Okra - good for bones, cholesterol and intestines


Okra, also known in some English-speaking countries as lady's fingers, is a species of edible annual plant from the Malvaceae family, which includes the better-known hollyhock and hibiscus.

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It probably comes from what is now Ethiopia. It is currently cultivated in many countries with tropical or subtropical climates due to its high nutritional value.

What does the edible okra look like? It reaches a height of 1 to 4 meters. Light yellow flowers with a burgundy center grow from the axils of the leaves, resembling hollyhock flowers.

The most frequently used part of okra are fruits with a rather unusual shape - elongated, slightly curved pods, often 15-20 cm long. They look like slightly larger green chili peppers (they can also be, for example, purple, but purple okra turns green when cooked).

They have a fibrous consistency and contain numerous small seeds inside. Although the pods are classified as a fruit, they are eaten as a vegetable. Other parts of okra are also used for various purposes, including leaves, flowers and seeds.

Okra is a common ingredient in South American and African cuisine. This includes: an essential ingredient of gumbo - a thick soup made of meat and seafood. The taste of okra resembles green beans or zucchini.

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Okra - nutrients

Okra boasts an impressive set of nutrients. It is, among others, an excellent source of vitamin C and vitamin K1. It also provides vitamin A and B vitamins, including vitamin B6 and vitamin B9, as well as minerals like calcium, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus and iron.

It has few calories. A handful of raw okra has about 30 kcal. Okra is also a source of fiber and protein. Importantly, it is rich in antioxidants.

Substances found in okra have been studied for their potential therapeutic effects on various diseases, including type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases, as well as anti-fatigue, liver detoxification, antibacterial and chemopreventive effects.

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Properties of okra

Okra, as we have already mentioned, contains, among others: antioxidants that are extremely valuable for the body.

The main antioxidants present in okra are polyphenols, including flavonoids and isoquercetin, as well as vitamins A and C. Antioxidants stabilize free radicals so that they no longer cause damage.

Including okra in your diet, which increases the antioxidant content, helps reduce oxidative stress and reduces the risk of many diseases, including: type 2 diabetes, heart disease or cancer.

A diet rich in antioxidants also has a positive effect on brain function. Okra also contains a type of protein called lectin, which may inhibit the growth of cancer cells.

Research suggests that okra may have a positive effect on cholesterol levels. An improvement in cholesterol levels was observed both when consuming it and using the extract.

Thus, it can reduce the risk of many serious diseases, including: heart attack or atherosclerosis. Animal studies have also shown that eating okra or taking okra extract can lead to lower blood sugar levels. However, researchers warn that consuming okra may interfere with the effect of metformin, a frequently taken anti-diabetic drug.

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Vitamin C, which okra is rich in, helps support the healthy functioning of the immune system. It is also rich in vitamin K, which is important for our bones and blood - it is involved in the synthesis and maintenance of the proper concentration of coagulation factors and affects the metabolism of bone tissue. It is worth remembering that okra is also a good source of calcium.

Okra also provides a lot of folic acid, which plays a very important role during pregnancy and is necessary for the proper development of the child. Eating okra by expectant mothers can help them meet their daily needs for this compound.

As a source of dietary fiber, the plant has a positive effect on the digestive system. Moreover, pectins are an important modulator of the composition of intestinal micro flora. However, although okra can provide many benefits to the intestines, eating larger portions may result in bloating or diarrhea.

Some studies also point to other potential properties of okra, including anti-fatigue, hepato-protective, diuretic, anti-ulcer and neurological disorders properties.

How to use okra?

Okra can be eaten both raw and cooked. However, we rarely find fresh okra in stores, much more often frozen or pickled okra. An alternative to pickled okra is to sow and grow it in your home garden.

There are many different ways to prepare okra. It can be boiled, baked, fried, steamed, grilled and dried. It is often added to soups and stews (adding to a soup or stew allows the dish to thicken), as well as pasta or tomato sauce.

Okra has a fairly neutral taste and absorbs the aromas of other ingredients in the dish. Raw, it can be used, for example, as an addition to salads. Recently, drinking okra water has become popular.


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