The Okra is a flowering plant native to Africa and India possessing multiple qualities for the human being. The Okra has been discovered 4000 years ago. Egyptians are the first population who started to cultivate it. Nowadays, the plant is cultivated in tropical, subtropical and warm temperate regions around the world. The fruit is used as a vegetable or condiment.
The plant often grows between 2 and 4 metres tall. The leaves are quite long and broad with 5 to 7 lobes. The flowers are also long with five white to yellow petals, often with a red or purple spot at the base of each petal. The fruit is a capsule shaped from 18 to 25 centimetres long with pentagonal cross-section, containing numerous seeds. Most of okra fruits are green but there are also red colour species.
The entire plant of Okra is edible. Indeed, the leaves can be cooked in a similar way to the greens of beets or dandelions, or also eaten raw in salads. The fruit can be consumed cooked as a side dish with meat, poultry, sea food or fish. You can also minced and add it in salads. In Guadeloupe Archipelago, common ways to eat okra are as a fresh salad with a creole dressing or in the “Calalou”, a traditional soup . Finally, Okra oil is pressed from Okra seeds. Okra oil is edible and high in unsaturated fats as well as having pleasant taste and odour.
Nutrient content and health benefits
Okra is a popular health food due to its high fibre, vitamin A and C and minerals content. Okra is also known for being high in antioxidants and a good source of calcium and potassium. Regarding health benefits, Okra has several qualities for skin, hair and to prevent multiple diseases such as diabetes, cholesterol or cancer. Okra fights against anaemia, asthma, constipation, sore throat, gastritis, urocrisis and help to strengthen bones.