Are you aware of the immense benefits of okra (ladies fingers)? If yes, then thumbs up! Otherwise, read through this post to understand why including okra in your diet is highly imperative. It is noteworthy that having a good knowledge of some healthy vegetables, plants and food products around us is profoundly essential.

One of such key vegetables that are very important to human health is okra. Okra (ladies fingers), which is botanically known as Abelmoschus esculentus Moench or Hibiscus esculenta, is a flowering plant belonging to the mallow family. Okra is originally from Ethiopia before spreading to other continents such as the Caribbean, West Africa, United States and Asia.

Different countries have different names for okra such as okro, ọkwụrụ, bhindi, gumbo, bamia, dherosh, ladies fingers, ochro, gumbo or ọ́kụ̀rụ̀. The green seed pod is the edible part of this vegetable, although some people also use the leaves for other types of food preparations.

Okra can either grow annually or perennially with an approximate height of up to 2 m tall. Okra leaves comprise of approximately 4-8 lobes with a measurement of 10–21 cm long and broad. Okra has a characteristic capsule shape of approximately 14-18 cm long with many seeds encapsulated in it. Okra (Abelmoschus esculentus) is mainly planted for its greenish pods, white seeds and even greenish leaves. But the types of okra leaves that are usually consumed are those without thorns. 

Okra is characterised by gelatinous slimy seeds that contain soluble fibre. Okra is an excellent source of antioxidants, potassium, linoleic acid, dietary fibre, calcium, vitamin C, protein and folate content.




Okra Promotes Healthy Pregnancy
The high content of folate, vitamin B and vitamin C in Okra is highly beneficial for maintaining a healthy pregnancy. These essential vitamins aid the body to build and maintain new cells, which are super important for maintaining optimal pregnancy. 

Moreover, these vitamins help to maintain appropriate fetal brain development as well as prevent birth defects in unborn babies such as spina bifida. Consuming okra constantly by pregnant women allows the baby to develop very well without defects.

Dermatological benefits of Okra (ladies fingers)
Okra is an excellent source of vital antioxidants, vitamin B, vitamin C and vitamin K thus can help to maintain healthy and glow-looking skin. These vital antioxidants and nutrients facilitate the growth and repair of the body tissues. Including okra in our diets also revitalise our skin and hair as well as protects the body tissues from the risk of degenerative diseases caused as a result of free radical damages to the body.

Blood Coagulant
Okra is an excellent source of vitamin K, which boosts the blood coagulant ability as well as helps in blood clot formation. Individuals suffering from frequent bleeding nose, heavy menstrual flow, bleeding gum, or easy bleeding from bruising ought to always include okra in their diet as a result of the high vitamin K constituent.

Okra prevents Cardiovascular Heart Diseases
Studies reveal that including okra (ladies finger) in our diet helps to maintain healthy functioning heart due to the presence of pectin and soluble fibre in the vegetable. It is believed that this soluble fibre helps to reduce high serum cholesterol level thereby minimising the risk of cardiovascular diseases. So in a nutshell, eating okra is a perfect and cheapest way of maintaining normal body’s cholesterol level.

Diabetes Treatment
Okra is an excellent source of dietary fibre, which helps to regulate the blood sugar level by regulating the absorption rate of sugar through the intestinal tract. The high fibre content of okra makes it highly recommendable for diabetic patients as a way of stabilising their blood sugar level. 

Okra can be sliced and soaked overnight in a water-filled jar. The drink can be consumed by diabteic patients for reducing and regulating their blood sugar levels. The diabetes-curing ability of okra (ladies fingers) is as a result of its ability to slow down the sugar-absorptive processes in the intestines.

Prevention of Kidney Failure
Studies reveal that including okra in human’s diet is capable of preventing kidney stones and other kidney-related diseases.

Treatment of Digestive Problems
Regular consumption of okra is very important for preventing digestion-related problems. This is as a result of the high dietary fibre, anti-adhesive properties and high polysaccharides constituent of okra. 

The anti-adhesive properties of okra help to get rid of the grip between the stomach tissue and the bacteria such as Helicobacter pylori, thereby inhibiting the bacteria from growing.

Helicobacter pylori is a bacterium that thrives in the stomach, which causes gastric ulcers and gastritis if left untreated. So it is noteworthy that including more okra in our diets is a brilliant way of promoting our colon health as well as flushing our stomach and intestines from toxins and bacteria. Regular intake of okra helps to maintain a favourable environment that stops destructive bacteria from thriving in the stomach.

Culinary Purposes of Okra
Okra can be used for cooking food such as stew, soup, yam vegetables, sauces etc. The thick slimy polysaccharides present in the okra pods help to get the stew or soup thickened with ease. Okra seeds can be pressed for its yellowish-green oil that contains linoleic and oleic acid. Besides, the oil is also very tasteful and aromatic and can serve as a biofuel.

Okra leaves can also be used for preparing salads, cooking stews, soups, vegetable sauce , yam and vegetables or yam porridge.

Benefits of okra (ladies fingers)

Okra Flower

Reduction of High Cholesterol Level
Regular consumption of okra (lady’s fingers) helps to regulate the body’s cholesterol level due to the presence of polysaccharide in the vegetable. Most of the food products consumed by human beings contain high cholesterol content. However, including okra in our diets is an easier and cheaper way of reducing high cholesterol level.

Maintains Healthy Eyesight
Okra (lady’s fingers) is an excellent source of beta-carotene and vitamin A, which are highly recommended for maintaining normal vision and eyesight.

Cancer Prevention
The polysaccharide content of Hibiscus esculenta helps to prevent cancer due to its ability to bind bile acids.

This post is for enlightenment purposes only and should not be used as a replacement for professional diagnostic and treatments. Remember to always consult your healthcare provider before making any health-related decisions or for counselling, guidance and treatment about a specific medical condition.

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Akinyele, B. O. and Temikotan, T. (2007), Effect of variation in soil texture on the vegetative and pod characteristics of okra (Abelmoschus esculentus (L.) Moench, International Journal of Agricultural Research 2: 165-167.

Andras, C. D., Simandi, B., Orsi, F., Lambrou, C., Tatla, D.M., Panayiotou, C., Domokos, J., and Doleschall. F. (2005), Supercritical carbon dioxide extraction of Okra (Hibiscus esculentus L.) seeds. Journal of Scientific Food Agric., 85: 1415-1417.

Fubara-Manuel, I. and Nkakini, S. O. (2014), Performance of Okra (Abelmoschus Esculentus (L) Moench) under varying soil moisture regimes and palm fruit residue ash in Port Harcourt, Nigeria, European International Journal of Science and Technology, Vol. 3 No. 4, pp.96-98.

Kumar S, Dagnoko S, Haougui A, Ratnadas A, Pasternak D, Kouame C. (2010), Okra (Abelmoschus spp.) in West and Central Africa: potential and progress on its improvement. African Journal of Agricultural Research (5), pp. 3590-3595.

Ojo, J. A., Olunloyo, A. A. and Ibitoye, O. (2014), Evaluation of Botanical Insecticides against flea beetles Podagrica sjostedti and Podagrica uniforma of okra, International Journal of Advanced Research, Volume 2, Issue 4, 236-22.

Pitan, O.O.R. and Ekoja, E.E. (2012), Growth inhibition and fruit distortion in okra (Abelmoschus esculentus) induced by the flea beetle Podagrica uniforma (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae) herbivory, International Journal of Tropical Insect Science, 32, pp 210-217.

Gemede, H. F., Ratta, N., Haki, G. D. and Ashagrie, Z. (2014), Nutritional Quality and Health Benefits of Okra (Abelmoschus Esculentus): A Review, Global Journal of Medical Research, Vol. 14 Issue 5.

Ndangui, C. B., Kimbonguila, A., Nzikou, J. M., Matos, L., Pambou, N.P .G., Abena, A. A., Silou, T. H., Scher, J., & De sobry, S. (2010), Nutritive Composition and Properties Physico-chemical of gumbo(Abelmoschus esculentu s L.) Seed and Oil, Research Journal of Environmental and Earth Sciences 2(1), pp. 49-52.

Sorapong Benchasr, (2012). Okra (Abelmoschus esculentus(L.) Moench) as a Valuable Vegetable of the World. Ratar, 49, pp. 105-110.

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