If you are looking for an unusual but very healthy ingredient to add to your salad, the okra plant makes an excellent choice. Okra's value is no new discovery. The plant originates in Ethiopia, and ancient civilizations used it, for example, the famous Egyptian Queen Cleopatra enjoyed eating it. Much more recently, okra seeds offered an acceptable substitute for scare coffee beans during the Second World War. In the following years, the average Western European or American had little if any knowledge of this plant and its uses. Today's growing interest in healthy eating and natural cures lies behind a rediscovery of okra's properties.
The amount of nutrients you find in a portion of okra makes it the kind of food you would want to include in your meal plans. For example, one cup contains 3.2 grams of fiber that is about an eighth of a person's daily needs. Sufficient fiber content is essential for the effective working of the digestive system. This same serving of okra also delivers 82 mg of the calcium the body needs for good bone and teeth health. In addition, you find it also contains 1.9 gram of protein and just 32 calories. These are just a few examples of its high nutritional value.
With many more people in the USA and other western countries falling into the borderline diabetes category, there is a lot of interest in foods that help keep us the right side of this border. Okra contains compounds that help to lower blood sugar levels and encourage the body to make more insulin. Studies also show that okra helps improve the body's sensitivity to insulin. For all of these reasons, it is also highly recommended to include okra in diabetic meal plans.
Okra powder, in particular, is capable of absorbing cholesterol. It helps to improve the ratio of HDL (good) to LDL (bad) cholesterol in the bloodstream. Studies reveal how okra is also very useful in lowering dangerously high triglyceride levels. The blockage of arteries that an accumulation of cholesterol causes is a major contributor to heart health problems. Those who regularly eat okra thus reduce the risks of such dangerous blockages as well as lowering the chances of becoming diabetic.
Modern western lifestyles where people travel everywhere by car, eat convenience meals and hold sedentary jobs seem to be factors behind rising complaints of fatigue. So many fail to eat the right foods and take the exercise their bodies need. Okra is one of the foods that help us to retain energy. Researchers have discovered how it encourages the storage of glycogen in the liver so the body can continue to draw energy from this reserve.
Increasing obesity levels are another issue that modern women, men, and children need to confront. There is no doubt about how poor diet and lack of exercise push these statistics up, but studies reveal that okra eaters are less likely to suffer from obesity. Its low-calorie content is only one of the reasons why it helps to keep weight down. Even more important is the way this food satisfies appetites. People who are satisfied with what they have eaten do not feel the need to stuff themselves with high-calorie junk foods.
Students of human anatomy appreciate the central role the liver plays in removing poisons from the body. Eating okra reduces the possibility of free radical compounds damaging liver functioning. These free radicals exist naturally in the body but other compounds, antioxidants, serve to defend the liver and other vital organs from these attacks. Since okra is rich in polyphenols and flavonoid antioxidants, and it might help to stabilize liver cells, it should reduce the dangers of liver damage from free radicals.
Some natural cure experts suspect that regular okra eaters are at a lower risk of developing Alzheimer's and other kinds of degenerative diseases that diminish mental abilities. They base this claim on the presence of high qualities of antioxidants in okra. Now, this is just a theory based on suppositions rather than firm scientific findings, but it seems worth investigating further because of the potential benefits it could bring to many suffering individuals and their families.
Asthma is a relatively mild respiratory condition in many cases, but if not properly taken care of the health consequences can be severe. Experience shows that okra benefits asthmatics but exactly why it helps is still unclear. Some connect this to the high dose of vitamin C that it supplies, but there is no scientific backing for this theory. In all events, even with our lack of knowledge about how it helps people living with asthma, it seems good sense for them to try it out and see what difference it makes.
With the body's immune systems providing its first defense against infection, it is a good idea to eat foods that enhance this immunity. The importance of okra in this context closely links to its high vitamin C content. Scientists have discovered that a cup of okra provides 23 mg of vitamin C that supplies well over a third of daily requirements. It is widely known that those who have sufficient vitamin C are better able to resist flues, colds and other infections.
Many take good eyesight for granted until problems arise. Often vision deteriorates with age and many other factors may be involved. The connection between eye health and diet is quite well known. Okra is one of the foods that can be very beneficial in this area. The antioxidants it contains help reduce the risks of cataracts and other vision impediments. In particular, it's beta-carotene. Xanthin and lutein compounds are very beneficial for eye health.
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