Growing up, I was never really fond of eating any green vegetables except Okra. To be honest, it was the ONLY vegetable that appealed to me for the longest time, so much so that I didn’t mind having it every single day. Maybe it was the way that my mom cooked it. She would it into little pieces, roast them over medium heat with oil or butter and add caramelised onions to give the tanginess of ladyfingers a dash of sweetness. I remember the days when I would come home from school and the aroma of mom cooking bhindi would fill my heart with happiness.
However, this blissful privilege was available to me only in Summers i.e. from March to August, since that’s the best time to grow ladyfingers. I guess that’s what made me look forward to this special dish every off-season and led me to its indulgence a bit more than other vegetables. But okras aren’t just about the taste. The vegetable has a lot of health and beauty benefits too. Read on to find out why ladyfinger or okra should be everyone else’s favourite vegetable too!
Originated in the western parts of Africa, okra is a green flowering plant that is being cultivated since the 12th century BC. Packed with nutrients like Vitamin A, C, B, calcium, iron, proteins, magnesium, antioxidants, folic acid, calcium, fibre, etc - this vegetable is considered as one of the healthiest in the world. Given below is a list of health benefits of lady finger. Have a look!
The dietary fibre of okra is considered to be extremely high and thus, aids the process of digestion, facilitates proper bowel movement, prevents constipation and promotes regularity of detoxifying and flushing the toxins out of your body.
Cholesterol is considered as a dominant content in our body that triggers several heart diseases and ailments. The fibre in okra ensures a much less absorption of this devil in our system and lowers bad cholesterol levels in our body. Not only does this fibre help in maintaining our good heart health but also cuts down the risk of cardiovascular diseases and stroke. The magnesium found in okra further helps in regulating blood pressure levels.
Along with other health benefits of lady finger, it is also rich in a protein called lectin which is proven to fight human breast cancer cells and decrease the cancer cell growth in our body by at least 63%. It also contains folate which is essential in ensuring the prevention or risk of cancer of the breasts, lungs, cervix and pancreas.
It is believed that eight medium-sized okras contain over 3 grams of fibre. This superior insoluble fibre content helps in stabilising our blood sugar levels by slowing down the rate at which sugar is absorbed from our intestines. In fact, in countries like Turkey, roasted okra seeds are also used as a traditional medicine for treating diabetic patients. Okra also contains myricetin, an important substance which increases the sugar absorption by our muscles and lowers the blood sugar levels in our body quickly.
Studies prove that foods rich in Vitamin C help prevent the early symptoms of asthma. Hence, due to the high Vitamin C content found in okra, it becomes an important anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory vegetable which lessens the possibility of the development of asthma.
Okra is filled with Vitamin K which not only helps in strengthening our bones but our immune system as well. It thus plays a key role in our body’s bone metabolism which prevents us from several diseases and ailments.
Studies prove that regular consumption of okra can also help prevent kidney diseases. A 2005 Jilin Medical Journal mentioned that “those who ate okra daily reduced clinical signs of kidney damage more than those that simply ate a diabetic diet.” Plus, since 50% of kidney diseases are caused by diabetes, okra ends up alleviating the possibility of kidney failure by preventing the occurrence of diabetes in our body.
The high amount of folate availability in okra makes it extremely beneficial for the foetus growth and healthy development of the baby during pregnancy. It also prevents iron deficiency or anaemia in pregnant women by managing their haemoglobin levels. Okra further contains Vitamin C which enhances blood health of both the baby and the mother and is a necessity for the growing fetus and the placenta.
Okra contains two extremely important nutrients like Vitamin A and beta carotene which help in sustaining good eyesight. These nutrients also help in preventing eye problems like cataract and defend against age-associated eye disorders.
Due to its high calcium, magnesium and Vitamin B6 content, okra can help prevent or manage the severity of premenstrual symptoms such as fatigue, anxiety, headache, abdomen cramps, lower back pain, bloating and frequent urination.
Substances like lysine, magnesium and amino acid - which are all found in high content in okras help in relieving migraine attacks and minimize the occurrence and severity of such attacks too.
Okra contains high levels of magnesium and an amino acid called tryptophan which helps in improving one’s mood and relieving anxiety instantly. These nutrients also reduce depression, irritability and stress in elderly people.
Who wouldn't like to have that supple youthful skin? Of course! we all do. Here are some amazing benefits of okra for skin that will convince you to try it once.
Did you know that some of the most powerful and beautiful women of the world including Cleopatra of Ancient Egypt loved to eat okra? In fact, they even used okra in many of their beauty regimes. With the power of nutrients like Vitamin A and C, calcium and folate which are known to promote healthy skin cells, okra gives your skin a healthy and beautiful glow! Here’s a face pack you can try.
- DIY Face Mask
Add some organic okra powder (or crush some okra pods) and water into a bowl and mix it until the consistency is nice and smooth. Slather this paste on your face and let it sit for at least 15 minutes. Then, rinse your face with warm water. Do this once or twice a week and you will start feeling and noticing the difference on your skin.
Every anti-ageing product or face cream contains Vitamin C as it aids in repairing skin tissues, boosts collagen production and increases the elasticity of your skin. And yet, what everybody was unaware of (until now) was that just a handful of ladyfingers were equivalent to the amount of Vitamin C added in at least 4-5 anti-ageing products. Isn’t that amazing?
- DIY Anti-ageing Face Pack
Slice 6 okras and boil them in one cup of water for 10 minutes until they’re soft and mild. Now, add four tablespoons of greek yoghurt and one tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil to the okras. Blend these together until the mixture has a smooth consistency. Refrigerate this pack for a week before applying it on your face. Wash it off after 15 minutes to get smooth and supple skin!
The most essential component of a ladyfinger is in fact, its slime which a lot of us consider icky to even touch, let alone eat. Well, this gel has very potent antibacterial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, analgesic and re-hydrating properties which help in treating acne. All you need to do is make sure you don’t leave out the slime of okra in any of the above two face packs. According to Ayurveda, okras also have naturally cooling properties and therefore help in maintaining the excess sebum (oil glands) in your skin, prevent the occurrence of acne-causing germs and keep your skin clear and smooth.
Other than health and skin benefits, okra also provides several benefits for hair. Have a look at all such benefits of okra for hair.
Being a powerhouse of SO many important nutrients and proteins, it’s no surprise that okra works wonders on our hair too. All you need to do is boil some okra in water and leave it aside for some time so that the transparent mucilage sets on its own. Then, ditch your conditioner and use this to give your hair the natural shine it deserves.
If you’ve got curly, unruly or frizzy hair, the above mentioned homemade okra conditioner will be perfect for smoothening out your tresses and make your hair strands soft. It also strengthens your hair follicles and roots, prevents hair loss and ensures that your hair is full of life and bounce!
Not only does okra help in conditioning your hair but its naturally cooling and re-hydrating properties also moisturise your scalp and prevent dryness and itchiness. It also helps in fighting dandruff and keeps your scalp healthy and strong!
Eating too much of anything is never good for your health. Okra contains a certain carbohydrate called fructans that can cause diarrhoea, gastroenteritis, cramping and bloating for people with Irritable Bowel Syndrome or other gut conditions. It also contains a compound called solanine which is a toxic chemical, believed to cause joint pain, arthritis and aggravated inflammation. So eat, but in moderation!
The best way to eat okra is by cooking it in a way that it tastes delicious without losing any of its nutritious values. One of the most popular ways is to saute it in oil before adding all the spices and later, removing okra from the pan, setting it aside and adding it towards the end once you’ve prepared the rest of the dish. You could also soak okras in vinegar or lemon water before frying it to cut down some slime and add more flavour to it.
You can also make okra juice and add a pinch of pink salt to it. As compared to other vegetable juices (especially bitter gourd), it tastes yum! Also, if don’t like the taste of okra, you can drink ‘okra water’ as there are numerous health benefits of okra water. It is made by putting okra pods in water and soaking them overnight. It’ll be a quick way to derive all the benefits of okra without actually eating it.
Fresh okras do not last for more than 3 to 4 days, so they can definitely be eaten raw or added in soups, salads and stews. Young okra greens can either be cooked like spinach or eaten raw too. In some places, the seeds of okra are also used as a coffee substitute and pressed for oil.
Adding okra to your diet can help in managing your weight. Due to its high fibre content, it increases satiety and satiation which prevents people from overeating (the main reason for weight gain and obesity). Being further rich in calcium, it also reduces the levels of fat stored in your body and decreases your body weight.