The ever-evolving trends in culinary popularity has always intrigued me. When I was first feeling the effects of my illness I went to great lengths to supplement my diet with organics, and nutrient rich foods like kale, quinoa and pomegranate were a dime a dozen.
These foods were simply not a popular choice for supermarkets at the time as most people knew next to nothing about them. The same could be said today about okra and I’m here to spread the word.
You heard it here first folks, okra is the new kale!
Although there are dishes popular to specific regions that use this green veggie in abundance, such as southern style gumbo, most Americans know next to nothing about it. It is an extremely versatile ingredient and has long been used in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine to add thickness to stews.
Okra is one of the most affordable vegetables on the market and with a mild flavor, can be added to just about all cooked vegetable dishes. Best of all, okra has incredible medicinal properties and is packed with a number of nutritional benefits.
Here are 10 benefits of this underrated vegetable:
Okra is among the top rating vegetables with a high content of powerful antioxidants like beta-carotene, xanthin, and lutein – all of which have been shown to defend against lung and oral cancers. The pectin in okra which gives it its sticky texture, was effective in destroying highly metastatic melanoma cells in mice.
2. Respiratory Problems:
The antioxidants in okra along with a large content of vitamin C are effective in treating respiratory problems and has shown to reduce the frequency of asthma attacks in patients.
3. Immune Booster:
Okra pods are an excellent source of vitamin C and provide upwards of 36% of the recommended daily intake. It’s no secret the power of vitamin C against fighting the common cold, but research has shown this antioxidant can actually fortify an immunity against infectious disease and deter harmful free radicals.
4. Bone Density:
Folates and vitamin K are essential to the development and maintenance of strong bones. Okra pods contains nearly 22% of recommended daily amount of folates per 100g.
Soluble fiber content in okra helps to lower serum cholesterol and encourages red blood cells, both effective in reducing the risk of heart attacks and disease.
If you’ve ever cooked okra you probably know it develops a sticky mucus like texture which is highly beneficial to the digestive tract and helps protect the stomach lining from harmful acids. Okra is also rich in fiber which is known to prevent blockage in the colon and encourage routine bowel movement, helping to regularly clean the body of toxins.
The same mucilage in okra which helps ease digestion can also heal and relieve the pain of stomach ulcers.
The superior soluble fiber content in okra shows powerful effects on blood glucose levels as it can help slow the rate at which sugar is absorbed from the intestinal tract.
9. Eye Sight:
The same beta-carotenes which tout carrots as the best vegetable for your eyes are present in okra and have been shown to prevent eye problems like glaucoma and cataracts.
Pregnant women are always encouraged to take folate supplements as it plays an important role in healthy cell division. Okra is rich in folate and can help deter against neural tube defects in babies.
Image Source: Health Digezt