DID YOU KNOW?
Okra (Hibiscus esculentus L.) is a tall growing, warm season and annual vegetable crop. It is a popular and profitable vegetable crop in the country. The young and tender fruits can be prepared as a salad, boiled, or fried and can be mixed in any meat and fish dishes. It is also an important vegetable mix of the famous Ilocano dish, pinakbet. Okra is rich in vitamin A, protein, calcium, fats, potassium, phosphorus, iron and carbohydrates.
Aside from its nutritional value, okra is used in traditional medicine for the treatment of stomach ulcer, inflammation of the lungs, colitis and sore throat.
Nearly half of the fruit is soluble fiber in the forms of gums and pectins. Soluble fiber helps lower serum cholesterol, reducing the risk of heart disease. The other half is insoluble fiber which helps keep the intestinal tract healthy decreasing the risk of some forms of cancer, especially colorectal cancer. Nearly 10% of the recommended levels of vitamin B6 and folic acid are also present in a half cup of cooked okra.
Also known as ladies fingers or bhindi, okra has the ability to manage diabetes. In a 2011 study published in the “Journal of Pharmacy and Bioallied Sciences”, it was found that okra seeds and peel have a potent antioxidant power that can help people with Type 2 diabetes. In fact, in Turkey, people drink okra water (water infused with roasted okra seeds) as a traditional therapy for the said condition. In the Philippines, too, diabetics soak okra fruits in drinking water to ease their diabetes problem.
Another study conducted by the Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine revealed that okra may lower total cholesterol levels.
Other health benefits of this plant food include:
- the ability to improve the digestive health
- helps reduce stress
- lowers cholesterol and triglyceride levels in the body
- increases endurance levels
- reduces fatigue
Content and Featured Photo courtesy of the Department of Agriculture (DA) Region VII, Central Visayas, Philippines.