Okra is a very healthy edible seed pod. Nutritionist Sereen Zawahri Krasuna from the Cleveland Clinic in the United States explains the health benefits of eating okra.
What is okra?
Okra is a green or red fruit from the mallow family that is full of healthy antioxidants, fiber, vitamins and minerals that are beneficial for blood sugar levels, bones, heart and digestion.
Okra contains no cholesterol and is low in fat, sodium and calories. Okra also provides high amounts of vitamin K, vitamin C, vitamin B6, manganese, folic acid, magnesium, thiamine and calcium.
Healthy for the heart
According to Zawahri Krasuna, in order to protect yourself from cardiovascular diseases, you should pay particular attention to a heart-healthy diet and maintaining healthy cholesterol levels, and this is exactly where okra is very helpful.
For example, the results of two non-human research studies suggest that okra may have positive effects on cholesterol levels. In one of the studies, a diet containing one to two percent okra resulted in corresponding benefits, while in the other study, taking an okra extract was associated with an improvement in cholesterol levels.
Polyphenols inhibit inflammation
Okra also contains high levels of polyphenols, which one study suggests may help reduce blood pressure and cholesterol levels. In addition, they inhibit inflammation that is associated with arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries).
Overall, okra pods can have an extremely beneficial effect against cardiovascular diseases, which, according to the Robert Koch Institute, are the leading cause of death in Central Europe.
Okra beneficial for blood sugar
Okra also helps maintain healthy blood sugar levels, which one study suggests may be due to okra’s potential to reduce the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream.
However, further research in humans is warranted to determine how well okra can regulate blood sugar levels. The fiber contained in okra could also contribute to healthy blood sugar levels.
“They work by slowing the absorption of sugar and carbohydrates, and okra is a great high-fiber food,” the nutritionist said in a press release.
Healthy for the stomach and intestines
The high fiber in okra can also reduce the risk of colon cancer, according to study results. Since okra also has high amounts of the fiber pectin, the fruit is very beneficial for the healthy bacteria in the intestinal flora that feed on it, adds Zawahri Krasuna.
A healthy intestinal flora is not only associated with less flatulence and constipation as well as improved bowel movements, but can also have numerous other positive effects on health.
Stronger bones thanks to okra
Furthermore, okra can improve bone health as the fruit is an excellent source of calcium. Okra also contains vitamin K, which is needed for the growth and maintenance of bones, says Zawahri Krasuna.
How to use okra?
Okra can be used as part of salads, stews and vegetable dishes and also goes very well with potatoes and carrots, although the seeds of okra can simply be used because they are edible. Otherwise, okra is particularly suitable as a bean substitute in almost every dish. (as)