Okra

Okra

Okra is also known as the “Lady’s Fingers” or “Gumbo”, the seed pod of a tropical leafy flowering plant that is native to Ethiopia. It has been cultivated by Ancient Egyptians since 1200 BC; then, it was introduced to North America and Europe in the 17th century. Its skin can be smooth or ribbed, usually in medium or dark green; and its seeds are clustered in the core of the pod. When okra is cooked, gelatinous fluid will be exuded from the skin and surround the seeds in the seed pod, which makes it soft and slimy. This viscous fluid gives okra its most defining culinary characteristics, as an ingredient that can be added to thicken soups, curries and stew. The flavour of an okra resemblance to a cross of eggplant and asparagus, and it is a popular cooking ingredient in Middle East, Caribbean, and South America. It can be used in soup, curries, stew, salad, deep fry and pickled dishes. Okra is at its peak season in the summer months. The seed pod is picked a few days after the plant flowers, while it is unripe, tender and usually within 3 inches long; because mature okra is tough and it is not recommended for certain recipes.

Nutritional Facts

Okra is low in calories and sodium, and it contains no fat or cholesterol. It contains soluble and insoluble fiber, which can help in maintaining the health of the heart and digestive system. Okra also has a high level of calcium, potassium, phosphate, vitamin B-6, folate and lutein, which can help to maintain a healthy vision and blood pressure level.

Reference

Toffelmire, A. (n.d.) Healthy Foods: Okra. Retrieved from http://chealth.canoe.ca/channel_section_details.asp?text_id=5082&channel_id=44&relation_id=48476

Discovery Health. (2012) Okra. Retrieved from http://health.discovery.com/convergence/truth/foodarticles/okra.html