The Origins Of Okra
According to history, one of the world’s most beautiful women, Cleopatra of Egypt, ate Okra, also known as “lady finger or gumbo”. It is characterized by its green color, elongated and tapering ridged pods infused with double row of seeds and slimy texture when cut open. This integral member of the cotton family is indigenous to regions around the Nile in North Africa and the Middle East for it was discovered dating as far as 3500 years ago in Ethiopia. Early Egyptians are known to love its taste. Okra later transcended to North America en route slave trade and then to Europe, Asia and South and Central America. During World War II, the shortage of coffee beans made them use the seeds as a substitute for coffee. This incident made the word “okra fever”. Since then, its popularity never disappeared from local markets to convenience stores throughout the world and throughout the year.
Okra Nutrition Value
Besides being low in calories, it is aplenty with vitamins of the category A, Thiamin, B6, C, folic acid, riboflavin, calcium, zinc and dietary fiber. Eating okra is highly recommended for pregnant woman because of its richness in folic acid, which is essential in the neural tube formation of the fetus during 4-12 weeks of gestation period in the mother’s womb. No wonder, Cleopatra was so beautiful!
- Vitamins – A cup of contains 26.1 mg of antioxidant vitamin C, which neutralizes free radicals and promotes a healthy immune system. Okra is also a good source of B-complex vitamins, with a cup offering up .211 mg of thiamin, or vitamin B-1, and .088 mg of riboflavin, or vitamin B-2; both are vital for energy production in the body. It also contains .299 mg — or 20 percent of the recommended daily value — of vitamin B-6, or pyridoxine, needed to produce over 100 enzymes involved in protein metabolism. Finally, it provides 453 IU of vitamin A — necessary for the health of the respiratory tract — along with an additional 272 mcg of the beneficial plant pigment beta-carotene, converted to vitamin A in the body.
- Minerals – With 123 mg of calcium per cup, okra provides more than 10 percent of the daily value of this essential mineral, vital for the maintenance of strong bones and teeth. It also contains 216 mg of potassium, needed for stable heart rate and blood pressure, as well as .45 mg of iron, necessary for hemoglobin production. Okra contributes healthy amounts of essential trace minerals, with .69 mg of zinc, essential for wound healing; .136 mg of copper, needed to produce red blood cells; and .470 mg of manganese, indispensable for producing the natural antioxidant superoxide dismutase.
Why Okra Is Good For You
- The pods contain healthy amounts of vitamin A, and flavonoid anti-oxidants such as beta-carotenes, xanthin and lutein. It is one of the green vegetables with highest levels of these anti-oxidants. These compounds are known to have antioxidant properties and are essential for vision. Vitamin A is also required for maintaining healthy mucus membranes and skin. Consumption of natural vegetables and fruits rich in flavonoids helps to protect from lung and oral cavity cancers.
- The superior fiber found in okra helps to stabilize the blood sugar by curbing the rate at which sugar is absorbed from within the intestinal tract.
- The mucilage binds cholesterol and bile acid carrying toxins dumped into it by the filtering liver.
- It helps lubricate the large intestines due to its bulk laxative qualities. The okra fiber absorbs water and ensures bulk in stools. This helps prevent and improve constipation. Unlike harsh wheat bran, which can irritate or injure the intestinal tract, okra’s mucilage soothes, and facilitates elimination more comfortably by its slippery characteristic. It also binds excess cholesterol and toxins (in bile acids), these can cause numerous health problems. Okra also assures easy passage out of waste from the body. It is completely non-toxic, non-habit forming, has no adverse side effects, is full of nutrients, and is economically within reach of most individuals unlike over-the-counter drugs.
- The fiber is excellent for feeding the good bacteria (probiotics). This contributes to the health of the intestinal tract.
- A supreme vegetable, used in treating those feeling weak, exhausted, and suffering from depression.
- Used for healing ulcers and to keep joints limber. It helps to neutralize acids, being very alkaline, and provides a temporary protective coating for the digestive tract.
- Okra treats lung inflammation, sore throat, and irritable bowel syndrome.
- Has been used successfully in experimental blood plasma replacements.
- Normalizes blood sugar and cholesterol levels.
- Good for asthma, it contains vitamin C which is an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, curtailing the development of asthma symptoms.
- Okra is good for atherosclerosis.
- It is believed to protect us from some forms of cancer expansion, especially colorectal cancer.
- Eating it helps to support the structure of blood capillaries.
- Some information shows that eating okra lowers the risk of cataracts.
- Prevents diabetes.
- Okra protects you from pimples and maintains smooth and beautiful skin. Maybe now we can understand the reason why Cleopatra loved it.
Okra is an excellent ingredient to include in most dishes, even if it is just as a soup thickener. There are many recipes to optimize okra for its nutritional value. There are some healthy recipes that can help in the control of the disease of diabetes and even a recipe for okra coffee! I hope that as its impressive nutritional profile becomes better known among cooks and foodies, okra will become a more popular ingredient in Western cuisine.
For Diabetes Sufferers - Cut the ends off of a few okra, put in a cup with water overnight, the next day remove the okra and drink the water...Diabetes will go away and so will your shots...Everything created by God.Tested on humans,the results, according to tests were miraculous! One volunteer said that their blood glucose decreased from 300 to 150.Another, fell from 195 to 94-and even said that the okra water played the role of insulin,very well done". Share this, as it will surely help many!!!