Okra is a good low-calorie, fat-free, nutrient-dense diet. Its also known as bhindi, bamia or gumbo, belongs to the mallow family.
Fresh okra pods are used in different cuisines as a vegetable. Okra has high fiber, vitamins C and K, and folate content as well as calcium and potassium.
There are more reasons to add okra to your diet. It also contains niacin (vitamin B3), thiamine (vitamin B1), vitamin B6, magnesium, manganese, beta-carotene and lutein. In addition, it has powerful antioxidant properties.
The various vitamins, minerals and nutrients in okra provides tons of health benefits.
1. Promotes Healthy Skin
The vitamin C nutrients in okra aids the growth and repair of damaged tissues, which affects collagen formation and skin pigmentation. It also prevents acne, psoriasis and other skin conditions.
Being a rich source of dietary fiber, it also promotes smooth digestion, which is another important factor for healthy skin.
– Boil 2 cups of chopped okra in about 2 cups of water for 10 to 15 minutes.
– Remove the pot from the heat and allow it to steep for 10 minutes.
– Remove the okra pods and mash them with a little jojoba oil or any carrier oil to make a paste.
– Apply it to your face and neck.
– Allow it to sit for 15 minutes, then rinse it off with water.
– Use this face mask once or twice a week.
2. Lowers Bad Cholesterol
Okra contains no saturated fats or cholesterol and helps prevent heart disease and other health problems caused by cholesterol in the blood.
A 2014 study published in the Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology found that the hypolipidemic activity of okra skin extract provides cholesterol-lowering benefits.
It inhibits pancreatic cholesterol esterase activity, reduces the efficacy of cholesterol micellization and binds to bile acids, which in turn delays cholesterol absorption and increases its excretion.
3. Improves Eye Health
Okra boosts vision. It contains vitamin A as well as antioxidant components like beta-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin that are good for the eyes. Vitamin A provides protection to the cornea, lutein protects the eyes from harmful ultraviolet (UV) light and zeaxanthin aids visual development.
Being a powerful antioxidant, okra also destroys or neutralizes free radicals, the dangerous byproducts of cellular metabolism. Free radicals cause the degradation of cells in the body, including those responsible for vision.
To protect your eyes and reduce the risk of developing macular degeneration and cataracts, include okra in your diet.
4. Treats Leukorrhea
According to folkloric practice, fresh tender okra pods are beneficial in treating leukorrhea, which causes whitish or yellowish vaginal discharge between menstruations.
Its mucilaginous property helps remove mucous from your system, which in turn reduces vaginal discharge. In addition, it boosts your immune system to help fight the problem.
– Wash 1 cup of fresh okras and cut them into small pieces.
– Boil the pieces in 2 cups of water for about 15 minutes or until the water is reduced by half.
– Strain, divide it into 3 parts and add drink it 3 times a day until you notice improvement in your condition.
5. Promotes a Healthy Pregnancy
Okra is highly recommended for pregnant women. The important B vitamins in it help ensure healthy growth of the baby in the womb and prevent birth defects like spinal bifida.
In addition, it is rich in folic acid that aids in producing and maintaining new cells, which is essential for a healthy pregnancy. Folate also prevents miscarriage. The vitamin C in okra also plays a key role in fetal development.
Pregnancy women are advised to include okra in their diet especially during the 4th and 12th weeks when the neural tube develops in the fetus.
6. Makes Your Hair Soft and Shiny
The antioxidants and vitamins in okra can help make your hair well-conditioned and shiny. It also contains other useful nutrients like copper, zinc, potassium, folate and thiamine that are good for your hair.
– Put 8 to 10 okras (cut horizontally) in a pot with 1 cup of water.
– Allow it to simmer on low heat until you get a sticky texture.
– Remove it from the heat, add a few drops of lavender or mint oil and allow the concoction to cool.
– Filter the mixture using a muslin cloth and store the filtered content in a bottle.
– After washing your hair, apply this homemade conditioner.
– Wait 5 minutes, then rinse your hair thoroughly with water.
7. Prevents Liver Disease
Okra helps cleanse the liver and prevent liver disease. It contains substances that bind bile acid and cholesterol to detoxify the liver. It even prevents the accumulation of fats in the liver.
In a 2012 study published in the Saudi Pharmaceutical Journal, researchers concluded that the potent antioxidant property of okra extract has the ability to protect against chemically induced liver damage.
8. Reduces Blood Sugar Levels
Okra contains insulin-like properties that help reduce blood sugar levels. It also has a low glycemic index of about 20, making it a good choice for people with diabetes.
A 2011 study published in the Journal of Pharmacy & BioAllied Sciences confirmed the antidiabetic and antihyperlipidemic potential of abelmoschus esculentus (okra) peel and seed powder in diabetic rats.
– Cut off the ends of 4 or 5 okras and prick the body using a fork. Instead of pricking, you can also slit halfway.
– Soak the pricked okras in a glass of water overnight.
– The next morning, remove the okras and drink the water on an empty stomach.
– Do this daily to maintain a healthy blood sugar level.