Okra, sometimes referred to as “lady’s finger,” comes in two colours; red and green. Both of them taste the same, and the red one turns green when cooked. Okra is a flowering plant known for its edible seed pods. It is cultivated in warm and tropical climates, such as those in Africa and South Asia.
Biologically classified as a fruit, okra is generally utilised like a vegetable in cooking. Okra can have a slimy texture, which some people find unappealing but there are amazing health benefits of okra some people do not know about. From an article by Natalie Rizzo on Healthline, here are some amazing benefits of okra.
1. Contains beneficial antioxidants
One of the amazing benefits of okra is that it has many antioxidants that benefit your health. Antioxidants are compounds in food that fend off damage from harmful molecules called free radicals.
The main antioxidants in okra are polyphenols, including flavonoids and isoquercetin, as well as vitamins A and C.
Eating a diet high in polyphenols will improve heart health by lowering your risk of blood clots and oxidative damage. It also benefits your brain health.
2. Anti-cancer properties
Okra contains a type of protein called lectin, which inhibits the growth of human cancer cells. The lectin in okra prevents cancer cell growth by up to 63%.
3. Lowers blood sugar
Maintaining healthy blood sugar levels is very important for your overall health. High blood sugar can lead to prediabetes and type 2 diabetes.
Eating okra or okra extract helps decrease blood sugar levels. Okra decreases sugar absorption in the digestive tract, leading to a more stable blood sugar response.
It is worth noting that okra may interfere with metformin, a common diabetes medication. Therefore, eating okra is not recommended for those taking this drug.
4. Beneficial for pregnant women
Folate (vitamin B9) is an important nutrient for pregnant women. It helps lower the risk of a neural tube defect, which affects the brain and spine of a developing fetus. It’s recommended that all women of childbearing age consume 400 mcg of folate every day.
Okra is a good source of folate, with 1 cup (100 grams) providing 15% of a woman’s daily needs for this nutrient.
Eating okra helps pregnant women meet their daily folate needs.