Health Benefits of Okra

The slimy texture of okra makes it an infrequent food choice, even among vegetable lovers, but okra should at least be praised for its ability to fight heart disease, arthritis and osteoporosis.

 

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Source: http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8103/8629833959_90f4e62ef8_o.jpg

Boiled, sautéed, stewed or fried, okra is still versatile enough to make its way into numerous dishes in the Southern United States, Middle Eastern and Asian countries. Read on for some little nuggets on what makes okra so great.

Inside Okra

Okra contains lots of water, dietary fiber, calcium and protein, with barely one percent of fat. Other vitamins and nutrients include folate, potassium, magnesium, vitamin C, beta carotene and manganese.

What’s So Great About Okra?

Defends Against Heart Disease – Okra has several nutrient weapons in its arsenal that defend against heart disease – potassium, folate, magnesium and vitamin C. Potassium is known to lower blood pressure, because it balances the amount of sodium in the blood. Too much salt in the body also causes bloating, swelling, dehydration and kidney stones, so potassium-rich foods like okra work well as preventatives against these issues.

The high amount of folate in okra lowers homocysteine levels in the blood, thereby avoiding artery damage and narrowing that this renegade amino acid causes. Consequently, folate also keeps blood pressure down and allows for better blood circulation to and from the heart, by minimizing arterial blockages. Magnesium in okra lowers blood pressure and cholesterol and keeps the heart beating correctly. Finally, vitamin C in okra prevents hardening and clogging of the arteries, also known as atherosclerosis.

There’s lots of vitamin C in this slimy, little vegetable, which not only breaks down dangerous blood clots, but also keeps your immune system strong so that your body can stand up to any diseases that try to creep up. Your heart is protected on all sides.

Defends Against Osteoarthritis – Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common type of arthritis in which bones, joints and cartilage have worn away and create all kinds of sensations, like pain, crackling, and stiffness. Medical experts once believed that this condition was progressive and couldn’t be stopped once it occurred, but foods like okra that contain lots of vitamin C and manganese prove otherwise.

Vitamin C is a known bone strengthener, while manganese rebuilds and strengthens cartilage. When the area surrounding joints are reinforced by these two nutrients, there is less friction, pain and swelling and the symptoms of OA are reduced quite a bit.

Defends Against Osteoporosis – For stronger bones that are less prone to fractures, okra should be included often in your meals simply because it is packed with potassium, magnesium, beta carotene, calcium and vitamin C. These nutrients put a pause on bone loss and weakness and reinforce the current bone structure.

Enhances Blood Circulation – As mentioned, homocysteine in the blood narrows the arteries, making it harder for blood to be pumped through them. When blood can’t pass through, there is danger of blood clots that can lead to strokes or heart attacks. There is also danger of bursting blood vessels and hemorrhaging as a result of the buildup of blood pressure that cannot be properly released. So the folate in okra, in this case, is life saving.

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