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The worldwide used versatile vegetable called okra is characterized by green color, elongated and tapering ridged pods infused with double row of seeds and slimy texture when cut open. This integral member of the cotton family is indigenous to regions around the Nile in North Africa and the Middle East for it was discovered dating as far as 3500 years ago in Ethiopia.

Okra is also known as “Lady’s Finger”, or “Bamia”. The pods usually gathered while they are green, tender, and at immature stage. The plant is cultivated throughout the tropical and warm temperate regions around the world for their fibrous fruits or “pods.” Bamia grows best in well-drained and manure rich soil.

Health benefits of Okra

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  1. Cholesterol Controlling and Weight Reduction

The bamia pods are among the very low calorie vegetables. They provide just 30 calories per 100 g besides containing no saturated fats or cholesterol. Nonetheless, they are rich sources of dietary fiber, minerals, and vitamins; often recommended by nutritionists in cholesterol controlling and weight reduction programs.

  1. Prevents Constipation

The pods are one of the rich sources of mucilage substance that help in smooth peristalsis of digested food through the gut and ease constipation condition. Due to greater percentage of water in the bulk it thereby prevents constipation, gas and bloating in the abdomen.

  1. Antioxidant Properties and Cancer Protect Properties

The pods compose healthy amounts of vitamin A, and flavonoid anti-oxidants such as beta-carotene, xanthin and lutein. It is one of the vegetables with highest levels of these anti-oxidants. These compounds are known to have antioxidant properties and are essential for vision. Vitamin A is also required for maintaining healthy mucus membranes and skin. Consumption of natural vegetables and fruits rich in flavonoids helps to protect from lung and oral cavity cancers.

  1. Good Source of Folates

Fresh pods are the good source of folates; provide about 22% of RDA per 100 g. Consumption of foods rich in folates, especially during the pre-conception period helps decrease the incidence of neural tube defects in the offspring.

  1. Improves the Immune System

The gumbo pods are also an excellent source of anti-oxidant vitamin, vitamin-C, providing about 36% of daily-recommended levels. Research suggests that consumption of foods rich in vitamin-C helps human body develop immunity against infectious agents, reduce episodes of cold and cough and protect it from harmful free radicals.

  1. Strengthening of Bones

They are rich in B-complex group of vitamins like niacin, vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine), thiamin and pantothenic acid. The pods also contain good amounts of vitamin K. Vitamin K is a co-factor for blood clotting enzymes and is required for strengthening of bones.

  1. Okra Helps Adjust Blood Sugar

The mucilage and fiber found in okra helps adjust blood sugar by regulating its absorption in the small intestine.

  1. Good for Gastro-Intestinal Tract

The fiber of okra has many superior qualities in maintaining the health of the gastro-intestinal tract. Okra is an excellent laxative treats irritable bowels, heals ulcers and sooths the gastrointestinal track.

Okra facilitates the propagation of good bacteria referred to as probiotics. These are similar to the ones proliferate by the yoghurt in the small intestine and helps biosynthesis of Vitamin B complex.

  1. Okra for Adding Bounce Your Hair

Boil horizontally sliced okra till the brew become maximally slimy. Cool it and add a few drops of lemon and use this as the last rinse and see your hair spring back to youthfulness and jump.

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The pods are also good source of many important minerals such as:

  • Iron,
  • Calcium,
  • Manganese and
  • Magnesium.

Protein and oil contained in the seeds of okra serves as the source of first-rate vegetable protein. It is enriched with amino acids on the likes of tryptophan, cystine and other sulfur amino acids.

Consumption of Okra

Fresh, immature okra pods can be readily available in the stores all around the year. The pods feature attractively rich green-color and have neutral flavor. In the store, look for crispy, immature pods and avoid those with over-ripen, sunken appearance, discolored spots, cuts and mushy.

Okra pods are one of the widely used vegetables in tropical countries. Chopped, or sliced, they can be stewed or fried (fritters) under low heat oil in order to soften their mucilaginous texture. They then, can be mixed with other vegetables, rice, or meat.

In the Caribbean islands, okra is cooked and enjoyed in soup, often with fish.

The pods can be pickled and preserved like in other vegetables.

Okra leaves may be cooked in a similar manner as the greens of beets or dandelions.

You can eat them while they are fresh to obtain full benefits of vitamins and anti-oxidants. They may also stay well for 1-2 days when placed inside the refrigerator.

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The worldwide used versatile vegetable called okra is characterized by green color, elongated and tapering ridged pods infused with double row of seeds and slimy texture when cut open. This integral member of the cotton family is indigenous to regions around the Nile in North Africa and the Middle...