Okra is one of those meals that is quite easy to prepare and does not require a lot of efforts. So, knowing that okra has benefits is an added incentive to prepare it often.
Okra Has Benefits That Help You Maintain A Healthy Lifestyle
Here are some benefits of okra:
Okro is so cheap that you can prepare a meal for two with 50 Naira okra. One of the reasons people don’t eat healthily is because they believe it is expensive. Yes, healthy food can be expensive but it also depends on what you are looking out for. In Nigeria and Africa at large, we still grow a lot of our local food. Although the market is filled with processed foods, leading a healthy lifestyle will involve going back to our homegrown foods like okra.
It contains healthy nutrients
Okra contains so many healthy nutrients. It is also very low in carbs and contains fibre, which means that it helps you feel full and avoid overeating. It also contains protein which is very rare for vegetables. In fact, one cup of okra (100 grams) contains the following
Carbs: 7 grams
Protein: 2 grams
Fat: 0 grams
Fibre: 3 grams
Magnesium: 14% of the Daily Value (DV)
Folate: 15% of the DV
Vitamin A: 14% of the DV
It contains Vitamin C: 26% of the DV
Vitamin K: 26% of the DV
Vitamin B6: 14% of the DV
It is low in cholesterol
Heart disease is caused by high cholesterol levels, but Okra has a cool way of keeping your heart healthy. Okra contains mucilage, a thick gel-like substance that binds to cholesterol during digestion. As a result, it is excreted when you stool instead of being absorbed into your body. Also, this lowers your blood cholesterol levels.
It is good for pregnant women
Okra also contains Folate (vitamin B9) which is important in reducing the risk of neural tube defects for the fetus. A neural defect could affect the brain and spine of a developing fetus . However, Okra provides 15% of your daily needs for this nutrient.
It has anti-cancer properties
Really, why isn’t there more of this in your meals? Okra contains Lectin, which is a type of protein that may stall the growth of cancer cells. Two research studies on mice show that it killed cancer cells in mice and also prevented the growth of cancer cells by 63%. However, more research needs to be done on humans to establish this.
3 Healthy Recipes For Okra
Another benefit of okra is how versatile it is, which makes it easy to combine in creative ways. Here are 3 recipes of okra to add to your meal plan:
Plain Boiled Okra
Image: Dobby’s Signature
1 cup of okra
Salt to taste
Maggi or your homemade stock cube
Chop your okra or pulse it in a blender
Pour into a pot, add water, Maggi, and leave to boil
That’s all! You can add stew to this and eat with any swallow of your choice. Also, for extra oomph, add smoked fish.
Okra and Uziza
Image: Radiant blog
5 cups of Okra
3 cooking spoons of Palm oil
Fish or Any Protein of your choice
Ogiri (locust beans)
Uziza and Ugu (vegetable)
Chop your okra or pulse in a blender
Boil your stockfish, fresh fish or beef with water. Add your stock cube for added flavour. When this is done, pour out into a bowl and set aside.
Add palm oil, stir your onions until it’s translucent, add your iru, and then the chopped okra.
The okra should start to draw at this point, start adding the broth and meat you set aside in step two. If the water isn’t enough, add some more. Be careful, so it isn’t too watery.
At this point, you should add the pepper.
Add your Uziza leaves and vegetable. Boil for 5 more minutes and you are done.
Uziza leaves are quite spicy, and it also adds to the flavour of okra soup. You can also reduce the amount of oil in this soup to make it healthier.
This seafood okra recipe is culled from Nigerian Lazy Chef
1lb fish (cut into chunks)
1 dry fish(soaked and washed)
2½cups chopped okra
a bunch of Efo tete or callaloo(wash and chop) you could use spinach, kale or ugu
1 bell pepper
4 habanero peppers or ata-rodo
2 large bell peppers
2 tbsps. crayfish
1 tbsp dry pepper or chilli flakes
½ inch ginger(optional)
Salt to taste
1. pound or blend a half cup of the okra and set aside
2. Season the crabs, fish and shrimp with salt and the dry pepper; then set aside.
3. In a blender, roughly blend the bell peppers along with the hot peppers and set aside
4. Place all the seafood into a soup pot and pour in some water to the level the seafood. Season with a little salt and let it cook for about 5 minutes or until the seafood is cooked and the Shrimp/prawns have turned pink.
5. Then, gently remove the seafood from the stock and set aside. You can also pour out some of the stock if it is too much. Then, pour the pepper mix into the pot with the stock and stir.
6. Bring to a boil and cook for about 3-5 minutes; then add the okra, crayfish and the dry fish
7. Reduce the heat and cook for only a few minutes as you do not want the okra to lose its colour and crunch.
8. After that, stir in the seafood (don’t worry about the fish breaking apart) and the tete leaves.
9. Season to taste and set aside. The steam in the soup will cook the vegetables. Enjoy with any swallow or even roasted plantains.
The recipes above are just some of the ways you can cook okra. Okra has benefits that are not just healthy but it is also finger-licking delicious.
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