Facts, Health And Nutritional Benefits Of Okra
Latin Name : Abelmoschus esculentus.
In India, okra is called Bhindi or Bhendi.
Some other names for okra are : lady's fingers, gumbo, bendi, quibombo, bamia, quiabo, okura, qui kui.
Okra belongs to the family Malvaceae or the mallow family. The plant provides pods that are green and edible when raw.
Okra plant grows in tropical, subtropical and warm temperate areas and is believed to be a native of South Asia, Ethopia or West Africa. The plants grow to about 6-7 feet tall. Okra pod has a slimy feel due to the presence of mucilage.
This sliminess is not preferred by many people and can be reduced by adding vinegar, tomatoes, tamarind paste,dry mango powder, curd or some drops of lemon. It can also be reduced by slicing the pods thin and cooking till the mucilage dissolves or okra can be added as the last ingredient to the preparation of the dish so as to cook it for as little time as possible.
Okra is a popular vegetable in many countries and is mainly eaten as a vegetable. However, it can be pickled or a soup made from it. The leaves are also cooked like other greens. They can be eaten raw as in salads.
The seeds can be roasted and ground to form a drink very similar to coffee but without coffee's caffeine content. In fact during World war II there was shortage of coffee and the seeds were ground and used as a replacement coffee.
Okra seeds when pressed yield a greenish yellow edible oil that is high in unsaturated fats like oleic and linoleic acids. Okra oil is as good as many other cooking oils. It is also suitable as a biofuel.
Nutrients In Okra
- Okra is low in calories and provides only 30 calories/100 grams.
- It is free of fat and cholesterol.
- Okra is rich in dietary fiber and provides 9% of the daily value/100 grams.
- It has good amounts of Vitamins C and K, supplying 36% and 44% of the daily requirement and moderate amounts of Vitamin A, about 12% of the daily value/100 grams.
- It contains good to moderate amounts of the B complex group of vitamins, providing 17% of thiamine, 16.5% of pyridoxine, 6% of niacin, 5% of pantothenic acid and 4.5% of riboflavin per 100 grams.
- Okra is a very good source of folates and supplies 22% of the DV/100 grams.
- It is rich in the phytonutrients, beta carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin.
- Okra also contains several vitamins like manganese (43% DV/100 grams) and decent amounts of calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, zinc and phosphorus.
Nutrients In Okra
Okra (Abelmoschus esculentus), Fresh, raw pods,
Nutrition value per 100 gms
(Source: USDA National Nutrient data base)
Percentage of RDA
Health Benefits Of Okra
Not only is the humble okra full of nutrients, it has a plethora of health benefits as well. Some of the health benefits of okra are given below.
- Okra mucilage contains soluble fiber and helps to bind the bile acids, cholesterol and toxins in the digestive tract, preventing their absorption and facilitating their removal.Thus lowering cholesterol levels.
- The fiber and mucilage help in easier passage of the digestive contents thus relieving and preventing constipation. It also maintains the health of the digestive tract and trats issues like colitis, IBS, diverculitis and the like.
- It is a acts as a natural diuretic for the kidneys and reduces the toxins in the blood.
- The various flavonoids protect against lung and oral cancer.
- Vitamin A helps in protecting the vision and maintaining healthy mucosal membranes and skin.
- Vitamin C raises immunity levels and protects against infections, coughs, colds and free radical damage.
- Vitamin K makes the bones strong, helps in maintaining proper blood clooting time, protects against heart disease and diabetes.
- The mucilage and soluble fiber ensure slower absorption of food and sugar, thereby ensuring blood sugar levels do not spike leading to better management of blood sugar levels and control of diabetes.
- Okra is a low glycemic index, alkaline vegetable.
- It reduces triglyceride levels and this property is especially beneficial for diabetics.
- Okra has anti bacterial activity and it inhibits the growth and proliferation of H.pylori in the intestine.
- The mucilage in okra is non toxic and can be extracted for use as a thickener and stabilizer in the cosmetic, pharmaceutical and food industries.
- Okra is a natural detoxifier.
Some Traditional Uses Of Okra For Health
Okra has been used in traditional folk medicine. Some of the uses of different parts of the plant are as given below.
- A decoction of okra leaves and fruits are used to relieve urinary problems like gonorrhea, syphilis, painful urination etc.
- Okra juiice benefits in sore throat that has been promoted by coughing.
- The leaves and roots can be used as a dressing for wounds.
- Okra has carminative properties and can be used to relieve abdominal pains.
- Okra leaves relieve inflammation.
- A decocotion of okra can relieve fever, headache and arthritis.
- Okra has beneficial effects on the skin and relieves pimples and acne.
- Okra seeds prevent and relieve muscle spasms.
- Decocotion of raw okra fruit relieves mucous membrane inflammation of the respiratory tract.
- The roots have compounds that protect the liver.
To summarize okra has all these wonderful health benefits that only accrue when it is cooked for as little time as possible and not all benefits can be obtained when it is cooked to death, like in curries.
The information provided in this hub is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult your physician, or health care provider before taking any home remedies, supplements or starting a new health regime.
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Bhindi Subzi (Okra Vegetable)
Stuffed Okra recipe, Bharvan Bhindi, bhindi/Bhendi masala
© 2013 Rajan Singh Jolly
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