What is Okra?  I personally have never heard of it prior to trying them fried to a crisp with a light batter like zucchini … but Okra is a warm-season vegetable popular in the southern United States, parts of Africa and the Middle East, the Caribbean, and South America.  The small green pods of Okra are also called gumbo or ladies fingers.

The taste of Okra is mild and similar to eggplant. It has a unique texture with peach-like fuzz on the outside and mini edible seeds on the inside of the pod.  Okra is a nutrition powerhouse full of vitamins, minerals, and fiber.

5 possible health benefits of eating Okra

Many studies have suggested that eating more plant foods like okra reduces the risk of conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.  Eating more plant foods may also help with increasing energy levels and keeping a healthy complexion and hair.

Cancer

Lectin is a type of protein found in okra, beans, peanuts, and grains. Lectin from okra was used in a study to treat human breast cancer cells. The treatment reduced cancer cell growth by 63 percent and killed 72 percent of the human cancer cells.

People who do not eat enough folate are at a higher risk for breast, cervical, pancreatic, lung, and other cancers. Researchers are unsure of why folate intake and cancer risk are connected.

There is no evidence that taking a folate supplement lowers the risk for cancer. As a result, getting folate from food like okra is important. Getting enough folate is especially important for women who are pregnant and people who are dependent on alcohol.

More studies need to be done to see if okra has an effect on cancer in humans.

Diabetes

In a 2011 study, researchers made a powder from the peel and seed of okra to treat rats with diabetes. The rats that were treated with the powder had lower blood sugar and fat levels than rats that did not receive the powder.

Heart health

According to the American Heart Association, eating foods that are high in fiber can reduce harmful cholesterol levels in the blood. High-fiber foods lower the risk of heart disease, stroke, obesity, and diabetes. Fiber can also slow heart disease in people who already have it.

People should aim to get at least 25 grams of fiber per day from vegetables, fruits, and legumes. It is best to choose whole grains over processed grains like white breads and snack cakes. Okra has 3.2 grams of fiber per cup.

Osteoporosis

Foods that are high in vitamin K like okra are good for the bones. Vitamin K helps the bones to absorb calcium. People who eat a low amount of vitamin K are more likely to have fractures.

Okra and leafy greens such as Swiss chard, arugula, and spinach add vitamin K and calcium to a diet. Just one cup of okra has 66 percent of an adult’s daily need for vitamin K.

Regularity

Eating fiber helps to prevent constipation and maintain a healthy digestive system.  Fiber in the diet also helps to reduce appetite and may aid in weight loss.