What are the good gut benefits of okra?
Okra is a flowering plant known for its edible seed pods. Although it is classified as a fruit, many people mistakenly assume it is a vegetable. It is also known as the lady’s finger due to its long slender shape and can come in two colors, red and green; which both have the slimy mouthfeel that makes this fruit so unique. Okra is very popularly used in dishes around the southern United States, Caribbean, parts of Africa, the middle east, and South America. Okra is low in calories but packed full of #goodgut nutrients.
Okra is an excellent source of fiber as 1 cup contains 4 grams. Okra's insoluble fiber helps keep your digestive system in great shape and lubricates the large intestine. The fiber in okra also feeds the good bacteria in your gut, which promotes a healthy intestinal tract. Ultimately, this may help to reduce cramping, bloating and other unpleasant stomach problems. It is also rich in folate with high amounts of Vitamin C and K. Vitamin C is a water-soluble nutrient that contributes to your overall immune function, while vitamin K1 is a fat-soluble vitamin that’s known for its role in blood clotting. Additionally, okra is low in calories and carbs and contains some plant protein. Many fruits and vegetables lack protein so okra is a great plant based protein option as one cup contains 2 grams.
In addition, okra's benefits include preventing gut microbiota imbalance. A study demonstrated how the saliva and okra are related to the application of digestive enzymes, which is promoted for use in functional foods, health care, and medicines. The indigestible polysaccharides of okra have potential dietary compounds that enhance the regulation of gut microbiota. A healthy gut microbiota enhances nutrient absorption and helps fight off potential pathogens. Okra may also help enhance skin appearance due to high levels of vitamin C and collagen, and may help the skin look healthier by minimizing dark spots. Consider incorporating Okra into your diet by trying this #goodgut recipe!
Ways to eat it
Okra is best enjoyed cooked, try it roasted, sauteed, air-fried or in soups/stews!
Recipe: Okra Stew
Ingredients (Makes 4 Servings):
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic
16 oz okra, fresh or frozen
2 bay leaves, fresh or dried
1 tsp ground cumin
1/3 tsp ground saffron
1 liter vegetable stock (add more if needed)
1 jar tomatoes, diced
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp salt
Wash okra and cut tips off.
Heat some vegetable stock in a large pot, then sauté diced onion with half of crushed garlic until it is soft and translucent.
Add okra to the pot, and sauté for a few minutes. Add remaining crushed garlic to pot and cook until fragrant. Add bay leaves, ground cumin, saffron and vegetable stock to cover the okra. Continue to cook for about 20 minutes until okra is tender.
Add diced tomatoes and cook for 15 more minutes. In the last 5 minutes of cooking, add salt.
Serve warm over rice of choice.
Note: Add cooked lentils for protein.
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Wu, D., Nie, X., Gan, R., Guo, H., Fu, Y., & Yuan, Q. et al. (2021). In vitro digestion and fecal
fermentation behaviors of a pectic polysaccharide from okra (Abelmoschus esculentus) and its impacts on human gut microbiota. Food Hydrocolloids, 114, 106577. doi: 10.1016/j.foodhyd.2020.106577
Yuan, Q. et al. (2020). Effects of simulated silva-gastrointestinal digestion on the
physicochemical properties of okra polysaccharides. Carbohydrate Polymers, 238, 116183
Zhang, J., Zhao, Y., Ren, D., & Yang, X. (2020). Effect of okra fruit powder supplementation on
metabolic syndrome and gut microbiota diversity in high fat diet-induced obese mice. Food Research International, 130, 108929. doi: 10.1016/j.foodres.2019.108929