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Monday, 2 March 2015

Why Okro is good for you

Okro is a very popular vegetable consumed in Nigeria. Okro or (Okra) as it is sometimes called especially in the western climes, and also lady’s fingers, comes in beaked green pods of the Okro plant; it is a coarse annual of Old World tropics widely cultivated in southern United States and West Indies for its long mucilaginous green pods used as basis for soups and stews; sometimes it has been placed in the genus Hibiscus.  In Nigeria Okro, mainly so called by the Igbo, is also widely cultivated, and indeed throughout the West African sub-region and mainly used as a major ingredient for draw soups. It is applied to function both as vegetable and a thickening agent in soups and sometimes stews. 

Okro plant

At this point I will let you into some of the nutritional facts, and health benefits inherent in consuming this delicious vegetable. Apart from making a mouth watering palatable and aromatic broth in soups and stews, okro has been found to contain a rich concentration of phytochemicals, minerals and important vitamins thereby lending itself to so much goodies that our health require.

Good for bones and teeth

Okro is very healthy and nourishing because it is rich in the very essential mineral –Calcium. This is a very important food nutrient that is required for the building and sustenance of strong bones and teeth. At the same time, calcium is important in nerve signaling and muscle contractions.

Good for healthy heart

Because of the crucial role of calcium, we can never emphasise enough the benefits of this mineral in your system which is why you need to consume more of okro because the deficiency of this food element could lead to numerous health complications. Health experts say that calcium deficiency can manifest with the following signs: numbness of the fingers and toes, loss of appetite, muscle cramps, convulsion, arrhythmia which is an abnormal rate of muscle contractions in the heart, and tiredness. But here is a word of warning too: an excess of calcium intake, especially by means of supplements, can also lead to kidney stone formation and an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases like stroke and heart attack, etc. Need I emphasise again that you are better off getting your daily dose of minerals and vitamins from your foods if you can help it.

Good for dealing with constipation

Apart from calcium, there are still other equally vital food nutrients such as manganese, iron and magnesium, etc that are readily sourced from your delicious slippery vegetable. The okro pods are rich in mucilage substances that help your peristaltic movement; it is equipped with plenty of soluble natural dietary fibres, and by moving through the intestinal tract, it lubricates the large intestine. This means that consuming okro adds bulk to your stool thereby enabling good bowel movement and therefore able to prevent and treat constipation. Its dietary fibres easily absorb water and add a laxative effect to your bowel movement.

Okro vegetable

Good for conception

Okro being rich in folates – a B vitamin that is essential for cell growth and reproduction, is highly essential for couples seeking to have children. Therefore this vegetable especially in its fresh and tender stage when eaten a lot is able to boost both the sexuality and fertility of the man and woman, as well as attaining healthy pregnancy. Thus the active ingredients in okro prepare your body just before conception and are able to equip your system for healthy child bearing. In addition, the presence of folates in your foods helps to reduce the possibility of any form of neural tube defects in the born child.

By Morgan Nwanguma

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