Okras, Barbados Pocket Guide


This plant is by no means unfamiliar to Barbados as it serves as one of the main ingredients in Barbados' national dish, coucou and flying fish.


Okra plants grow all year round and are related to such species as cotton, cocoa and hibiscus and reach heights of up to 2 m tall. The leaves are broad with approximately 5–7 lobes. The flowers are 4–8 cm diameter, with five white to yellow petals, often with a red or purple spot at the base of each petal. The fruit is a capsule up to 18 cm long, containing numerous seeds.


Okras like any other plant should be washed thoroughly before usage as this ensures as much dirt and possible residual pesticide is removed. The crown and tips are then removed and


Cultivation Process

Okra seeds are soaked overnight before they are sown. The process of germination takes between six days and three weeks to occur with seedlings requiring a suuficient amount of water.


The seed pods rapidly become fibrous and woody and must be harvested within a week of the fruit being pollinated to be edible. The fruits of the okra are harvested when immature and eaten as a vegetable.


Health Benefits of Okra

On the island of Barbados, we've been told time and time again by the older folks of the importance of eating as many raw fruits and vegetables. The okra plant is no stranger to this particular piece of truth as the greatest health benefits can be acquired from the plant in its raw state. Based on the high fiber content in okra, it is seen as one of the best natural products available for assistance with the overall health of the digestive system. It aids in the removal of toxins and assists in the effectiveness of probiotics. Probiotics are substances that stimulate the growth of microorganisms, especially those with beneficial properties (such as those of the intestinal flora).


Okra contains vitamins A and C and is a good source of iron and calcium. It also contains starch, fat, ash, thiamine and riboflavin.


The superior fiber found in okra helps to stabilize the blood sugar by curbing the rate at which sugar is absorbed from the intestinal tract
Okra's mucilage binds cholesterol and bile acid carrying toxins dumped into it by the filtering liver
Okra helps lubricate the large intestines due to its bulk laxative qualities. The okra fiber absorbs water and ensures bulk in stools. This helps prevent and improve constipation. Unlike harsh wheat bran, which can irritate or injure the intestinal tract, okra's mucilage soothes, and okra facilitates elimination more comfortably by its slippery characteristic. Okra binds excess cholesterol and toxins (in bile acids). These, if not evacuated, will cause numerous health problems. Okra also assures easy passage out of waste from the body. Okra is completely non-toxic, non-habit forming, has no adverse side effects, is full of nutrients, and is economically within reach of most individuals unlike over-the-counter drugs
Okra fiber is excellent for feeding the good bacteria (probiotics). This contributes to the health of the intestinal tract
Okra is a supreme vegetable for those feeling weak, exhausted, and suffering from depression
Okra is used for healing ulcers and to keep joints limber. It helps to neutralize acids, being very alkaline, and provides a temporary protective coating for the digestive tract
Okra treats lung inflammation, sore throat, and irritable bowel syndrome
Okra has been used successfully in experimental blood plasma replacements
Okra is good for summer heat treatment
Okra is good for constipation
Okra is good in normalizing the blood sugar and cholesterol level
Okra is good for asthma. Okra's vitamin C is an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, which curtail the development of asthma symptoms
Okra is good for atherosclerosis
Eating okra helps to support the structure of capillaries
Some information shows that eating okra lowers the risk of cataracts
Okra is good for preventing diabetes
Okra protects you from pimples and maintains smooth and beautiful skin. No wonder Cleopatra and Yang Guifei enjoyed eating okra
Seeing okra plants around Barbados with their stunning foliage and bell-like yellow flowers with red centers, certainly augurs well for making this plant an attractive piece in any garden.
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