Okra, sometimes referred to as ochro, (“ladies’ fingers” in the UK and other English-speaking countries , “bhindi” in India etc) is a flowering plant found in warm and balmy climates across the globe. The plant produces long green pods covered in a fine fuzz, these pods contain small edible seeds, however the entire pod itself is edible. Its origin of is unknown, but many say it is derived from West Africa, where there is actually a vast diversity of okra plants. When cooked it has a very subtle taste, so it’s often used to bulk out strong flavoured or spicy dishes. Want to know what this delicious tropical plant can do for you? Then keep reading to discover our Top 5 Health Benefits of Okra!
1. Low calorie
Okra is extremely low in calories. For 100 grams of okra you will only consume a total of 33 calories, making it an excellent snack for those looking to lose some weight, it would also make a good choice of side dish if you want to make healthier choices when you eat out at restaurants. It’s also low in fat, with an average serving providing just 0.2 grams of fat, which is less than 1% of your daily fat intake.
Okra contains high concentrations of vitamin B6. Also known as pyridoxine, vitamin B6 assists your body in effectively storing and expending the energy derived from eating foods high in carbohydrates and protein. The ability to efficiently use up this energy can assist in counteracting the effects of tiredness and fatigue. Pyridoxine also helps to form red blood cells (haemoglobin) which carry oxygen around the body.
3. Vitamin C
Vitamin C, vital to protecting cells in the body and helping to keep your cells healthy is also found in okra. This vitamin also contributes to the maintenance of healthy skin, bones, cartilage, speeding up the process of healing wounds and minor injuries. Vitamin C has also helps with the regulation of normal blood-pressure and immune function.
4. Improves digestive health
It is very high in dietary fibre. This means it is great for the regulation of a healthy digestive tract and has the ability to improve the digestive health of those who are suffering with gastrointestinal problems. It can help to produce more regular, frequent bowel movements, prevent the chances of constipation, excess gas and bloating issues.
5. Immune boosting
The vast array of antioxidants found in okra, make it an excellent combatant of free radicals in the body. High levels of minerals and vitamins present in the body can be linked to an increased white blood cell count, white blood cells help to destroy foreign bodies that can compromise your immune system causing infections or disease.
Okra has been adapted into many different forms. It can be processed into an oil by pressing the seeds inside the pod, the oil produced is very high in unsaturated fats making it a healthier option to traditional olive oil. Okra can be eaten in a variety of ways, in stews, curries, chopped up in rice or fried or lightly steamed and seasoned. The leaves of the okra plant are also edible and can be used in salads. Know a great way to eat okra? Tell us about it @KeepfitKingdom !