What is Okra Extract?
Okra is a vegetable many refer to as ladies’ fingers (x). It is rich in a wide range of nutrients, including vitamins, fiber and minerals (x). It is a popular ingredient in food thanks to its distinct viscous fluids that can make a great sauce.
Okra is a popular vegetable in the United States, Caribbean, South America, Middle East and Africa (x). It is quite valuable due to its high nutritional value (x). In addition, most of the plant, including fresh leaves, flowers, stems, seeds and buds, can be eaten. The vegetable has a mild taste and unique texture with edible seeds inside the pod (x).
The name ladies’ fingers stem from the vegetables’ characteristic finger shape. Okra is rich in vitamin K, fiber and folate (x). It promotes heart and bone health and is believed to minimize the risk of cancer (x).
How it Works
Okra achieves its health benefits by supporting multiple biological mechanisms, including the breakdown of glucose and fat (x). It also facilitates the absorption of glucose into muscle tissues(x). In addition, the vegetable helps to reduce inflammatory signals that promote the growth of cancer cells (x).
Okra promotes liver health by increasing levels of glutathione, catalase and dismutase in the body (x). It also minimizes the action of enzymes such as SGPT and bilirubin (x), which prevents liver damage. This vegetable even reduces the absorption of cholesterol in the gastrointestinal system (x).
Studies (x) indicate okra can block infectious pathogens like H. Pylori from sticking to stomach cells. In addition, the vegetable promotes skin health, which helps to minimize sun damage (x). It may eliminate the presence of harmful substances in nerves, including reactive oxygen and hydrogen peroxide (x).
Okra contains a whole host of nutrients (x) including:
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin K
- Vitamin B6
- Vitamin A
The individual need for these nutrients varies depending on age, sex and activity level.
Benefits of Okra
Minimizes the Risk of Kidney Diseases
Helps with Diabetes
Okra can reduce fasting blood sugar (x) as well as insulin in the bloodstream, which helps to minimize the symptoms of diabetes. In addition, extracts may help reduce liver carbohydrate stores and also reduces the risk of obesity (x).
Supports Ulcer Healing
Okra is rich in fibers that coat the GI tract and facilitate the healing of peptic ulcers (x). Adding it to your diet is an excellent way to lose weight and prevent future health problems.
Supports Liver Health
Okra extract helps to improve liver health, activity and appearance (x). In addition, the vegetable extract helps to normalize the levels of liver enzymes (x). It also helps to increase the levels of albumin, a blood protein, in the liver (x).
Regulates Cholesterol Levels
Okra minimizes the absorption of cholesterol in the GI tract, which helps to regulate cholesterol levels in the body (x). It reduces the levels of harmful cholesterol in the body and increases levels of good cholesterol (x). Okra extract may also reduce levels of total blood fat, which promotes cardiovascular health (x).
Boosts the Immune System
Okra is rich in fiber that increases the levels of good bacteria in the GI tract (x). Good bacteria in the intestines and stomach builds immunity because the bacteria protect the body from infections (x). It is loaded with vitamin C and antioxidants that protect the body from harmful free radicals (x). In addition, vitamin C plays a vital role in the production of white blood cells that form the primary defense system of the body (x).
Okra extract helps to promote endurance and athletic performance (x). It reduces the levels of chemical compounds, including lactic acid and urea nitrogen that may lower energy production and performance (x). The extract also protects liver cells and supports the storage of energy by body cells (x).
Research (x) indicates there could be a link between genetics and Alzheimer’s disease. Okra may increase the number of antioxidants in gene cells that are prone to Alzheimer’s disease (x). This suggests that the extract plays a significant role in improving memory (x).
Forms of Okra
Drinking okra water is a suitable way of getting the nutrients (x) in okra without having to eat the vegetables. However, it is essential to know that the water tastes slightly bitter.
Okra Peel and Powdered Seeds
Eating okra peels and powdered seeds is one of the most popular ways of using it for its medicinal value (x). Making the powdered seeds on your own requires time and labor. The alternative is to buy the powdered seeds online or from your local health food store.
Uses of Okra
Okra is a common feature in the diet of communities that live in tropical countries (x). One can eat it chopped, stewed, fried and sliced. It’s also possible to pickle and preserve its pods for consumption later on. Okra leaves are edible and can be used to make salads.
Boiling okra leads to the formation of a transparent mucilage (x) that can be used to moisturize hair. The paste promotes hair health and appearance.
Okra seeds (x) provide an excellent source of oil and proteins. Many communities throughout the world use the seeds as a source of oil (x) in small-scale production. The seeds provide an excellent source of quality proteins (x).
Boiled okra produces a viscous extract that can be used in modern medicine to bind tablets and provide a suspending agent for drugs (x). In addition, the extract is an excellent serum albumin extender (x). Research (x) indicates okra extract can be used as plasma replacement.
Okra Side Effects
Okra may interfere with metformin (x). Therefore, consult your physician if you are on metformin medication before supplementing with okra extract. In addition, it is rich in oxalates (x) that may bind kidney stones or gallstones and worsen the condition. Therefore, consume it in minimal quantities.
Excessive consumption of okra, including its products, may be harmful to some people.
Okra contains high levels of fructans (x), a carbohydrate associated with bloating, cramping and diarrhea. Eating it may worsen these conditions, especially for people with bowel problems (x). Individuals with bowel conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) (x) and other GI complications may experience abdominal discomfort when they eat okra foods and products. Foods rich in fructans usually worsen bowel complications (x).
Okra contains solanine (x), a chemical compound associated with arthritis, joint pains, and inflammation. Although small quantities of solanine are beneficial to human health, excessive consumption may worsen inflammation and joint problems (x).
Okra is rich in vitamin K, which plays an essential role in blood clotting (x). People who are blood-thinning medication should discuss okra supplementation with their physicians (x). Eating this vegetable may counter the action of blood thinners and cause blood clots to develop, which may worsen blood-clotting complications (x).
The Bottom Line
Okra is a highly nutritious vegetable rich in fiber, antioxidants, folate and vitamins C, K and A (x). It supports eye, skin, kidney and even cardiac health (x). It also promotes the absorption of food in the GI tract and plays an essential role in digestion (x). In addition, okra has anti-cancer properties and is an excellent food choice for pregnant women because of its high levels of folic acid (x).