THE FOOD SERIES: Okra

Foods like this always amazes me. Something so interesting, unique and slightly odd but is super nutritious and delicious as well.

DESCRIPTION:

Okra is a green flowering plant, residing in the mallow family. We commonly refer to the fruit or pod when we say okra and it is a tapering, finger-shaped capsule that is fuzzy with light hairs on the outside and contains edible seeds on the inside of the pod. Okra has a mild but somewhat sweet, crunchy taste. Once cut or cooked, it reveals its viscous juice with a slimy, goo-like texture; a great thickener for soups and stews.

There are many types of okra, some common varieties include: Emerald, Clemson, Annie Oakley, Purple and Chinese.


PRODUCTION:

It is native to the tropics of the Eastern hemisphere, originating in Africa. It is now largely produced in the tropics and subtropics of the Western hemisphere.

In some countries the seeds are used as a substitute for coffee.


NUTRITIONAL PROFILE:

1 cup raw okra:

61.5 kcal
13.9 g Carbs
6.0 g Fiber
0.4 g Fat
3.6 g Protein
1334.3 IU Vitamin A
42.9 mg Vitamin C
58.3 μg Vitamin K
1.5 mg Manganese
106.2 mg Magnesium

One thing I do want to touch upon in terms of the nutritional profile is the amount of fiber found in okra. It is high in both soluble and insoluble fiber. As many of us know, fiber is extremely important in our health. It plays a major role in our body for moving out wastes and keeping our bowels in good health. It adds bulk into our diet, slows down digestion of foods and thus making our meals more filling. As a result it not only helps cut cravings but help promote better glycemic control and improve insulin sensitivity; meaning it is huge benefit for people with diabetes. Fiber also helps reduce cholesterol levels because of their ability to hinder fat absorption from the intestines, and thus beneficial for improving cardiovascular health.

There are so many other overall health benefits such as: boosting skin health, prevent certain cancers, strengthen bones, aids the immune system, lowers blood pressure, protects oral health, help in weight management and much more. Have I sold you on okra yet? 😉


WAYS TO ENJOY

I personally love to eat these raw, such as adding them to my salads. I love my veggies and dip as well, and this is also such a good addition to the usual carrots, bell peppers, and cucumbers. So try dipping okra in some hummus or guacamole next time. For those who may be slightly turned off by the goo and slimy consistency when cooked, I recommend trying okra raw and in its natural state!

Beyond eating them raw, here are some delicious cooked recipes to try:


FUN FACTS

  • Okra may also be referred to as gumbo or ladies’ fingers.
  • Okra and cotton are botanically related.
  • It is also related to hibiscus and hollyhock.
  • Okra is made up of 90% water, 2% protein, 7% carbohydrates and little fat.


ADDITIONAL RESOURCES / REFERENCES 

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