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Affectionately referred to by Louisiana inhabitants as gumbo, Okra is a delicious vegetable native to both African and Asian cuisines.

Also referred to as lady’s fingers, okra is used in a number of soups and stews due to its ability to thicken these meals. Aside from its edible seeds, the inside of the okra pods contains a jelly-like substance called mucilage. This substance is responsible for okra’s ability to thicken soups and stews.

In addition to its thickening capabilities, okra is a great dietary source of fiber, antioxidants, folic acid, and calcium. It also contains vitamins B and C. As a result, this green vegetable makes us fall deeper in love with it because of all the benefits it helps to provide.

Why we love okra

1. Anti-cancer properties

Free radicals are molecules in the body that increase the risk for chronic diseases such as cancer.

The antioxidants found in okra can fight off free radicals and thus reduce the risk of cancer. In fact, lectins (a form of protein) taken from the vegetable were found to have lowered the growth of breast cancer cells by over 50% (1).

2. Encourages digestive health

As mentioned, okra is a great source of dietary fiber which then means it can encourage a healthy digestive system.

okra | Longevity LIVE

Not only can the mucilage stimulate smoother digestion, but okra also helps to prevent digestive issues such as constipation (2).

3. Fights kidney disease

The kidneys are the body’s own filter system, helping to remove waste and other toxins, thus it is important to ensure its functionality.

According to a study published in the American Journal of Kidney Diseases, okra helped to reduce the signs of kidney damage.

4. Great for bone health

One of the nutrients found in okra is calcium, which makes the vegetable a great non-dairy source for this bone-building mineral. Moreover, the addition of vitamin K  encourages the body’s absorption of calcium and this then creates stronger bones and decreases the risk for osteoporosis.

5. Helps manage diabetic symptoms

If you’re a diabetic trying to manage your blood sugar levels, adding okra to your diet may be effective.

Firstly, this vegetable has a low glycemic index which means that it prevents blood sugar spikes. Secondly, according to a study published in the journal Natural Product Communication, the consumption of water with roasted okra seeds helped to lower blood sugar levels.

6. Maintaining cardiovascular health

In addition to maintaining digestive health, the fiber content can also help to protect heart health.

High levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol can increase the risk of heart disease, heart attacks, and stroke. However, the consumption of okra can lower this risk, thanks to its fiber content. Along with the mucilage, the soluble fibre protects heart health by reducing levels of LDL cholesterol (3). 

7.  Retains healthy skin

Collagen is a protein in the body that helps the skin maintain a youthful and supple appearance.

Unfortunately, levels of collagen decrease in the body as we age and this can then leave us with tired and aged skin. However, vitamin C found in okra can help one maintain their youthful appearance. Vitamin C not only encourages the production of collagen but also encourages the growth of new skin cells.

8. Supports a healthy pregnancy

When it comes to a healthy pregnancy, folate is a mineral that needs to be constantly present.

Folate helps to support a healthy pregnancy by reducing the risk of birth defects and encouraging healthy fetal growth. Okra is extremely high in folate thus expectant mothers can learn to incorporate this mineral into their diet. 

Want to Know More?

While okra is a great vegetable that deserves a lot of praise, another food that’s getting a lot of attention are goldenberries. Click here to find out why these berries could be the next big super-berries.

Pie Mulumba

Pie Mulumba

Pie Mulumba is a beauty and wellness writer who has a passion for poetry, equality, natural hair, and skin-care. With a journalism degree from Pearson's Institute of Higher Education, and identifiable by either her large afro or colorful locks, Pie aspires to continuously provide the latest information, be it beauty or wellness, on how one can adopt a healthy lifestyle on a day-to-day basis.

The content in this editorial is for general information only and is not intended to provide medical or other professional advice. For more information on your medical condition and treatment options, speak to your healthcare professional.