Okra, also known as “lady’s fingers,” is a green flowering plant, which belongs to the same plant family as hibiscus and cotton. Originating from Ethiopia, okra contains a heap of vitamins and minerals including potassium, folic acid, calcium, and vitamins A, B, C, and K.
Okra’s rich vitamin C content and strong antioxidant presence also acts as an immune booster against unsafe free radicals. Vitamin C also stimulates the immune system to create more white blood cells, which can help battle other infections or viruses in the body.
The unique vegetable is mucilaginous when cooked, which means it produces a slime-like substance. The mucilage is common in most plants and actually contains soluble fibre. In fact, eight medium-sized okra pods are estimated to contain about three grams of fibre. The bulk fibre has several benefits including helping digestion, cutting hunger cravings, and increasing satiety.
Okra has been suggested to help manage blood sugar in cases of type 1, type 2, and gestational diabetes. Medicinal research on okra for diabetes management is still in early stages, but according to a recent study, okra water actually improved blood sugar levels of pregnant rats that had gestational diabetes.
Foods, like okra, that are high in fibre play an important role for those with diabetes. Studies show that increased dietary fibre intake promotes better glycemic control and can improve insulin sensitivity.
Other benefits of okra include maintaining heart health, lowering cholesterol levels, and promoting healthy pregnancy and breastfeeding.
HOW TO EAT OKRA
Soups and stews: The gel-like substance found inside of okra also acts as a thickening agent, making it a great ingredient for soups and stews. Coincidently, cooked okra is most commonly found in traditional gumbo recipes.
Pickled: Pickled okra is another popular okra variation that replaces the bitterness of the okra pod with a sour taste.
Dehydrated: If you own a dehydrator, drying out okra pods and seasoning them lightly with sea salt makes a tasty snack to satisfy your craving for a crunchy snack.
More Insights: Check out this great article on the health benefits of seeds!