Okra: A food that doubles as Medicine



The American Botanical Council, has made of compilation of contemporary research findings, revealing ways that Okra is effective in curing a number of different ailments Okra is a flowering plant, valued for its edible green seed pods. The geographical origin of okra is disputed, with supporters of West African, Ethiopian, and South Asian origins. The plant is cultivated in tropical, subtropical and warm temperate regions around the world.

Some of the other uses of okra as revealed in the report, include:

Inhibits the growth of breast cancer cells

Laboratory research suggests that okra and its extracts can be useful in the treatment of a variety of disease states. An in vitro study indicated that Abelmoschus esculentus lectin (AEL), a protein extracted from okra, binds carbohydrates on the surface of cancer cells, thus causing programmed cell death(apoptosis) and significantly and selectively inhibiting breast cancer cell proliferation.

Treats gastrointestinal disturbances.

Contemporary research suggests that okra’s effectiveness in the treatment of gastrointestinal complaints can be attributed to the presence of rhamnogalacturonan polysaccharides, which disrupt the adhesion of Helicobacter pylori bacteria to stomach tissue these bacteria are associated with stomach ulcers.

Prevents Cardiovascular disease.

An in vitro study published in 2007 by the USDA Agricultural Research Service Okra was found to be more effective at binding bile acids than any other vegetable evaluated in the study, and 34% as effective as cholestyramine.An animal study conducted in 2011 found that okra peel and seed powder had the ability to normalize blood levels of both lipids and sugars in diabetic rats. These results indicate that consumption of okra may help reduce hyperlipidemia and hyperglycemia in diabetics, thus helping to prevent cardiovascular disease and other comorbidities associated with diabetes. These effects could be related to okra’s ability to bind bile acids.

Acts as an antibiotic agent

An in vitro study in 2011 examined the effects of okra gum extract on both cell viability and bacterial growth. The results of this study demonstrate the potential use of okra extract as an antibacterial agent with possible applications in the food and pharmaceutical industry.

Okra has potential to protect damaged liver tissue

A study on rats explored the traditional uses of okra in liver disease. The results revealed okra extract a potentially important substance for protecting chemically-damaged liver tissue. Human clinical trials are needed to explore this potential therapeutic application.

It is worth noting that okra’s nutrients can be easily impacted by cooking and preparation methods.

Okra experiences significant mineral losses following boiling and baking, but sautéed Okra has been found to retain sufficient nutrients. However, research has found that this loss of nutrients may still be beneficial,“while the loss of mineral content may seem undesirable, the marked reduction of minerals from cooking could be beneficial for those with kidney disease. For example, potassium levels can be reduced by up to 60% by boiling okra and pouring off the water, making boiled okra safer than raw okra for a potassium-restricted diet,” reads the report