Okra is a plant that is valued all over Africa for it’s medicinal properties. It is a good source of minerals, vitamins, antioxidants, and fiber. The plant is a notable part of the cuisine of the typical African home. Initially okra was used by Ancient Africans to thicken their soups and stews but as time went on they discovered other uses for the wonder plant.
Brief History of Okra
Biologically classified as a fruit, okra is generally utilized in Africa like a vegetable in cooking.
Nobody knows for sure where okra first appeared, but Scientists believe the cultivation of the okra plant began as early as 12th century BC in the African country of Ethiopia.
Okra was also mentioned by a Spanish Moor who visited Egypt in 1216 (likely brought in by traders from Ethiopia and the Sudan).
Initially okra was used by Ancient West Africans to thicken their soups and stews but as time went on they discovered other uses for the wonder plant. One of which was using okra water to boost ovulation and today the practice is still very much alive in some parts of Africa.
Okra Water for Ovulation
There are different ways African women go about using okra to boost ovulation, one is by using it together with stock fish, meat, ponmo, crayfish, pepper, salt, seasoning cubes and red oil to prepare a sumptuous pot of soup, the second is by immersing the okra in water and leaving it covered overnight to be drank the next morning.
It is believed that Okra water encourages the release of more than one egg during ovulation and increases the chances of a lady having multiple births. Apart from okra water, it is believed that okra leaves ‘ewe ilasa’ also boosts ovulation and fertility.
The “ewe ilasa” is used in preparing the Ilasa native soup, peculiar to the Igbo-Ora people of Oyo state. and it has been suggested to be responsible for the high rate of twinning among women in Igbo-ora community.
The rate of twin births in the Igbo-ora community is about four times higher than in the rest of the world.
Research into multiple births carried out at Lagos’s University Teaching Hospital has suggested that a high level of a chemical found in the Igbo-ora women and the okra leaves could account for the high level of multiple births.
Numerous works has also shown that okra leaves which is central to the Igbo-ora peoples diet, contains a very large amount of these chemical substances. These women have a disproportionately large amount of these chemicals in their system and this encourages the release of more than one egg.
How to Prepare Okra Water For Ovulation
You don’t really need a recipe because you can make it to taste anyway you like. However, here is a rough guideline.
Buy okra from the market, wash it and then dice the okra into desired shapes and immerse it in water over night, drink the water first thing in the morning that’s after you must have separated the okro from the water.
Okra Water for Male Fertility
Despite its nutritional and medicinal values, too much consumption of okra may have injurious effects in men so therefore if you are trying for a child as a man okra should not be on your diet. Studies have shown that the seeds of okra contain a toxic compound called gossypol or a gossypol-like compound which when consumed frequently can stimulate infertility in many animals including men by irreversibly blocking the development of the sperm cells within the male testes. It also decreases sperm count, sperm motility, decreases testosterone level and testicular weight, and testicular tissue etc. These detrimental effects may subsequently reduce male fertility or cause male infertility.
On the other hand scientists recommended high consumption of okra (by women) during pregnancy because it promotes healthy pregnancy as well as reduces the rate of birth defects. In addition, okra was reported to be essential for the fetus’ brain.
Other Uses Of Okra
Raw okra is rich in dietary fiber, vitamin C and vitamin K, with moderate contents of thiamin, folate and magnesium (table). Okra also provides iron, niacin, phosphorus, copper, and a rich source of antioxidants.
Okra study found that okra increases fiber intake, promotes better glycemic control, and improves insulin sensitivity. Foods high in Okra also lower cholesterol levels, according to The American Heart Association.
The vitamin C in okra also helps support healthy immune function.
Okra can also be used in Fighting Cancer
Antioxidants are powerful nutrients that can prevent or even repair cell damage that can lead to illness.
Okra contains antioxidants (natural compounds that help your body fight off molecules called free radicals that can damage cells) which may inhibit cancer cell growth in humans. Studies using concentrated compounds from okra showed they inhibited the growth of breast cancer cells by up to 63%. Further research is needed for definitive proof of okra’s cancer-blocking properties.
Okra Supports Heart and Brain Health
The antioxidants in okra may also benefit your brain by reducing brain inflammation. Also, the thick, gel-like substance found in okra can bind with cholesterol during digestion so it is passed from the body. An eight-week study conducted on mice showed lower blood cholesterol levels after they were fed a high-fat diet containing okra powder.
Okra helps Control Blood Sugar
Various studies have shown okra may help control blood sugar levels.
In one study, rats given purified okra and liquid sugar had fewer blood sugar spikes than rats in the control group. More evidence is needed to confirm that okra helps control blood sugar levels in humans.
One cup of okra has 15% of the daily value of folate, a helpful nutrient for pregnant women. Folate helps reduce the risk of miscarriage and neural tube defects, which can affect the brain and spine of developing fetuses.
Okra is also a good source of:
Magnesium, Folate, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Vitamin B6.