The health benefits of okra include its ability to improve digestive health and vision, manage diabetes, boost skin health, soothe joint pain, prevent certain cancers, and strengthen bones. It also improves cardiovascular health, balances cholesterol levels, aids the immune system, lowers blood pressure, and protects heart health.
What is Okra?
Okra is a flowering plant that is known in many parts of the world as ladies’ fingers or bhindi and is most highly prized because of its seed pods. The scientific name of this interesting plant is Abelmoschus esculentus and its origin is still unclear.  Contrasting research says that it could have been South Asian, West African, or Ethiopian in origin, but the jury is still out.
Uses of Okra
Okra is frequently used in dishes from the Caribbean to China, and its popularity is increasing all the time, particularly because of its various uses. This vegetable pod can be used as a pickled vegetable, or an ingredient in soups, and side dishes, and is also utilized for its oil, which can be extracted and used as a vegetable oil.
Okra Nutrition Facts
Okra may not be the most conventional vegetable in the garden, but it has a rich content of vitamins and minerals, including vitamins A, B, C, E, and K, as per the USDA National Nutrient Database.  The vegetable also contains calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, and zinc. Furthermore, it contains high levels of nutritious mucilaginous fiber, colloquially called okra slime. Most of the health benefits are due to the presence of minerals, vitamins, and organic compounds found in it.
Health Benefits of Okra
A study published in the Journal of Food Processing & Technology throws light on various health benefits of okra.  Let us discuss some of those important health benefits in detail below.
Perhaps, the best part of adding okra to your diet is the significant increase it can have on your total fiber intake. Mucilaginous fiber found in it can help move food through your digestive tract by adding bulk. This means that bowel movements are more regular and there is a reduction in gastrointestinal issues such as bloating, cramping, constipation, and excess gas. Oddly, it also helps prevent diarrhea, because it adds bulk to watery stools. Further, its fiber content can help clear out excess cholesterol and controls the rate at which sugar is absorbed into the body.
Okra has potent antioxidant power in its seeds and peel, which specifically help people with type 2 diabetes. A 2011 study published in the Journal of Pharmacy and Bioallied Sciences explored the antidiabetic and antihyperlipidemic properties of the green sticky vegetable.  Diabetic rats were administered the powdered form for a range of 14 to 28 days and they showed improved lipid profiles when the tests ended. Okra water is known to be beneficial for managing blood glucose levels.
Okra contains a very high content of vitamin A, as well as antioxidant components like beta carotenes, xanthein, and lutein.  Antioxidants are powerful compounds that destroy or neutralize free radicals, which are the dangerous byproducts of cellular metabolism. Free radicals are responsible for cell degradation in the body, including those responsible for vision. By increasing the intake of this wonderful vegetable in your diet, you can protect your eyes against macular degeneration and cataracts.
High levels of vitamin C and A in okra help protect skin health by promoting quicker healing, reducing the appearance of scars and acne, and eliminating wrinkles. This is because the antioxidants are able to neutralize the free radicals which may have damaged skin cells. 
Reduces Joint Pain
Okra water has been traditionally used as a folk remedy to soothe joint aches and arthritic pain. To get the benefits of okra water, boil slit okras in filtered water till the water becomes sticky. Consume it with salt and pepper. This thick liquid is packed with the nutrients of the vegetable. Furthermore, a study cited in the Nutrients Journal revealed that the vegetable has anti-fatigue properties.  This means that by adding this vegetable to your regular diet along with routine exercises, you will definitely stay fit and healthy.
Lowers Blood Pressure
Okra is a good source of both vitamins and minerals, including potassium, which is an essential aspect of human health. Potassium is necessary to maintain proper fluid balance in the body because it balances sodium. Furthermore, potassium helps relax the blood vessels and arteries, which reduces blood pressure and lessens the strain on the cardiovascular system.  This means that the chances of clotting and atherosclerosis will be greatly reduced.
Okra water can be used to add luster and strength to hair strands; simply apply the water on your hair and rinse off after 15-20 minutes. The mucilage in this water, also known as okra slime, contains many minerals and vitamins which boost hair health.
The various antioxidant components of okra make it very beneficial to fight off free radicals and the high vitamin C content also means that the body’s immunity is boosted. This vitamin can stimulate the immune system to create white blood cells, which can combat foreign pathogens in the body that weaken the immune system. Additionally, research also claims that its antioxidant properties help in preventing liver damage.
By John Staughton