Okra is known by many names such as “gumbo,” “bamiya,” “lady’s finger,” and botanically, Abelmoschus esculentus.
It is a perennial flowering plant and belongs to the Malvaceae (mallows) family that includes hollyhock, rose of Sharon, and hibiscus.
The immature pods are used for soups, canning, and stews or as a fried or boiled vegetable.
This hibiscus like plant grows up to 6 feet in height, and its flowers add ornamental value to backyard gardens.
Nearly half of it is soluble fiber is in the form of gums and pectins. Soluble fiber helps to lower serum cholesterol, reducing the risk of heart disease. The other half is insoluble fiber which helps to keep the intestinal tract healthy decreasing the risk of some forms of cancer, especially colorectal cancer. Nearly 10% of the recommended levels of vitamin B6 and folic acid are also present in a half cup of cooked okra.
(1/2 cup sliced, cooked okra)
Dietary Fiber 2 grams
Protein 1.52 grams
Carbohydrates 5.76 grams
Vitamin A 460 IU
Vitamin C 13.04 mg
Folic acid 36.5 micrograms
Calcium 50.4 mg
Iron 0.4 mg
Potassium 256.6 mg
Magnesium 46 mg
Okra is widely used as vegetables in tropical countries and is often used with fish in the Caribbean.
Chopped or sliced, they can be stewed or fried under low heat oil in order to soften their mucilaginous texture.
Okra can be mixed with other vegetables, rice, or meat.
It can be cooked and enjoyed in soup.
The pods can be pickled and preserved like in other vegetables.
Tender okra leaves may be cooked in a similar manner as the greens of beets or dandelions.
The leaves can also be used in salads.
In Middle Eastern countries, for example, Egypt, okra is used in lamb and beef stew.
Davy Desmond, Readers Bureau, Fellow
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