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20 Reasons Why You Should Consume Okra

by Harvest Money Editor
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Have you come across a dark green-pod vegetable called okra as you do your shopping? Well, also known as lady finger because of its shape, health specialists say okra has tremendous benefits.

The vegetable is a tropical plant and is scientifically known as abelmoschus esculentus, explains Mark Ndaula, a botanist. Many people eat okra pods to boost appetite, he adds.

Dr. Gregory Byekwaso, a nutritionist, says, also locally known as gombo, bendi or gumbo, okra is low in calories.

This vegetable is good for the body, especially for people battling weight. It is also a good source of nutrients and minerals that the body needs for immunity.

For instance, it contains substantial amounts of vitamin B6 and C, fibre, calcium and folic acid.

Due its richness in folic acid, it is important that all pregnant mothers eat okra in their routine diet, he explains.
Folic acid aids cell production and division during the development of a foetus, Byekwaso emphasises.

It also helps in the formation of healthy red blood cells that aid the circulation of blood and oxygen for a mother and foetus. Premature birth risks are, therefore, reduced by about 50%, he adds.

The deficiency of folic acid in a pregnant woman can cause child defects such as neural tube defects (birth defects of the brain) and can spark off spinal cord defects such as spina bifida.

But with okra, such childbirth complications can be reduced by 80%, Byekwaso explains.
He says children too should eat okra because their bodies require folic acid to guard against anaemia.

However, Richard Rwabwogo, a nutritionist based in Kampala, says in order to benefit wholly, the vegetable should not be over cooked because this diminishes the mineral elements. Therefore, you can achieve this by steaming or boiling the vegetables for a few minutes.

Nearly half of okra nutrients is soluble fibre. Soluble fibre plays a significant role in lowering cholesterol, reducing risks of heart disease and stroke.
The other half is insoluble fibre which helps keep the intestinal tract healthy, thus decreasing the risk of some cancers, especially of the colon.

According to research, okra cleanses the liver, mainly due to its slimy substance that contains elements that bind bile acid and cholesterol.
More so, the fibre helps to avert diabetes and constipation.

Some of the insoluble fibre helps guard the intestinal tract from toxins, Rwabwogo adds.

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