Okro is biologically classified as a fruit but used as a vegetable in cooking. It is cultivated mostly in Africa and South Asia. It can be used to make soups and serve as thickeners in some dishes. While some may not like okro because of it gets slime when cooked, however, the health benefits gotten from okro are remarkable.
Okro is an excellent source of vitamins C and K1 as well as other vitamins. It is also rich in minerals such as potassium, sodium, magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, copper, iron and niacin. It is low in carbs and calories and contains some protein and fiber. Here are some health benefits gotten from eating okro.
1. Contains antioxidants:
Okro is a good source of antioxidants. The main antioxidants in okro are polyphenols including flavonoids and isoquercetin as well as vitamins A and C. These compounds help to fight off damage from harmful molecules called free radicals. The polyphenols also protect the body against inflammation.
2. Improves heart health:
Okro contains a gel-like substance called mucilage which can bind to cholesterol during digestion causing it to be excreted with stools rather than being absorbed in the body thus reducing high cholesterol levels.
3. May reduce risk of cancer:
Unlike most fruits and vegetables, okro contains a type of protein called lectin which may inhibit the growth of human cancer cells. A test tube research showed that the lectin in okro may prevent cancer cell growth by up to 63%. However, more human research is needed to draw conclusions. Okro also contains folate which reduce the risk of developing cervical, pancreatic, lung and breast cancer.
4. May lower blood sugar:
Research suggests that consuming okro decreased sugar absorption in the digestive tract thereby, leading to a more stable blood sugar response. This can consequently prevent type 2 diabetes. However, it is important to note that, consuming okro interfere with metfornin, a diabetes drug. Therefore, those taking this drug is not advised to eat okro.
5. Prevents osteoporosis:
Okro is a good source of vitamin K and calcium which are important for bone formation , bone strengthening and blood clotting thus, preventing osteoporosis (bone loss) and fractures.
6. Improves digestive health:
Okro is a good source of fiber. Dietary fiber helps prevent constipation and help maintain a healthy digestive system. It also helps reduce appetite and can contribute to weight loss. In addition, the fiber in okro also helps reduce the chance of developing colorectal cancer.
7. Good for pregnancy:
Okro is good for pregnant women. This is due to the fact that it contains folate which helps lower the risk of a neural tube defect which affects the brain and spine of a developing foetus. Thus consuming okro regularly, can help pregnant women meet the daily recommendation of folate.