Okra is one of those divisive foods that you either really love or just can’t stand. For fans of the green fruit (yep, it’s a fruit!), we can count on a lot of delicious health benefits while we chow down.
Although many are put off by the slimy insides of okra, it’s part of what makes them a great choice for heart health. A 2014 study showed that the substance can actually bind to cholesterol during the digestion process and help our bodies get rid of it, rather than have it linger around and cause problems.
Okra’s high fiber content can also help maintain optimal cholesterol levels, according to the American Heart Association. Another perk: The amount of fiber (about 3 grams per cup) and carbohydrates (about 7.5 grams per cup) balance out to make it a great option for anyone following a keto diet. A study from 2011 also showed a promising result in okra’s ability to regulate healthy blood sugar levels, but more research needs to be done.
Many of us are looking for ways to boost our immunity as we head into the colder months and continue to wait for the pandemic to calm down. You can do just that with okra thanks to its hefty amount of vitamin C, about 23 mg in one cup. It also acts as an antioxidant alongside vitamin A, which are both polyphenols. A 2018 study found that these types of antioxidants are especially great at warding off inflammation in our brains, which can help with memory and cognition as we age.
If you’ve sworn off okra after trying it once, we definitely recommend giving it another shot! There are so many ways to enjoy it that you might not have sampled yet. For example, we bet our recipe for African-style peanut gumbo will turn even the most skeptical okra-avoiders into fans. Or you can deep fry them until they’re nice and crispy, simply sauté or roast them, or grab a jar of zingy pickled okra from the store.
We’re sure the right okra is out there waiting for you — and, of course, all of these amazing health benefits!