Okra is a funny little green vegetable with a funny little name. A small, spear-shaped green veggie with a mild taste, okra resembles a pepper and has been cultivated as a food source for hundreds of years.
Today, it is used in a variety of dishes around the world. In the southern U.S., it is an old favorite for thickening gumbo thanks to its gooey texture when cooked in water. It can also be chopped into stir fries or roasted in the oven for a crispier dish. More and more people are now getting creative with okra as its versatility and nutritional spectrum becomes better known.
While okra might be easy to overlook in the produce section, don’t overlook it in your health and weight-loss regimen. Okra packs impressive amounts of nutrients into its little pods. Here are 20 impressive benefits of the deceptively simple looking okra:
1. It keeps you feeling full
Okra’s dietary fiber helps you feel full for longer, which will keep you from snacking on those stray potato chips after dinner.
2. It’s great for your digestion
The fiber is the main factor here again. High fiber content is great for the digestive tract and keeps you going more regularly. This not only helps keep your weight down, but makes you healthier over all.
3. It’s a low calorie food
It’s always nice when a food can satisfy your hunger and help you stay trim. The low caloric count of okra means you can definitely scoop another spoonful onto your dish and still see the numbers go down on the scale.
4. It’s a diuretic
That means it helps the body detoxify itself and helps you shed excess water weight. A great weapon in your arsenal for de-bloating!
5. It helps control cholesterol levels
The pectin in okra lowers LDL or bad cholesterol, which improves cardiac function.
6. It’s cancer fighting
Packed with antioxidants, okra can provide much-needed support to cells in fighting off free-radicals that can lead to cancer.
7. It boosts the immune system
The healthy fiber in okra feeds much-needed good bacteria in our intestines, which builds our immunity against viruses and infection.
8. It supports fertility and healthy pregnancy
The high amount of folates in okra are especially important in a pre-conception diet as it “decreases the incidence of neural tube defects in offspring“. Likewise, eating more folates during the pregnancy helps support a healthy mom and baby.
9. It stabilizes blood sugar levels
Okra’s fiber content is also responsible for slowing down the rate of sugar absorption in the digestive tract.
10. It helps prevent diabetes
Research has shown that in addition to its stabilizing effects on blood sugar, okra actually reduces blood sugar levels and could be an option for diabetes prevention.
11. It helps prevent kidney disease
Studies have shown that eating more okra results in the reduction of kidney damage over time.
12. It may help reduce asthma symptoms
Okra’s powerful dose of vitamin C has been linked to easing respiratory issues like asthma.
13. It can give you shiny, bouncy hair
Okra boiled, cooled, and mixed with lemon juice can be applied to your hair for a nice bouncy finish. Neat, huh?
14. It’s good for your brain
Okra is believed to be a top brain food and is eaten frequently in the Middle and Far East by students who need a mental boost.
15. It’s anti-inflammatory
16. It’s good for eye health
Okra’s nutrients like vitamins C and A have been linked to a reduction in the risk of cataracts and macular degeneration.
17. It supports strong bones
Thanks to its vitamin K and folates, okra has been credited with preventing bone loss and fending off osteoporosis.
18. It’s great for your skin
The high vitamin C content helps the growth and rejuvenation of skin cells and collagen, which keeps skin looking smoother, younger and healthier
19. It’s a great source of vegetable protein
With 2 grams of protein per cup, okra is an easily-digestible, vegetarian source of filling, fibrous protein.
20. It supports ulcer healing
Okra coats the digestive tract when consumed and helps speed the healing of peptic ulcers.
So whether you’re trying to lose weight, or just eating healthier to feel better and prevent future health issues, okra should definitely make it onto your next grocery list.