The Incredible Health Benefits of Okra

By , David F., SparkPeople Contributor
Fried okra is a delicious southern staple that pairs well with other hearty dishes. Unfortunately, eating it fried undoes many of the natural health benefits of this unique vegetable.

Not only is okra extremely tasty in its own right, but it also provides a wide range of outstanding health benefits when it is not fried. From preventing diabetes to promoting healthy pregnancies, this vegetable is a must-try dietary staple for enhancing overall health and wellness.

Okra and Diabetes

Foods that are high in fiber have been shown to prevent diabetes since fiber can help normalize the body's blood sugar. Okra is also a low glycemic index food, with an index of about 20, making it suitable as part of a diet for diabetes treatment and prevention. 

Similarly, okra may even reduce kidney damage. Since almost half of all kidney disease cases are caused by diabetes, the fact that okra can help prevent diabetes means that it can also serve as a preventative food against kidney disease. One study published in the October 2005 Jilin Medical Journal found that daily consumption of okra reduced clinical signs of kidney damage when compared to people who ate a regular diabetic diet.

Okra and Colon Health

Okra's high dietary fiber content also ensures optimal colon health and digestive health. Fiber is essential for cleaning out the gastrointestinal system, and sufficient fiber intake helps the colon work with enhanced efficiency.

In addition, okra is also packed with vitamin A, and this essential vitamin helps to ensure that the digestive tract is functioning optimally, as well.

Okra and Healthy Pregnancy

During pregnancy, it is extremely important to get adequate amounts of folate. This B vitamin is ultimately responsible for creating and maintaining new cells in the body, which results in the prevention of certain birth defects. Okra is rich in folate, helping to ensure that the fetus can grow optimally during pregnancy.

Additionally, okra also contains high quantities of vitamin C, which has also been shown to be important for the healthy development of fetuses. 

Okra and Asthma

Some studies have shown that vitamin C-rich foods may reduce wheezing symptoms in children suffering from asthma. When eaten regularly, okra may reduce asthma-induced wheezing due to its high quantities of vitamin C.

Okra and Healthy Skin

Okra doesn't just improve your health and quality of life--it's also fantastic for your skin. As mentioned, okra is full of vitamin C, a nutrient that helps keep skin looking healthy and youthful. Vitamin C will help regrow body tissue, which means okra can also help reinvigorate damaged skin.

Okra and Antioxidant Benefits

Okra is also high in antioxidants, which are helpful for preventing heart disease, cancer and premature aging. 

In sum, okra is an incredible health food that should be a regular staple in your diet. Just don't dip it in the deep fryer! 

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