The botanical name of okra is Hibiscus Esculentus. It belongs to the family of hollyhock, rose of Sharon and as the name suggests hibiscus. The earliest record of okra being cultivated and used was in Egypt. Its use became so popular here that Cleopatra’s beauty is attributed to it. In China too, it is recorded that Yang Guifei was beautiful as her daily diet regimen included a generous portion of okra. Even till today, in a rural area in Kami (Japan) which is the world’s largest producer of okra, the young and old all look very healthy. They attribute their good health and looks to ‘okra’. Its cultivation spread during the slave trade. The okra seeds were used instead of coffee beans when coffee was in shortage during World War II. This popularity of okra came to be known as ‘okra fever’.
Okra is mainly found in three varieties – tall green, dwarf green, and ladyfinger. In India it is known as ladyfinger, bhindi, vendakai etc.
Okra contains vitamins A vitamin C, iron, calcium, starch, fat, ash, thiamine, riboflavin, potassium, magnesium, and carbohydrates.
Consumption of okra helps the body in numerous ways-
- Soothes the irritated membranes of the intestinal tract.
- Okra has an alkaline reaction and so helps in curbing acidity.
- Helps to replace sodium lost during extreme dehydration and is therefore good for summer heat treatment.
- Stabilizes the blood sugar and hence protects the body from diabetes.
- Binds cholesterol and bile acid carrying toxins by the filtering liver.
- Lubricates the large intestines due to its bulk laxative qualities and is therefore good for constipation
- Makes easy passage for the waste from the body and so helps in treating irritable bowel syndrome.
- The fibre in it is excellent for feeding the good bacteria (probiotics)…
- Hydrates and strengthens those feeling weak, exhausted, and suffering from depression.
- The mucilage in it is used for healing ulcers and to keep joints limber.
- Treats lung inflammation and sore throat. It is good for asthma. The vitamin C acts as an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. This curtails the asthmatic symptoms.
- It protects the body from atherosclerosis by supporting the structure of the capillaries.
- Lowers the chances of cataract.
- Maintains smooth, beautiful skin and prevents the formation of pimples.
Recent research has proved okra useful in blood plasma replacement, and protection against trans fats.
The cut okra releases sticky substance with thickening properties which is useful in soups and stews.
So hurry and add the secret of Cleopatra’s beauty to your diet.