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What is Okra ?

Okra (in english ‘ladies’ fingers’) or the scientific name Okro Abelmoschus, is a flowering plant that’s part of the mallow family. A staple to many tropical and subtropical regions in the world. This warm weather vegetable that’s easy to cook and add into the diet is also chock full of antioxidants, fiber, vitamins, and minerals, making it a very good source of nutrients for the body. But why exactly do we need to add this into our diet?


Okra Origins

The okra plant is actually considered a fruit but is eaten and cooked as a vegetable. It’s said to have come from Ethiopia, cultivated by Egyptians and spread though the Middle East and North Africa. Hailing from Africa, the name came from the West African word ‘nkruma’, brought to the United States 3 centuries ago and renamed into ‘Okra’ in the late 18th century. Then spread world wide. The Okra family includes cotton and hibiscus plants. These thrive in warmer climates, hence being a staple to many tropical and subtropical countries.

A short Okra description is that It’s a small green or red fruit with a spear or pointed finger-like shape, covered in a peach like fuzz all around, with a mild grassy taste. Once cooked, it turns to a deeper flavor that emphasizes more on texture being very tender and creamy or crispy but still juicy. Every Part of the okra can be used, from the seeds, stem, leaves, pods, buds, and flowers. A food source that has been cultivated for hundreds of years, from using okra water as traditional medicine for diabetes, seed pods were cooked and eaten, while the seeds were toasted, grounded and used as a coffee substitute by some, you can even find some people using it as so today, the seeds are turned into oil, okra soup, okra flowers are fried or sauteed like spinach, turned into a side dish, pickled, with more modern recipes of fried or roasted okra using the oven or air fryer. There are a variety of methods to enjoy these funny looking green fingers.


Okra Benefits

An abundant vegetable that can be eaten as a whole by steaming, frying, sauteing and’s packed full of nutrients that make your gut happy. There are a number of okra benefits for men and women, like the ones below:

  • Keeps the digestive system functioning to its utmost best. It’s not only rich in fiber, but the slippery texture from okra helps coat the stomach lining making it stronger.
  • Helps against problems like constipation, IBS, and many more stomach problems.
  • Helps you lose weight by keeping you full for longer. It’s also a low calorie food, and diuretic which helps you shed excess water weight (debloating).
  • Because it helps with the gut, it actually prevents diabetes, kidney disease, and stabilizes blood sugar.
  • A rich source of vitamin A, one serving of this is actually all the vitamin A you need for the day. Why do we need this? Vitamin A is needed by the body for eye health and immunity.
  • It contains calcium and iron for bone health.
  • Great for immunity, with a healthy functioning gut and being high in antioxidants works wonders on the body.
  • One of the benefits of okra to ladies is that it supports fertility as a preconception diet, and promotes a healthy pregnancy.

*Though one should note that Okra side effects, or consuming too much or daily might affect some people with gastrointestinal problems like gas, cramping, bloating, diarrhea, and kidney stones.


The Abundance of Ladies’ Fingers in the Philippines

A popular vegetable-fruit that’s very profitable, while not as mainstream as some fruits and vegetables. As of 2021 the Philippines has started exporting okra to the Korean market, with Japan being one of the usual exports this fruit is brought to,.

In 2022, there was even a surplus of okra in the market that many took an opportunity to produce something with this easygoing ‘fruit’. While loved or hated for its slimy texture, it goes to show how innovative you can get with it, from creating wonderful dishes to toothpaste, paper, or to feel livestock. But if you are trying to get into this interesting ingredient, here are some Okra recipes you should try out!

  • Pinakbet, a popular vegetable dish that’s not only colorful, but is full of flavor and nutrients, it’ll be hard not to give it a chance.
  • Crispy Okra, an easy to do snack made with okra, battered and fried. Paired with some sauces on the side. A party dish for health conscious guests.
  • Ginisang Gulay, a simple pork belly based dish made with a number of green veggies, and a sauce base of shrimp paste, tomatoes, and many more seasonings. Great for veggie hating kids.
  • Pork Sinigang with Gabi, the popular FIlipino sour soup sinigang with a mix of pork and gabi and many more veggies to complete the meal. An absolute delight for the senses.
  • Dinengdeng with fried tilapia, made by simmering fried tilapia and vegetables in a sweet and savory sauce.

Great for those who want to integrate them in your diet. Especially with the boom of increasingly health conscious people and the desire for more sickness preventing aids to the body. Okra which can sustain and help the body in so many ways is one of the best choices to add into your meals. Just make sure not to over eat as with many other great things, everything has to be in moderation.

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