The Okra Effect

Okra effect

Okra is a nutritional powerhouse, offering lots of vitamin C, riboflavin, folic acid, calcium and potassium. It also delivers protein, fiber and many important antioxidants. Its slimy goo, scientifically called mucilage, has long been used to soothe indigestion and improve gastrointestinal health. However, consuming raw okra pods can trigger gastrointestinal symptoms in people who are sensitive to salicylates or FODMAPs. Soaking or cooking okra helps mitigate these problems.

In addition to its mucilage content, okra contains polyphenol chemicals and flavonoids like quercetin. These phytonutrients help decrease oxidative stress and free radical damage. Okra also carries a variety of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin K, vitamin B6, thiamine, niacin, folate and magnesium. Its soluble fiber is known to lower cholesterol levels and promote digestive health.

Studies have shown that okra extract can reduce pain, thanks to its analgesic properties. A 2013 study found that mice who received powdered okra in their diets handled pain tests much better than mice receiving a placebo. Another study found that okra oil can relieve inflammation and swelling from insect bites.

Another potential benefit of okra is its anti-aging properties. It can help prevent the development of Alzheimer’s disease by reducing levels of a protein that causes plaque buildup in the brain. It may also increase the production of a protein that protects the brain from oxidative stress.

Okra is packed with antioxidants, which can help prevent heart disease and cancer. Its high folate content can decrease the risk of neural tube defects in unborn babies, while its vitamin C and phenol compounds can lower the risk of chronic diseases. Its soluble fiber can also help to regulate blood sugar.

There is some concern that okra can interfere with some medications, especially the diabetes drug metformin and the blood thinner warfarin, due to its high vitamin K content. It’s therefore a good idea to talk to your doctor before adding it to your diet.

Conventionally grown okra often comes with a side order of organophosphate pesticides, which have been linked to neurotoxicity in humans and animal testing has shown that they can harm the developing brain. However, growing okra organically can avoid these dangerous chemicals, so be sure to buy certified-organic okra pods.