okra soup on table

14 Okra Health Benefits You Didn’t Know About

Unless you’re from the southern part of the United States or the Caribbean, you might not be aware that okra even exists. This nutrient packed vegetable, often called ladies’ fingers or gumbo, is often overlooked among super foods, but there are a ton of okra health benefits to be considered. We’ll take a look at 14 okra health benefits that you didn’t know about in a moment, but let’s get a little more familiar with okra first.

About Okra

Okra’s origin is disputed among West Africa, Ethiopia, and Southern Asia all being contenders. In any case, okra is most commonly used in the UK, the United States (especially in the South) and the Caribbean. Cajun and Caribbean cooking tend to use it a lot, and the rest of us should also be taking advantage of its vital vitamins and minerals. 100 grams (1/2 cup) of okra provide:

  • Manganese – 43% DV;
  • Vitamin K – 30% DV;
  • Vitamin C – 28% DV;
  • Fiber – 20% DV;
  • Thiamin – 17% DV;
  • Magnesium – 16% DV;
  • Folate – 15% DV;
  • Vitamin A – 9.5% DV;
  • Calcium – 8% DV;
  • Protein – 4% DV;
  • Beta carotene 210 micrograms (there is no DV for this).

With this nutritional profile, okra contributes several unique health benefits of which you ought to take advantage. There are other nutritional attributes which make it a great asset to your health such as its high content of oleic acid and linoleic acid.

Selecting the best quality of okra and getting the best flavor out of it, try to select young and tender pods or fingers of okra to fry or add to your recipes. Before we dive into the 14 okra health benefits you didn’t know about, let’s look at a few precautions concerning the use of okra in your diet.

okras in bowls

Precaution for Using Okra

There are few precautions when using and consuming okra. It is considered very safe for consumption by everyone. However, there is one consideration to the possible connection between the consumption of high amounts of okra and male infertility, though studies are still somewhat inconclusive.

It is suggested that okra might also reduce the effectiveness of the diabetic drug, Metformin. Additionally, because okra contains a high amount of fructan, it is not recommended for people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or who are prone to kidney stones due to its oxalates content.

14 Okra Health Benefits You Didn't Know About

Aids Healthy Blood Clotting

A major item on our list of okra health benefits is its ability to aid in healthy blood clotting.

What to do:

  • Consume ½ to 1 cup of okra in your diet at least 3 to 4 times per week.

How it works:

Okra is high in vitamin K, which is essential for synthesizing the proteins involved in healthy blood clotting.

Improved Eye Health

Improved eye health is another among the long list of okra health benefits.

What to do:

  • Okra pickles make a great snack or hors devours and is another great way of getting more okra into your diet.

How it works:

The vitamin A and beta-carotene levels found in okra help improve and maintain better eye health.

Constipation Relief

Another the many okra health benefits is that it can help bring relief from constipation and other digestive issues.

What to do:

How it works:

The high fiber content and okra’s mucilage help make it a gentle laxative, which also helps to soothe your intestinal track and relieves the discomfort of constipation.

Balancing Blood Sugar

Balancing blood sugar is one of the most talked about of all of the okra health benefits.

What to do:

  • You can’t find a better way to balance your blood sugar than serving a tomato and okra gumbo at least once a week.

How it works:

A 2011 study in India reported that okra seeds have blood glucose stabilizing properties and a lipid profile that helps to control blood sugar levels and diabetes.

Coffee Replacement

Also included our list of okra health benefits is its value as a replacement for coffee to those who aren’t able to consume caffeine.

What to do:

  • Dump okra seeds into a heavy, preheated skillet and stir them frequently to prevent scorching.
  • The seeds will turn dark green to light gray, then start to turn brown
  • Stir until the seeds pop (about 10 minutes). If you roast them longer be sure to put a lid on to keep them from jumping out of the skillet.
  • Dump the seeds from the skillet and allow them cool.
  • Use a coffee grinder to grind the seeds.
  • Brew and drink.
  • You can also use an electric popcorn popper to roast the seeds.

How it works:

Okra is a very healthy alternative to caffeinated coffee, but is close to the flavor coffee drinkers expect. I was used extensively in the south as a coffee substitute during the War Between the States.

Immunity Boosting

Also included in our list of okra health benefits is immunity boosting.

What to do:

  • Add a little Cajun cooking to your diet and help get more of okra’s nutrients using this Jambalaya recipe.

How it works:

Okra is loaded with antioxidants and plenty of vitamin C to help fight off illnesses and disease.

Conditioner for Hair

You surely didn’t know that one of the many okra health benefits was as a hair conditioner.

What to do:

  • Slice 6 to 8 okra pods longwise.
  • Simmer in 8 oz. of boiling distilled water tossing them to keep them from getting scorched until they create a gooey gel.
  • Allow them to cool and add a few drops of your favorite essential oil, like mint or lavender.
  • Use the gel as a conditioner after shampooing.

How it works:

The antioxidants, vitamins A, C and K, beta-carotene and the abundance of minerals in okra help to enrich damaged hair and maintain a healthy scalp.

okras on table

Asthma Relief

Bringing relief to asthma suffers is another item among important okra health benefits.

What to do:

  • Place 4 fresh okra pods with the ends removed into 3 cups of water.
  • Allow the pods to soak overnight.
  • Drink the water the following morning on an empty stomach.
  • Repeat daily or at least several times a week.

How it works:

The high levels of vitamin C found in okra are extremely beneficial to bringing relief to asthma and other respiratory illnesses.

Cardiovascular Health

Still more of the many okra health benefits are found in improving your cardiovascular health as well.

What to do:

  • If you still need more ways to make okra a part of your regular diet, try this potato and okra salad favored in the Southern U.S.

How it works:

Fiber, along with the other vitamins and minerals in okra, helps to regulate blood pressure and lower LDL and triglyceride levels for greater cardiovascular health.

Helps Prevent Sunstroke

With summer coming on, prevention of sunstroke or heatstroke as okra health benefits might be of great interest to you.

What to do:

  • Since you’re outdoors and enjoying the summer, why not add some grilled okra to your barbecue?

How it works:

Okra not only has a high water content to help keep you hydrated, but it also contains essential vitamins and minerals that fight against the effects of sunstroke.

Energy Boost

You can even enjoy an energy boost as one of the best okra health benefits.

What to do:

  • You simply can’t pass up trying out this pecan fried okra recipe as the greatest encouragement for consuming more okra on a regular basis.

How it works:

Okra combines the perfect amount of carbohydrates, proteins, and amino acids in its seeds to be a complete food and therefore can give your body a great boost of energy.

Treatment of Acne, Psoriasis, and Eczema

Another on our list of excellent okra health benefits is its treatment of acne, psoriasis, and eczema.

What to do:

  • Mash or puree two fresh medium sized okra pods.
  • Do not dilute the gel with water.
  • Apply the gel to your face and allow it to dry in place.
  • Rinse off with cool water.
  • Repeat daily until your skin condition improves.

How it works:

The slimy mucilage found in okra is rich in antibacterial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, analgesic and re-hydrating properties that make it perfect to treat acne and other skin conditions.

Strengthening Bones

Strengthening bones and the prevention of osteoporosis is also among the many okra health benefits.

What to do:

  • Okra fry bread is another great way to include more okra into your regular diet.

How it works:

Vitamin K, along with folate, is a major contributor in maintaining bone density and preventing bone loss and osteoporosis.

okras

Fetal Development Enhancement

The final, but in no way the least important addition to our list of okra health benefits is its ability to enhance fetal development in pregnant women.

What to do:

  • In place of gherkins and dills, feed your pickle cravings with okra pickles using the recipe listed above.

How it works:

Folates and folic acid, which are abundant in okra, not only prevent miscarriages, but also essential in the neural tube formation of your baby.

Conclusion

There are numerous reasons, 14 okra health benefits, to encourage use to consume okra as a regular part of your diet or even use it in topical applications. Make use of okra as a means of achieving one or more of the health benefits listed above and take command of better health for yourself and your family. Don’t forget to add your own recipes and tips in the comments below as well.

Images from depositphotos.com and pixabay.com.

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