Okra, also known as lady’s fingers, bamia, bhindi or gumbo, is a plant of the tropical and warm climates that produces edible green pods. The slightly immature pods are handpicked and prepared in different ways to compliment the traditional diets of many cultures. Okra (Abelmoschus esculentus) is believed to possess an abundance of health benefits, and there is ongoing research into its potential to help manage diabetes.
Get to know this popular vegetable and learn how to choose and use its seedy pods to preserve their rich nutritional value.
10 Health Benefits of Eating Okra
- Okra is low on calories – bamia pods contain only 30 calories per 100 grams and are often recommended as a part of a weight-loss program.
- It contains no saturated fats or cholesterol.
- It can help stabilize blood sugar levels by slowing its absorption from the intestines – see below for more details on okra consumption and diabetes.
- It contains lots of dietary fiber and acts as a natural laxative which can help you to naturally get rid of constipation. The pods are rich in mucilage substance, which is a thick, gluey substance that lubricates the large intestine and helps with elimination. Okra’s fiber also feeds the gut’s beneficial bacteria (probiotics) and helps maintain the pH balance of your digestive tract.
- It’s rich in vitamin A and other antioxidants – the green pods contain beta-carotene, lutein and xanthine, which together with vitamin A help preserve good vision and keep your skin fresh and healthy. Okra has been connected to cataract prevention and is praised for preventing spots and pimples.
- Due to the abundance of antioxidants and fiber, some also connect okra with cancer prevention, especially the prevention of colorectal cancer.
- It’s a rich source of vitamin C, which helps with the body’s immunity – okra has been linked to cough and cold prevention. Since vitamin C also acts as an anti-inflammatory, okra might be good for reducing the symptoms of asthma.
- It contains folates – 100 grams of okra provides about 22% of the recommended daily amount. Folates (folic acid) are particularly crucial in the pre-conception period and during early gestation and help prevent birth defects. Foods with folate can also help to cleanse your lungs.
- It’s a good source of minerals, including iron, calcium, magnesium and manganese.
- It contains vitamin K, which is important for bone health and plays a major role in blood clotting.