If you ever get tired of cooking with the same ingredients, maybe it’s time to explore and see what else is out there for you. I am sure there are some things you haven’t tried. And those natural things are also good for you. Take for instance: the health benefits of okra are something you want on your plate.
My experience on holiday in Greece had a very strong culinary component. You know what that’s like: being on holiday, feeling more relaxed and open to the new. That’s what happened to me too when I saw a merchant at the farmer’s market with a beautiful stack of okra in front of him. I wanted to get to know that ingredient, even though I had steered clear of it until then. But the health benefits of okra are not to be ignored. Neither is its pleasant, surprising texture when cooked.
My friend who lives in Greece cooked it later that night in the form of a wonderful shakshuka. One I will never forget.
You could try this great okra bean stew for starters if you want to get in on the health benefits.
5 health benefits of okra
1. Source of calcium for vegetarians
Are you a vegetarian in desperate need of some calcium and magnesium? Then okra might be your new friend, and it might help prevent calcium deficiency and magnesium deficiency. You also need calcium to regulate your heart rhythms, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels. It supports your muscles and your nerve-signaling functions.
So, if you’re also lactose intolerant, you can safely get some of your calcium from this veggie. But just remember that you need about 1,000 milligrams of calcium daily, so a serving of okra isn’t really enough. One serving has 51 milligrams of calcium.
2. Makes your eyesight better
Those nice green pods are loaded with vitamin A and beta-carotene, both vital for sustaining your eyes in watching movies, reading, and also gazing at your significant other. Also, your skin will feel a bit better too with all of those nutrients. And eye-associated illnesses might be tougher to catch.
3. Protein and fiber galore
Okra is loaded with amino acids like lysine and tryptophan which basically means you can get plenty of protein from this food -- comparable to soybean, in fact. The okra seed is rich in high-quality protein and you want the best if you plan on cutting down on meat, right?
It is also rich in insoluble fiber, which really does good things for your digestion. Okra does that by lubricating the large intestines, easing your body into processing food. It keeps your intestinal tract healthier and decreases the risk of colorectal cancer. Plus: you have a lower chance of feeling constipated, and that’s always a win.
4. Protects your heart
There’s also plenty of soluble fiber in okra, which means that it improves the health of your heart and lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease. Nearly half of the contents of the okra pod is made up of soluble fiber in the form of gums and pectins, according to research from the Pakistan Journal of Food Science.
It helps your heart thanks to its pectin content, which can help reduce cholesterol by modifying the creation of bile within the intestines. It does that by binding excess cholesterol and toxins in the bile acids, making them easier to eliminate.
You know that mucilage thing that can be quite annoying when having okra? It serves a pretty cool purpose in your body. It helps the waste pass from the body carrying with it toxins dumped into it by the liver.
5. Stabilizes your blood sugar
Okra helps regulate the rate at which sugar is absorbed from the intestinal tract. And some of the compounds in okra seed help normalize glucose and might end up helping researchers trying to find a cure for diabetes. Indian researchers who published a study in 2011 in the Journal of Pharmacy & BioAllied Sciences found that when their subjects ate dried and ground okra peels and seeds they had a reduction in their blood glucose levels. A 10-day regime based on okra extract showed significant improvements.
And in Turkey, people have been using roasted okra seeds as a traditional diabetes medicine for generations. So the health benefits of okra are apparent even to simple consumers. Of course, that doesn’t mean that you should replace your insulin with okra because it really doesn’t work like that. Okra doesn’t make your diabetes go away. It’s just some extra help for your body that doesn’t substitute actual medical care.
Now that you know you should cook with okra, how about you learn how to make the most of this veggie?