older. While pregnant women need more folate, which is 600 micrograms, according to the National Institutes of Health. A cup of cooked okra already contains about 88 micrograms of folate, according to USDA data.