Okra is am African Vegetable that has become beloved throughout the world for it’s unique flavor and texture, as well as the health benefits that it provides. The plant is a hardy annual that grows easily, allowing beginner gardeners to plant and harvest its pods. There are many varieties and the pods differ in shape and color. Young, tender pods are used in a range of dishes, from soups to stir fries.
Okra is highly nutritious as you can see in the chart below. This chart was found on a dietary information site and the information is accurate when checked against other sources.
Effects On Immunity
Interestingly, it is found that the active nutrition was mostly found in the okra skin, while the antioxidant contents was found mostly in the seeds. [https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4632455/
Okra provides a wide range of benefits to your immune system, as you can see. Manganese is the essential mineral it is most rich in. This mineral is needed for production and activity of interferons, the proteins that signal your Innate immune system to attack a virus. 1 It also provides you with a good amount of Magnesium and Zinc, two other minerals that enhance the activity of Macrophage and Natural Killer Cells.
Okra is very beneficial for your Gut Microbiome as well. This is because the fiber in the pods is a favorite of beneficial bacteria, as observed in experiments and studies. Okra is about 68% soluble fiber, which is a good prebiotic (bacteria food). This meams that the probiotic (bacteria-rich) food you eat, like yoghurt, kefir, kimchi etc, will be especially effective. The health of your gut bacteria directly influences the ability of your immune system to function.
Okra contains some Vitamin C, an important nutrient and antioxidant that plays many important roles in the immune system. One of its values is that it helps in the supports the production of Glutathione.
It is not shown in the chart above, but Okra is quite rich in Glutathione, providing 12mg per 100g. It also provides some cysteine, which your body uses to produce it’s own Glutathione. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/21582175_Glutathione_in_Foods_Listed_in_the_National_Cancer_Institute’s_Health_Habits_and_History_Food_Frequency_Questionnaire
COVID Resistance:Minerals that strengthen your innate immune system are important when encountering the virus. COVID viral cells do their best to avoid innate immune cells so strengthening them gives the adaptive immune cells more time to prepare. Gut Microbiome health is an indicator of how severe a COVID infection can be.
Vitamin C is essential for adaptive immunity which will protect you from variants of the virus. Recent research has shown that Antioxidants, especially Glutathione are key in reducing oxidative stress and inflammation which lead to progression to severe COVID symptoms.
Okra is a heat loving plant. Grow it in well drained soil towards the end of rainy season and it will benefit from the hot months leading towards summer. Some okra plants can be grown in pots on a balcony, however others are giant plants, reaching up to 7 feet in height!
Due to poor agricultural practices, many conventional Okra plants are sprayed with pesticides to kill the many insects that enjoy to eat the pods and leaves. It is better to choose organic produce as it contains higher levels of antioxidants and no toxins that will weaken your immune system.