“Humans live on one-quarter of what they eat; on the other three-quarters lives their doctor.” – Egyptian pyramid inscription, 3800 B.C.
The Many Health Benefits of Okra
- A study published in the Saudi Pharmaceutical Journal outlined okra’s ability to protect against liver disease. Because of its strong antioxidant activities, okra was found to protect against chemically induced liver damage. The study also found okra to have strong antioxidant and hepaprotective properties, comparable to milk thistle or silymarin.
- According to a study published in 2005 in the Jilin Medical Journal, okra showed positive effects on nephropathy, or kidney disease. For the study, participants were put into two different groups — one was treated with okra, and the other was treated with traditional medical therapy. The study lasted 6 months, and while there were no changes for the group who used traditional therapy, those who took their treatment with the okra saw a reduction in uric acid and urine protein.
- Okra has also demonstrated its ability to be a cancer fighter, having shown action against breast cancer cells, but only in preliminary lab studies. Researchers have discovered that a newly discovered lectin (a type of protein that can bind to cell membranes) in okra, Abelmoschus esculentus (AEL), actually induces cell death in human breast cancer cells, in vitro – 72 percent to be exact.
- A study published in the Journal of Pharmacy & Bioallied Sciences found that okra extracts could protect against diabetes. When rats with diabetes were given okra, they saw a decrease in their blood sugar levels and a normalization of their lipid profile levels. Multiple in vitro and in vivo studies have found okra to be a major blood glucose-lowering food — it contains large amounts of soluble dietary fibre — which is why it has been used traditionally as an alternative treatment for diabetes.
- Research has also shown okra to possess the ability to fight depression. Although some fruits and vegetables have been shown to have various effects on mood, and the ability to elevate one’s mood (favonoids and quercertin), Okra had not made the list until recently, when researchers from Mazandaran University of Medical Science decided to examine its effect on mood. Their results showed that okra seed extracts acted as as strong agent for elevating mood, in some cases performing just as well as common antidepressants. Apparently, the positive mood effect of okra can be attributed to its high total phenol and flavonoid content.
“Let food by thy medicine, and medicine be thy food.” – Hippocrates