Okra is a favorite vegetable eaten in the South in the dish calls gumbo and is eaten frequently as a favorite vegetable. You either love okra or hate it. It can be tough, slimy or has an unusual tart taste. Perhaps that is the reason it is hidden inside this aromatic dish.
Okra’s reputation is about to change. In a study from Emory University in Atlanta, the researchers found that okra contains a powerful compound that shows promise for fighting cancer and heart disease. Okra has added benefits with a variety of healthful nutrients like vitamin C, calcium and potassium. And best of all it is very low in calories.
How It Protects
The key ingredient in gumbo contains a compound that researchers say shows promise for addressing cancer. This compound is known as glutathione. It attacks cancer in two ways. Firstly, as an antioxidant it impedes the effects of free radicals, the unstable oxygen that can damage healthy cells and cause them to become cancerous. Secondly, glutathione prevents other cancer-causing chemicals carcinogens from damaging DNA, the chemical blueprint that gives cells information on how to function. It does this by escorting chemicals away from cells into the urine that finally moves out of the body.
The researchers studied more than 1,800 people and found that those who had the highest intake of glutathione were 50 percent less likely to develop oral and throat cancers than those with low levels of the compound. Other foods that have glutathione like okra are watermelons, avocados and grapefruit. Okra isn’t the highest source of glutathione, but it is not the lowest. When measured it fell in the medium range.
Researchers aren’t sure how much glutathione we must take to stay healthy. But this they know, ” it is better to have more than less. If you keep your glutathione at a high level, you lower your risk of getting a serious illness,” Dr. Lang says.
An Important Multi-Nutrient Pod
Okra contains many additional nutrients. At the top of the list is vitamin C. A half – cup of cooked okra contains more than 13 milligrams, 22 percent of the Daily Value (DV).
As you know, Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant. It is shown to help fight cancer, prevent heart disease and even help the common cold.
Okra provides a good amount of magnesium too. A half-cup of cooked okra has about 46 milligrams, 11 percent of the DV. This mineral may help you avoid heart disease, fight chronic fatigue syndrome, lower blood pressure, keep diabetes at bay, and slow bone loss.
Another good benefit of eating okra is that it’s a high source of fiber. Whether frozen or cooked, a half-cup serving of okra has about 2 grams of fiber, 8 percent of the DV. That is the same amount as a half – cup or raw carrots or apples.
The two kinds of fiber in okra help in different ways. The soluble fiber lowers cholesterol and helps control symptoms of diabetes. In addition, it can help with weight control because it forms bulk in the stomach, making you feel full. The insoluble fiber (previously called roughage) is shown to help prevent colon cancer and digestive disorders such as constipation.
Tips on How you can Win with Okra
In my household we love okra. Here are tips to master its goodness and enjoy its goodness.
Cook it quickly. Steaming will prevent the juices from thickening and it reduces the amount of slime.
Don’t overcook okra. When it is overcooked the juices become glue-like. Therefore cook it just it enough until it is tender but a little on the al dente side. Remove from heat. Serve Immediately. (If you are going to use it in a recipe, at this stage, place in colander and rinse with cold water with a few ice cubes to cool it down.)
Cut it up. When making gumbo, soup or stew containing okra, cut the stems or slice the pod into pieces to thicken up the dish. To cut down on the thickening put the whole pod in during the last 10 minutes of cooking.
Buy it fresh. Old okra is tough and stringy, look for okra that has a slight sheen and test with your fingernails by pushing on the outside of the pod to see if it makes a dent on the outside layer. If you meet resistance in piercing the pod it may be too tough to eat.
When to buy: fresh okra is available in the south throughout the year. However, for the rest of the country the best time to buy it is from May to October.
You have before you the scientific, evidence based information on how eating okra can impact your health in a positive manner such as in helping to prevent cancer, heart disease, controlling your weight. It even helps to calm the common cold as well as the other added nutrients it possesses. The question to you is this, would you reconsider choosing okra as one of the vegetables to add to your list? Does this information help to change and clarify (into your mind) the importance of eating a wide variety of foods especially vegetables and fruits? While you are thinking about it, remember we become what we eat. So let us make our food choices count by eating a variety of wholesome, natural, nutrient dense foods to ward off diseases, stay fit and have good health to last a lifetime.
For recipe(s) on how to prepare okra, visit my website: http://www.hopenutriservices.com