Okro(okra) is a flowering plant in the mallow family. Also known as gumbo, is a tall growing, warm season, annual vegetable from the same family as cotton and hibiscus. The immature pods are used for soups, canning and stews or boiled vegetable. It is valued for its edible green seed pods. Originating in Africa, the plant is cultivated in tropical, subtropical and warm temperate regions around the world. It is among the most heat and drought tolerant vegetable species in the world. Okro is also known as ladies’ fingers because of its shape, and is widely used in Indian, Middle Eastern, Caribbean and southern US cookery.
Okro contains vitamins A and C and is a good source of iron and calcium,manganese and magnesium. It also contains starch, fat, ash, thiamine and riboflavin. The pods also contain good amounts of vitamin K,folates and dietary fibers.
The superior fiber found in okro helps to stabilize the blood sugar by curbing the rate at which sugar is absorbed from the intestinal tract.
Okro helps lubricate the large intestines due to its bulk laxative qualities. The okro fiber absorbs water and ensures bulk in stools. This helps prevent and improve constipation. Okro facilitates elimination more comfortably by its slippery characteristic. Okra binds excess cholesterol and toxins (in bile acids). These, if not evacuated, will cause numerous health problems.
Okra also assures easy passage out of waste from the body.
Okra fiber is excellent for feeding the good bacteria (probiotics). This contributes to the health of the intestinal tract.
Okro is a supreme vegetable for those feeling weak, exhausted, and suffering from depression.
Okro is used for healing ulcers and to keep joints limber. It helps to neutralize acids, being very alkaline, and provides a temporary protective coating for the digestive tract.
Okro treats lung inflammation, sore throat, and irritable bowel syndrome.
Okro has been used successfully in experimental blood plasma replacements.
Okro is good for constipation.
Okro is good in normalizing the blood sugar and cholesterol level.
Okro is good for asthma. Okra’s vitamin C is an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, which curtail the development of asthma symptoms.
Okro is good for atherosclerosis.
Okro is believed to protect some forms of cancer expansion, especially colorectal cancer.
Okro is good for preventing diabetes.
Okro protects you from pimples and maintains smooth and beautiful skin.
Okro is completely non-toxic, non-habit forming, has no adverse side effects and is full of nutrients.
According to the National Nutrient Database, one cup of raw okra, weighing 100 grams (g) contains:
1.9 g of protein
0.2 g of fat
7.5 g of carbohydrates
3.2 g of fiber
1.5 g of sugar
31.3 milligrams (mg) of vitamin K
299 mg of potassium
7 mg of sodium
23 mg of vitamin C
0.2 mg of thiamin
57 mg of magnesium
82 mg of calcium
0.215 mg of vitamin B6
60 micrograms (mcg) of folate
36 mcg of vitamin A
Okra is also a source of antioxidants . Okra, its pods, and seeds contain a variety of antioxidant compounds, including phenolic compounds and flavonoid derivatives, such as catechins and quercetin.
Scientists think that these compounds may help lower the risk of cancer .
In a 2014 study , researchers used lectin from okra in a lab test to treat human breast cancer cells. The treatment reduced cancer cell growth by 63% and killed 72% of the human cancer cells. More studies are needed to see if okra has an effect on cancer in humans.
A low folate intake may also increase a person’s risk of developing a range of cancers, including cervical, pancreatic, lung, and breast cancer.
PREGNANCY AND BREASTFEEDING
Okra is a good source of folate. One 2016 review suggested that folate may have preventive effects against breast cancer risk. Folate is also important for preventing fetal problems during pregnancy. Low folate levels can lead to pregnancy loss and problems for the child, including conditions such as spina bifida.
The 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend an intake of 400 mcg of folate each day for adults. Doctors usually advise that women take more folate during pregnancy and while breastfeeding.
Okra also has some uses in medicine. Scientists use it to bind the compounds in tablets, to make liquids for suspending compounds, as a replacement for blood plasma, and to expand the volume of blood.
Okra requires a hot climate to grow.
People can add it to salads, soups, and stews. They can eat it fresh or dried, pickled, fried, sautéed, roasted, or boiled.
For most people, okra, like other vegetables, is a healthful addition to the diet. As with any food or nutrient, it is best to eat it in moderation.