Abelmoschus esculentus, mostly known as okro or okra in many English speaking countries, is a flowering plant in the mallow family. It is valued for its edible green seed pods.
Okro has long been favoured as a food for the health conscious folks. It contains: Potassium, Vitamin B, Vitamin c, Folic acid and Calcium. It’s low in calories and has high dietary fiber content.
The plant okro is mostly referred to as okra in the UK, Canada, United States and the Philippines, with a variant pronunciation in Caribbean English and Nigeria of okro. The word okra is from the Igbo ọ́kụ̀rụ̀
Okra is considered an important crop in many countries, because of its nutritional value, as many parts of the plant are useful, including the fresh leaves, buds, flowers, pods, stems, and seeds.
The taste is mild, but it has a unique texture with peach-like fuzz on the outside and small, edible seeds on the inside of the pod.
Okro is a green, finger-shaped vegetable with a characteristic viscous juice, it provides fiber folate, and vitamin K. Its nutritional content means it can promote heart health, strong bones and protect against cancer.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Nutrient Database, one cup of raw okro, weighing around 100 grams (g) contains: 33 calories,1.93 g of protein, 0.19 g of fat, 7.45 g of carbohydrate, 3.2 g of fiber, 1.48 g of sugar, 31.3 milligrams (mg) of vitamin K, 299 mg of potassium, 7 mg of sodium, 23 mg of vitamin C, 0.2 mg of thiamin, 57 mg of magnesium , 82 mg of calcium 0.215 mg of vitamin B6, 60 micrograms (mcg) of folate, 36 mcg of vitamin A.
Okro is also a source of antioxidant. Okro seeds contain oligomeric catechins and flavonoid derivatives, both of which have been linked to a lower risk of cancer. The gumbo itself contains quercetin derivatives, and both pods and seeds contain phenolic compounds.
Health Benefits of Okra
A diet rich in fruits and vegetables can reduce the risk of a range of health conditions, including obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.
The mucilage of okro is also said to bind cholesterol and bile acid. It collects toxins from the liver and carries them out of the body. The nutrients in okro may make it useful for preventing a number of health problems.
Lectin is a type of protein found in okro, beans, peanuts, and grains. Lectin from okro was used in a study to treat human breast cancer cells.
The treatment reduced cancer cell growth by 63 percent and killed 72 percent of the human cancer cells. More studies need to be done to see if okro has an effect on cancer in humans.
According to studies drinking “okro water” is a popular new method of using okro. Some have even suggested that drinking it helps lessen diabetes symptoms.
The drink is made by putting okro pods in water and soaking them overnight. Some of the valuable nutrients in the skin and seed pods will be absorbed into the water.
Drinking this okro water solution is a quick and simple way to derive the benefits of okro without eating it.
Some people prefer to cut the okro into thin slices instead of soaking the pods whole. If you’re going to prepare okro water this way, be prepared for a drink that is slightly bitter.
Okro peel and powdered seeds
Okro peel is the most traditional way to use okro medicinally.
In the preliminary studies done to investigate the benefits of using okro, using shredded okro peel was seen to be the most favourable way to ingest it.
You can prepare okro peel yourself by using a handheld kitchen grater or a lemon zester. Though there’s no known limit for how much okro peel someone should eat at one time, half of a teaspoon of okro peel should be more than enough for your body to benefit.
Powdered okro seeds are dried out before being ground down. Ingesting the powder from the seeds as a supplement has also been researched and seen to be beneficial.
The process of making the powder is a bit time-consuming and labour-intensive. However, you can easily buy powdered okro seeds from health food stores and online suppliers.
Okro recipe ideas
The gel inside of okro is a thickening agent, making it a common ingredient in some soups and stews.
Pickled okro is another popular okro variation that replaces the bitterness of the okro pod with a sour taste. Pickling okro also softens the peel.
If there is a dehydrator, drying out okro pods and seasoning them with sea salt makes a tasty snack to satisfy one’s craving for crunch.
There’s no conclusive medical research that proves that okro is a natural cure for diabetes.
It’s important to understand that okro is definitely not an insulin replacement. However, with so many possible benefits for diabetics, it may be worth trying alongside traditional treatment if medical practitioners agree.