Okra has a long history, with its beginnings in Egypt where it is cultivated before the time of Cleopatra. The okra plant spread to many parts of the world during the Atlantic slave trade.
Okra, a green edible pod vegetable is commonly disliked by children and some adults because of slippery taste in the mouth. It is however bursting with vitamins, minerals, and many health benefits needed by our body.
It is also known as “lady finger, gumbo or gombo”.
Health Benefits of Okra
- The superior fiber found in okra helps to stabilize the blood sugar by curbing the rate at which sugar is absorbed from the intestinal tract.
- Okra’s mucilage binds cholesterol and bile acid carrying toxins dumped into it by the filtering liver.
- Okra helps lubricate the large intestines due to its bulk laxative qualities. The okra fiber absorbs water and ensures bulk in stools. This helps prevent and improve constipation. Okra’s mucilage soothes, and okra 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 is completely non-toxic, non-habit forming, has no adverse side effects, is full of nutrients, and is affordable for most individuals unlike over-the-counter drugs.
- Okra fiber is excellent for feeding the good bacteria (probiotics). This contributes to the health of the intestinal tract.
- Okra 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.
- Okra treats lung inflammation, sore throat, and irritable bowel syndrome.
- Okra is good in normalizing the blood sugar and cholesterol level.
- Okra is good for asthma because of its contents of vitamin C, which is an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, and curtail the development of asthma symptoms.
- Okra is good for atherosclerosis.
- Okra is believed to protect some forms of cancer, especially colorectal cancer.
- Eating okra helps to support the structure of capillaries.
- Okra is good for preventing diabetes.
There are other medicinal uses of okra, like its protection against trans-fats and it is also good for the skin.
Okra contains vitamins A and C and is a good source of iron and calcium. It also contains starch, fat, ash, thiamine and riboflavin.
|For 1/2 cup sliced, cooked okra|
|Calories – 25
Dietary Fiber – 2 grams
Protein – 1.52 grams
Carbohydrates – 5.76 grams
Vitamin A – 460 IU
Vitamin C – 13.04 mg
Folic acid – 36.5 micrograms
Calcium – 50.4 mg
Iron – 0.4 mg
Potassium – 256.6 mg
Magnesium – 46 mg
How to minimize the sliminess in Okra while cooking:
Basically, it’s the interaction with liquid that makes the inside turn slimy, so the solution is to minimize the okras contact with water and other liquids. There are a couple of ways to do this.
- Wash and wipe dry the okras thoroughly before slicing it.
- You can also steam okra for 3-4 minutes and drain and dry the okra thoroughly before slicing it. After slicing the okras don’t add it to the dish until the very end, so as to minimize moisture contact. For example, you could stew some tomatoes, onion and garlic until done and then add the blanched, dried and sliced okra just before serving.
- Another way is to sauté it, which sort of cauterizes the okra. This is the method used in Indian dishes. Wash the okra, dry thoroughly and then slice and sauté in a very hot skillet with a minimal amount of oil (grape seed or coconut oil are the best). Once done, remove it while you prepare the rest of the dish. Add the okra to the recipe at the very end.
- Don’t cut the okras in very small pieces.
There are numerous ways to cook okra as a few were mentioned above. You can sauté, roast, stew, make gumbo or pickle okra. Another great way to eat okra is to add spices to it and then dehydrated it.
Okra is easy to grow anywhere during summer season in cold countries and throughout the year in tropical areas. You can even plant it in a container garden at the terrace in condominium buildings. Did you know okra comes in a purple variety? Unfortunately its pretty color fades to dark green when cooked, so in the end no one will recognize the difference by sight.