What is okra?
Okra is known by various names viz. gumbo, lady finger and Bhindi. Okra or lady finger is loaded with many important minerals, vitamins and nutrients. It contains potassium, vitamin B, vitamin C, folic acid, calcium, low in calories, besides packed with fiber and antioxidants. It comes under essential crops in many countries of the world because of its nutritional value. The leaves, buds, flowers, pods, stems and seeds of this warm season vegetable are used.
Different names of okra
- English: Lady’s finger
- Hindi: Bhindi
- Gumbo: In United States
- Guino-gombo: In Spain
- Guibeiro: In Portugal
Scientific classification of okra
- Kingdom: Plantae
- Class: Angiosperm
- Order: Malvales
- Family: Malvaceae
- Genus: Abelmoschus
- Species: A. esculentus
Okra varieties and types
The different varieties of okra are:
- Red burgundy
- Louisiana green velvet
- Clemson spineless
- Dwarf green long pod
- Hastings improved perkins
- Annie oakley
- UGA Red
- Chinese okra
- Purple okra
What is the nutritional value of okra?
As per U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), about 100 gram of okra contain the following nutrients. It contain energy (33 cal), protein (1.9g), fat (0.2g), carbohydrate (7.5g), fiber (3.2g), sugar (1.5g), vitamin K (31.3 mg), potassium (299mg), sodium (7mg), vitamin C (23mg), thiamine (0.2mg), magnesium (57mg), calcium (82mg), vitamin B6 (0.215 mg), folate(60mcg) and vitamin A (36mcg). Besides this, it also contains iron, niacin, phosphorous, and copper. Okra is also rich in antioxidants with bio-chemical compounds like phenolic and flavonoids, which are associated with anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory properties.
What are the benefits of okra?
- Loaded with fiber: Okra is known for adequate amount of fiber. The eight medium size okra contains about 3 grams of fiber. Because of high amount of fiber, it is beneficial in case of digestion, and reduces hunger craving.
- Weight loss: The high level of fiber in the lady finger helps to cut hunger cravings and gives the feeling of full stomach. Thus, the regular eating of okra ensure shedding of extra fat from the body. Therefore, it is good for those who want to lose fat naturally.
- Stress buster: A study has been conducted in mice wherein it has been that the okra seeds have antioxidants, which have anti-stress features. Since, it helps reduce stress according acts on lowering of blood sugar as stress spikes sugar level in blood.
- Anti-fatigue: The use of Bhindi helps to reduce fatigue intensity in the body. The combination of lady finger in your diet including right amount of exercise ensures to work for a longer period of time and also keep you active.
- Pregnancy and breastfeeding: Folate is an important nutrient for pregnant and breastfeeding mother. Lack of folate leads to pregnancy loss, child health problems and condition like spina bifida. Doctor also suggests adequate amount of folate during pregnancy where lady finger can play a vital role.
- Osteoporosis: Okra contains adequate amount of vitamin K, which is good for the health of bone, especially in strengthening and preventing fractures.
- Gastrointestinal health: Okra is packed with dietary fiber, which is good for the smooth functioning of the digestive system. The eating of okra also helps to fight against inflammation and irritation because of anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties.
- Great for skin: The right amount of vitamin C present in okra helps to rejuvenation of skin cells and collagen. Thus, it is good in keeping your skin younger.
- Shining hair: Applied the mix of boiled okra and lemon juice after it gets cooled on the hair. Left it for few minutes followed by washing it through shampoo. The regular use of it for a fortnight helps to give shining hair.
- Diuretic: The consumption of okra helps to flux out toxins from the body. It also prevents water retention in the body.
Tips for cooking: How to cook okra?
It is very easy to cook okra. Before cooking, buying of okra is an important aspect. Always purchase soft and green one from the market. If its tip breaks easily, it means the piece is soft and good for cooking. It should be washed before cutting. It may be made gravy or fried one. If you want the fried one, simple cut it into two or four parts vertically. Add oil, green chilly, salt and onion simultaneously and started coking it in a low flame. It is better to warm the oil first. The form of cooking is gravy one. For this, first cut onion and chilly into pieces. Add oil into the pan and put spices as required into it. Make it simple fry for a while then put the cutting okra as mentioned above. After some time, add water and leave it for 15-20 minutes till they become soft and the gravy seems thicker.
Since, it is an important vegetable and used in making of multiple cuisines. The various recipes of it are:
- Easy roasted okra
- Roasted corn and okra
- Gravy okra
- Okra and with non-veg., especially chicken and mutton.
- Sweet potato gumbo with cornbread muffins.
Okra side effects
The various risks and precautions of eating lady finger are:
- Okra contains fructans, which can cause gas, diarrhea and bloating.
- Lady finger contains high amount of oxalate, which is responsible for kidney stone.
- Bhindi has a bio-substance called solanine, which may cause inflammation including pain and arthritis.
- It contains good amount of vitamin K, plays an important role in blood clotting. Thus, it may counteract who takes blood thinning medicine like warfarin, coumadin, etc.
- A study confirms that it reduces sexual functions in male by reducing testide weight and function. It also reduces sperm count.
- Those men need child should consult physician if they are using okra regularly
- It causes allergy during harvesting.