Okra, also known as lady finger, is a nutritious and delicious vegetable that offers a plethora of health benefits. Yes, you heard it right! The health benefits of eating lady fingers are numerous. Moreover, okra’s benefits are well documented in the world of nutrition.Therefore, your monthly grocery list should have this super vegetable Okra (lady’s finger) irrespective of how much love you have towards this food. Okra is a flowering plant that is popular for its edible seed pods. This vegetable comes in two colors (red and green) and is primarily nurtured in warm tropical climates. This vegetable is flooded with nutrition and thus, you should incorporate it into your diet regime.
Nutrition Facts of Lady Finger
Before digging deeper to understand okra health benefits, it is better to understand Okra Nutrition Facts. Here is the nutritional value of Lady Finger.
One cup (100 grams) of raw okra contains:
- Lady Finger calories: 33
- Carbs: 7 g
- Fibre: 3 g
- Protein: 2 g
- Fat: 0 g
- Vitamin A: 14% of the DV
- Vitamin B6: 14% of the DV
- Magnesium: 14% of the Daily Value (DV)
- Folate: 15% of the DV
- Vitamin C: 26% of the DV
- Vitamin K: 26% of the DV
Besides, you can fetch Lady Finger vitamins such vitamin C and K1 eating this little green vegetable. Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin that influences your entire immune function. On the other hand, vitamin K1 is a fat-soluble vitamin that plays a pivotal role in blood clotting.
Moreover, okra is a low-calorie food and contains some essential protein and fiber. Okra contains protein and thus, it is ideal for weight management, blood sugar control, bone structure, and muscle mass.
10 Tremendous Health Benefits of Lady Finger (Okra)
Consuming a diet that is abundant in fruits and vegetables may help lowering the risk of developing various health issues. Moreover, the mucilage present in okra is believed to have detoxifying effects on the body. Due to the beneficial nutrients present in okra, it may also have the potential to prevent the onset of several health conditions.
1. Regulates Cholesterol Levels
Okra possesses a thick gel-like substance called mucilage. This fastens with cholesterol during digestion and helps it to excrete with stools rather than absorbed by your body.
An animal study was performed on mice for 8 weeks. Mice were divided into 3 groups and they consumed a high-fat diet containing 1% or 2% okra powder or a high-fat diet without okra powder.
At the end of the study, it has been revealed that the mice group that consumed the okra diet eliminated more cholesterol in their stools and had lower total blood cholesterol levels as compared to the group that didn’t take the okra diet.
2. Good for Your Heart
Okra is beneficial for the heart due to its polyphenol content.
A study was conducted for 4 years on 1,100 people and it has been found that people who ate a diet rich in polyphenols had lower inflammatory markers related to heart disease.
3. Have Anti-Cancer Properties
Okra possesses a protein called lectin that hinders the growth of human cancer cells. A medical study has claimed that lectin in okra prevents cancer cell growth by up to 63%.
Another test-tube study was performed on metastatic mouse melanoma cells and it has been found that okra extract killed cancerous cells.
4. Minimizes Blood Sugar
Persistent high blood sugar may lead to prediabetes and type-2 diabetes.
Studies in mice revealed that eating okra or okra extract may lessen the levels of blood sugar. Healthcare experts believe that okra reduced the absorption of sugar in the digestive tract; as a result, you may have a stable blood sugar response. But okra may contradict metformin (a popular diabetic drug), so people who are taking metformin should not eat okra.
5. Beneficial in Pregnancy
Vitamin B9 is an imperative vitamin that you may need in pregnancy. This vitamin minimizes the risks of a neural tube defect (improper development of the brain and spine). Every woman of childbearing age should consume 400 mcg of folate per day.
A medical study was performed on 6,000 non-pregnant women over 5 years and the result showed that 23% of participants had insufficient folate concentrations in their blood. Okra is an excellent source of folate. 100 grams of Okra offer 15% of a woman’s daily requirements for this nutrient.
6. Strengthens Your Bones
Vitamin K is a pre-requisite vitamin that helps your blood clot properly, safeguards your heart, and improves your bone health. One cup of okra offers over 30 micrograms of vitamin K. So, to strengthen your bones, you should include okra in your diet.
7. Enhances Sperm Count in Men
Eating okra is beneficial for men. It helps increasing their sperm count and sperm mobility. It is a vegetable full of zinc, selenium, and other nutrients essential for a man’s sperm quality.
8. Okra is Loaded with Antioxidants
Antioxidants in foods fight against lethal free radicals. Okra contains antioxidants like polyphenols, flavonoids, and isoquercetin. Several medical studies have proved that if you consume more polyphenols in your diet, then they will minimize your chances of getting blood clots and oxidative damage.
9. Prevents Inflammation in the Body
As polyphenols protect against inflammation, hence they are effective for your brain’s health. These defense mechanisms will safeguard your brain from symptoms of ageing and uplift cognition, learning, and memory.
10. Good for Digestion
The list of lady finger benefits doesn’t end here. This green little vegetable is good for your stomach. If eaten regularly, this vegetable aids in digestion due to its rich fibre content.
These are some of the pivotal okra benefits that you should be aware of.
Risks and precautions associated with okra
While okra has many health benefits, it is important to be aware of the potential risks and precautions associated with consuming this vegetable.
- For people with existing bowel problems, the fructans in okra can cause gastrointestinal issues such as gas, diarrhoea, bloating, and abdominal cramping.
- Individuals who have had kidney stones previously should exercise caution, as okra is high in oxalates, which can increase the risk of kidney stones.
- The high vitamin K content in okra may interfere with blood-thinning medications, including Coumadin or warfarin, which are used to prevent blood clots. Therefore, it is important for those on blood thinners to maintain a regular consumption of vitamin K-rich foods while monitoring their intake of okra.
Ways to include okra in your diet
There are many delicious ways to enjoy okra, including:
- Grilling: Grill whole or sliced okra with some garlic and lemon for a tasty and healthy side dish.
- Roasting: Toss okra with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper and roast in the oven for a crispy and flavourful snack.
- Frying: Coat sliced okra in cornmeal or flour and fry until golden brown for a classic Southern-style dish.
- Stir-frying: Add sliced okra to stir-fry it with other vegetables and your choice of protein for a quick and healthy meal.
- Stewing: Add sliced okra to soups and stews for a hearty and nutritious meal.
- Pickling: Pickle whole or sliced okra with vinegar, spices, and garlic for a tangy and crunchy snack.
- Salad: Slice or chop raw okra and add it to your favourite salad for a nutritious and crunchy addition.
No matter how you choose to prepare it, okra is a versatile and delicious vegetable that can be enjoyed in many different ways.
The Bottom Line
In conclusion, the health benefits of lady finger, or okra, are numerous and cannot be ignored. Lady finger benefits include its ability to support heart health and provide a rich source of nutrients such as vitamins C and K, folate, and fibre. Okra’s benefits also include its potential to help manage blood sugar levels, strengthen bones, and have cancer-protective properties. Moreover, okra is an affordable and easily accessible vegetable that you can add to your diet conveniently. You can prepare mouth-watering soups and stews using okra. Okra possesses nutrients like magnesium, folate, fiber, antioxidants, and vitamin C, K1, and A. Due to its nutritional content, okra offers an array of health benefits. However, it is important to be aware of the potential risks and precautions associated with consuming okra, especially for individuals with existing bowel problems, kidney stones, or who take blood-thinning medications.
What happens if you eat okra every day?
If you eat too much okra you may experience some gastrointestinal problems. Okra contains fructans (a type of carbohydrate) that may cause diarrhea, gas, cramping, and bloating in people who have bowel problems. Okra is high in oxalates so it may cause kidney stones.
What does okra do to a woman?
Okra is an excellent source of folate. One cup of okra offers 15% of a woman's daily needs for this nutrient.
What does okra do to a man?
Okra is loaded with folic acid, zinc, selenium and other sperm boosting vitamins and minerals. Men with watery sperm or low sperm count must drink okra water.
Is okra good for your hair?
Okra possesses vitamins A, C, and K and has calcium, potassium, and an array of other nutrients. All these nutrients will improve the growth of your hair; moisturize a dry scalp, and help you to get rid of dandruff.
Is okra good for skin?
Okra contains Vitamin C and collagen. Thus, it is beneficial for your skin. Okra has many antioxidants that will minimize inflammation in the body and skin.
Are there any risks associated with consuming okra?
Eating too much okra can cause gastrointestinal issues in some people, particularly those with existing bowel problems. Additionally, the high oxalate content in okra may increase the risk of kidney stones in some individuals.