NUTRITION: Six (6) Health Benefits of Okra

By DailyNewsUG Health Correspondent,

Okra is a flowering plant known for its edible seed pods. Okra comes in two colors — red and green. Both varieties taste the same, and the red one turns green when cooked.

Biologically classified as a fruit, okra is generally utilized like a vegetable in cooking. It can have a slimy texture, which some people find unappealing. Though it’s not one of the most common foods, okra is packed with nutrition.

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Here are 6 nutrition and health benefits of okra.

1. Rich in nutrients

Okra boasts an impressive nutrient profile. Okra is an excellent source of vitamins C and K1. Vitamin C is a water-soluble nutrient that contributes to your overall immune function, while vitamin K1 is a fat-soluble vitamin that’s known for its role in blood clotting (2Trusted Source, 3Trusted Source).

Additionally, okra is low in calories and carbs and contains some protein and fiber. Many fruits and vegetables lack protein, which makes okra somewhat unique.

Eating enough protein is associated with benefits for weight management, blood sugar control, bone structure, and muscle mass. Okra is rich in many nutrients and particularly high in vitamins C and K. This fruit is unique, as it provides protein, a nutrient that many other fruits and vegetables lack.

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2. Contains beneficial antioxidants

Okra packs many antioxidants that benefit your health. Antioxidants are compounds in food that fend off damage from harmful molecules called free radicals. The main antioxidants in okra are polyphenols, including flavonoids and isoquercetin, as well as vitamins A and C

Research shows that eating a diet high in polyphenols may improve heart health by lowering your risk of blood clots and oxidative damage.

Okra is rich in antioxidants that may reduce your risk of serious diseases, prevent inflammation, and contribute to overall health. Most notably, it contains polyphenols that may contribute to heart and brain health.

3. May lower heart disease risk

High cholesterol levels are associated with a greater risk of heart disease. Okra contains a thick gel-like substance called mucilage, which can bind to cholesterol during digestion, causing it to be excreted with stools rather than absorbed into your body.

Animal research suggests that okra may bind to cholesterol in your gut and lower blood cholesterol levels. It’s also rich in polyphenols, which fight harmful inflammation and protect your heart.

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4. May have anti-cancer properties

Okra contains a type of protein called lectin, which may inhibit the growth of human cancer cells.

One test-tube study in breast cancer cells found that the lectin in okra may prevent cancer cell growth by up to 63% (12Trusted Source).

Okra contains a protein called lectin, which is being studied for its role in cancer prevention and treatment. More human research is needed.

5. May lower blood sugar

Maintaining healthy blood sugar levels is very important for your overall health. Consistently high blood sugar can lead to pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes.

Researchers suggested that the okra decreased sugar absorption in the digestive tract, leading to a more stable blood sugar response (15Trusted Source).

6. Beneficial for pregnant women

Folate (vitamin B9) is an important nutrient for pregnant women. It helps lower the risk of a neural tube defect, which affects the brain and spine of a developing fetus.

It’s recommended that all women of childbearing age consume 400 mcg of folate every day. A review that included 12,000 healthy adult women found that most consumed just 245 mcg of folate per day, on average.

Another study that followed 6,000 non-pregnant women over 5 years discovered that 23% of participants had inadequate folate concentrations in their blood. Eating okra may help pregnant women meet their daily folate needs. Folate is important for preventing neural tube defects.

The bottom line

Okra is a nutritious food with many health benefits. It’s rich in magnesium, folate, fiber, antioxidants, and vitamin C, K1, and A. Okra may benefit pregnant women, heart health, and blood sugar control. It may even have anticancer properties.

SOURCE: HEALTHLINE.COM https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/okra-health-benefits

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