9 Amazing Health Benefits of Okra

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Okra, which is in the same family as hollyhock, is a green seed pod which grows to roughly seven inches in length. It grows on sun-loving plants with white flowers, which grow to about six feet tall. Okra is an annual vegetable, which means that the plant can produce its own seeds within a year after it is planted.

Otherwise known as lady’s fingers, this relative of hibiscus was originally cultivated in Africa– specifically, somewhere around modern-day Ethiopia. We know that it was grown by the Ancient Egyptians in as early as 1200 B.C., and that it quickly spread all throughout the Middle East and the African continent. However, okra did not reach the American continent until much later (sometime in the 1700s, to be exact), when it was brought over along with slaves who were shipped in from West Africa. It is thought that these slaves showed the Creole peoples in Louisiana how to use the versatile plant as a thickener in stews and soups, which is why the nonnative vegetable has become a mainstay in Creole cuisine.

In ancient times, Egyptians cooked and ate the seed pods. The individual seeds themselves received a slightly different treatment: they were lightly toasted, then ground up to be used as a substitute for coffee. Today, okra is consumed all over the world, and its popularity in the United States has skyrocketed as more and more health-conscious people become aware of the plant’s countless benefits. This is particularly true in the south, where an interest in local foods has led to increased sales of locally-grown okra. Okra can now be found in most supermarkets, farmer’s markets and local grocery stores around the country.

Okra releases a thick, viscous, gelatin-like substance when cooked, which many use as a thickener in stews (like the Creole people once did). Other chefs prefer to leave it intact to prevent it from releasing that gelatinous chemical, so they fry it, incorporate it into casseroles, or even add it into salads. Regardless of how it is consumed, the health benefits are the same. Okra has developed a reputation as a miracle food and a cure-all, and while it may not be truly magical, its nutritional properties are worth a taste.

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Health Benefits of Okra

  • Okra is thought to combat diabetes.

In 2012, roughly 10% of Americans had been diagnosed with diabetes, which makes it a tragically common chronic illness. Diabetes is also thought to be one of the most difficult to reverse, but okra is one of the few foods that has been shown to have a direct impact on the symptoms of this dreadful disease. Several studies done on diabetic rats showed that their blood glucose levels and triglycerides had dropped significantly once they consumed okra regularly for a couple weeks. One of these studies also showed that the seeds themselves had a more powerful effect on blood sugar than the seed pods, which is something to think about if you have diabetes.

  • Okra is a great source of dietary fiber.

A significant portion of Americans today suffer from a deficiency in dietary fiber, which can result in constipation, hemorrhoids, and other bowel problems. Increasing the amount of fiber in your diet is a great way to soften stools and help your digestive system run more smoothly, which will alleviate constipation and prevent hemorrhoids. In addition to the digestive benefits, fiber can aid in stabilizing blood sugar levels and preventing heart disease.

  • It is low on the glycemic index.

Okra has a glycemic index of about twenty, which means that it breaks down more slowly than other types of carbohydrates. This minimizes blood sugar spikes and keeps you full longer. The low glycemic index makes this food an excellent choice for people with diabetes, insulin problems, or anyone who is concerned with following a low glycemic diet.

  • Okra may help lower cholesterol.

The dietary fiber in all vegetables helps keep the cholesterol low, but okra has a more significant impact on cholesterol than most other vegetables. One study found that the extract of this plant may interfere with the production and absorption of cholesterol.

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  • It is low in calories.

Okra is perfect for anyone watching their weight because it is low in calories– at only 30 calories per cup, it is a great way to ‘bulk up’ meals and feel full without eating too many calories.

  • kra is thought to help fight kidney disease.

Scientists in 2005 found that okra fights potentially deadly kidney disease. Regular consumption of this green vegetable was shown to greatly reduce signs of kidney damage compared both to control groups and to those who followed a diet plan tailored for diabetes.

  • Okra supports the respiratory system and fights diseases like asthma.

Okra is high in Vitamin C, which is known to help with common respiratory problems like asthma. One study showed that a diet containing sources of Vitamin C, even at fairly low levels, reduced coughing and wheezing during childhood– particularly among at-risk individuals, like those with childhood asthma.

  • It keeps skin looking healthy and youthful.

This can also be attributed to okra’s Vitamin C content. Vitamin C is vital in keeping the skin smooth, healthy and glowing because it is responsible for supporting growth and repair throughout the body. This key vitamin is vital in producing collagen, repairing damaged or dried skin, and ensuring beautiful, uniform skin pigmentation. Some people even boil and mash okra to use it as a moisturizing skin cream, but for the rejuvenating effect on the whole body, eating it is ideal.

  • Okra supports healthy pregnancies.

This is an ideal food for expecting mothers because it is high in folate, which is the most important B vitamin when it comes to producing and nurturing new cells. Folate has been shown to prevent birth defects and aid in fetal growth. Okra’s high Vitamin C content also helps strengthen the mother’s immune system during this vulnerable, often exhausting time.

8 Important Health Benefits of Radishes

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A typical vegetable tray will contain a familiar range of reliable, nutrient-rich vegetables, including carrots, cauliflower, sugar snap peas, and finally, radishes. The famous root vegetable is related to several other popular picks, including cauliflower, broccoli, and kale, which are all members of the cabbage family. Radishes, however, have earned a unique place in the culinary world due to their peppery taste and crunchy texture, but they are also renowned for their nutritional benefits.

When it comes to their origins, radishes are shrouded by an air of mystery– and the subject of much disagreement. The radish (also known by its official name, Raphanus sativus) is thought by some to have originated in Northern China, due to a collection of archaeological evidence and references in Chinese literature. Others argue that radishes originated somewhere near the Caspian Sea, as this is the area where the greatest variety of radish types is found.

That being said, there are a few ideas that have risen to prominence. The radish is believed to have been cultivated originally by either the Chinese, the Egyptians, or the Ancient Greeks. Some Egyptologists believe that radishes were consumed as early as 2700 B.C., while others suggest that they only began using the word ‘radish’ after the Greeks introduced them to it. The conflicting, sometimes muddy evidence of origin has made these root vegetables the mysterious orphans of the food pyramid. We do know, however, that they found their way onto the North American continent by the year 1629, and that they were consumed throughout much of Europe by the early 1500s.

Regardless of our uncertainty when it comes to radish history, their nutritional value is universally accepted.

In the time before the Middle Ages, sailors would consume radishes for their Vitamin C, preventing scurvy and other deadly illnesses. Today, dietitians consider them a valuable part of any healthy diet for their other nutritional properties too– including fiber, vitamin B6, calcium, iodine, and even folate.

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Eight Important Health Benefits of Radishes:

1) They are low-calorie and high-fiber.

As with many vegetables, radishes are low in calories, containing only 18 calories per one cup of slices. They are also high in fiber, containing 1.9 grams of dietary fiber per cup, and low in sugar. All these factors make them an excellent choice for anyone who is looking to cut calories. The low calorie content allows dieters to eat a larger serving, and the high fiber content aids in maintaining satiety longer.

In addition to keeping you fuller longer, dietary fiber has been linked to a decreased risk of many chronic, life-threatening illnesses, including heart disease, diabetes and colon cancer. Just one cup of radishes will provide 7% of your recommended daily fiber intake. Not to mention the effect all that fiber will have on relieving constipation!

2) Radishes are high in body-building Vitamin C.

As previously mentioned, the radish saved many a sailor from scurvy in the Middle Ages. Incorporating radishes into your diet can make it easier to reach your recommended daily allowance of Vitamin C– just half a cup of radish slices provides 8.6 mg of this vital vitamin, which amounts to 14% of your recommended daily intake. Vitamin C is vital in maintaining a healthy body and brain, because it is one of several nutrients used to rebuild and repair. Vitamin C is required to build tissue, maintain strong teeth, and create healthy blood cells.

According to the University of Maryland, Vitamin C’s antioxidant properties also make it great for staving off cancer.

Diets high in Vitamin C are better at fending off dangerous cell damage that can lead to tumors. Vitamin C is also water soluble, which means the body can’t hang onto it for long periods of time. This is why you have to consume Vitamin C every day to maintain health and well-being.

3) Radishes have cancer-fighting properties.

In addition to Vitamin C, radishes have a group of chemicals called isothiocyanates, which have been shown to have powerful anti-cancer properties. These chemicals alter the genetic pathways in cancer cells, and actually increase cancer cell death. This means that radishes can be a key element in a healthy, cancer-fighting diet.

4) Radishes can help lower your blood pressure.

Radishes contain high levels of potassium, which is vital in maintaining healthy, stable potassium-sodium levels in the body. This is especially important today, because the standard American diet contains far higher levels of sodium than it does potassium. Radishes have been shown to lower blood pressure in patients with hypertension.

5) They fight urinary tract infections.

Radishes have diuretic properties, which means they help ‘flush out’ your system. This gets rid of toxins that may have accumulated in your kidneys or in the blood, which will help with painful inflammation or burning characteristic of a UTI. These diuretic properties make radishes an important part of any diet meant to fight a wide variety of urinary conditions.

6) They boost your immune system and fight colds.

Vitamin C is the gift that keeps on giving. Radishes are great to kick your immune system in gear during cold and flu season, when you are looking for a reliable non-citrus source of this vital vitamin.

In addition to immune system support, radishes have powerful anti-congestive agents, which will help clear uncomfortable congestion in your throat and sinuses. This is why radishes are invaluable in preventing (and shortening) colds.

7) They are hydrating.

Radishes are mostly water, so if you have some difficulty drinking eight glasses of water every day, incorporate this watery vegetable into your diet. Hydrating foods will keep your digestive system running smoothly and help to prevent fatigue, mental fogginess and lethargy. In addition to keeping you energized and focused, maintaining proper hydration will increase your body’s ability to absorb other vitamins and minerals.

8) They can relieve stomach problems.

Radishes are considered a ‘cooling’ food due to their anti-inflammatory, hydrating properties, which have a calming effect on the body. This is especially true for the digestive system. Radishes are often seen to relieve stomach problems like bloating and indigestion in healthy individuals– but those with GERD should note that radish, like peppermint and onion, can exacerbate symptoms.

Final Thoughts

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These are just eight of the documented health benefits of regularly consuming radishes. They can be enjoyed raw or cooked, and can be added to a variety of dishes and recipes to enhance flavor and nutrition. Many people add them to salads or enjoy them with a healthy vegetable dip, like hummus. Others use them as a low-carbohydrate alternative to potatoes, or enjoy them roasted/steamed. Radishes are a valuable source of nutrition for almost everyone, and while they may exacerbate symptoms of GERD, they are considered universally safe and beneficial.

Nutritional Value of Beet and Radish

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Nutritional Value of Beets: Beets have always been a vital source of energy that is also enriched with nutrients and fiber. It is a biennial plant and is available almost throughout the year. Whether it is the modified root itself or the Chard (edible green leaves), both are incredibly helpful in contributing to a healthy metabolism. While Beta vulgaris is widely relished in the form of salads due to its spicy, lemon-like flavor or in a pickled state, the edible green leaves are also loaded with a rich vitamin and mineral content. Furthermore, its subspecies are sources for highly nutritious garden beet juice, sugar production and animal fodder.

Nutritional Facts of Beets

Beets are a rich source of potassium, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus and copper. Calcium, sodium, zinc and selenium are also present in small amounts.

Vitamin Content

Beets consist of vitamin C, folate and betaine in large quantities. Vitamin A, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6 and pantothenic acid are also present in small amounts. It also contains traces of beta carotene.

Caloric Content of Beets

Beets are known for being rich in nutrients and low in calories, having a calorific value of 43.0 per 100 grams. As a result, it forms an important part of salads for people under controlled diets.

Health Benefits of Beets

Beets have been found useful in the treatment of colon cancer and birth-related defects. It is a natural cleanser, which removes toxins from the body and nourishes the bloodstream. Beets are useful in the treatment of liver-related dysfunctions like jaundice and cirrhosis.

Garden beet juice is a good source of energy and is essential for the human body. It is not advisable to feed beets to infants below six months, but it is of good use to women during menstruation.

Nutritional Value of Radishes: Radishes are root vegetables with a rich flavor. They are used in most of the world’s cuisines, but is particularly popular in Japanese and Chinese cuisine.

Nutritional Facts of Radishes

Radishes have excellent levels of copper, manganese and potassium. They are also a good source of calcium, magnesium, iron, phosphorous, zinc and sodium.

Vitamin Content of Radishes

Radishes are very good sources of vitamin C and vitamin K. They also contain riboflavin and vitamin B6.

Caloric Content of Radishes

100 grams of radishes contain only 16 calories. Radishes are low in saturated fat and very low in cholesterol. They are also a very good source of dietary fiber.

Health Benefits of Radishes

Radishes have anti-bacterial as well as anti-fungal properties. They are beneficial for coughs, respiratory problems, digestive disorders, asthma, and bronchitis, as well as liver and gallbladder conditions.

Nutritional Value of Mushrooms

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Mushrooms are forms of fungus, many of which are edible and can be consumed by humans. They are enjoyed around the world due to their delicious taste and impressive nutritive value. They are so widely praised because they not only contribute normal nutrients and benefits of vegetables, but they also contribute nutrients commonly found in animals, beans, and grains as well. They are commonly known as the “meat” of the vegetable world. This makes mushrooms a well-rounded and nutritive part of any healthy diet and they are commonly found in cuisines all around the world. They are also found all around the world, since fungi commonly grow in dark, damp places, or on top of a food source that they are decomposing.

Nutritional Value of Mushrooms

Mushrooms have a wealth of different nutrients and minerals contained in their edible bodies, but the most interesting thing is that mushrooms take on the nutritive composition of the food that they decompose/consume. Therefore, mushrooms can contain any number of unique and beneficial minerals for humans. The most common minerals found in mushrooms are selenium, copper, potassium, and phosphorous, with smaller amounts of iron, magnesium, zinc, and manganese.

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Mushrooms also contain protein and dietary fiber, two other essential components of a healthy diet. Mushrooms are low in saturated fat and sodium, and very low in cholesterol.

Caloric Content of Mushrooms

One of the main reasons why people love to eat mushrooms is that they don’t make you gain weight, yet they provide so many nutrients! In a 100 gram serving of mushrooms, there are only 22 calories, and only 3 of those calories are from fat!

Vitamin Content of Mushrooms

The vitamin content of mushrooms is also rather impressive. Common mushrooms are rich in the B-complex vitamins, including pantothenic acid, niacin, and riboflavin, as well as slightly lower levels of thiamin, folate, vitamin B6, vitamin C, and vitamin D. They are the only “vegetable” in the produce aisle that supplies you with vitamin D, so keep that in mind when putting your balanced diet together!

Health Benefits of Mushrooms

Some of the miraculous health benefits of mushrooms include their ability to lower bad cholesterol levels (LDL) and raise good cholesterol levels (HDL), which protects heart health and reduces blood pressure. The high-energy, low-fat composition of mushrooms also makes it ideal for diabetic patients who want to maintain a good balance of vitamins and minerals in their bloodstream so the insulin is well-regulated.

In terms of the mineral content, mushrooms help prevent anemia by contributing iron and copper to the diet, which are essential for red blood cell production. The minerals also boost bone mineral density and help prevent conditions like osteoporosis and arthritis. The potassium keeps blood pressure low, while selenium protects the hair, nails, and teeth, along with acting as a powerful antioxidant.

Mushrooms as a whole are great antioxidants, which have been proven to protect against a variety of cancers, including breast cancer and prostate cancer.

The vitamin content is equally significant, especially vitamin C’s immune boosting capabilities and the presence of vitamin D, a rare vitamin to find in vegetables that is essential for calcium uptake and proper metabolic functioning.
Overall, it is safe to say that mushrooms are a “superfood” that can help improve your health in a variety of ways thanks to its impressive nutritional value.

Health Benefits of Peppermint Tea

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Peppermint tea is a delicious and refreshing way to boost your overall health in a number of ways, due to its ability to improve digestion, reduce pain, eliminate inflammation, relax the body and mind, cure bad breath, aids in weight loss and boosts the immune system. Its impact on the digestive system is considerable, and its base element of menthol is perhaps the most valuable part of its organic structure.

Quite simply, peppermint tea is an infusion made from peppermint leaves that is drunk as a tea. When you mix spearmint leaves to the tisane (infusion), then you get what’s called doublemint tea. This substance is caffeine-free, so many people who suffer from sensitive sleep patterns like to drink this relaxing tea before bed.

The scientific name of peppermint is Mentha piperita, and is actually a cross between water mint and spearmint. It is native to Europe, but its popularity and wide range of uses has made peppermint a global commodity.

Peppermint tea is similarly enjoyed around the world. Peppermint oil is a popular form of medicinal treatment, particularly for Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

We see similar effects from ingesting peppermint tea. The mentholated flavor is very appealing to many people, making this one of the more popular tea varieties in the world. Tea is known to be soothing, sure, but what else does this widely available tea have for our bodies in terms of benefits? Let’s explore some of those other medicinal applications of peppermint tea below.

Health Benefits of Peppermint Tea

Fever Reducer: When we think of the sharp, cool effect of menthol, we don’t necessarily think of a hot cup of tea, but peppermint tea has menthol as a main component, so drinking the tea can cause external sweating, while the menthol cools down your body inside. This essentially “breaks” a fever, and can reduce the associated inflammation and discomfort.

Digestive Health: Peppermint oil and peppermint tea have been used for thousands of years to sort out a variety of digestive and gastrointestinal conditions. Archaeological evidence actually shows peppermint being used as far back as 10,000 years ago as a dietary supplement. Peppermint tea is considered a carminative, meaning that it helps to move gas through the body as it accumulates, rather than causing bloating, cramping, and stomach discomfort. The tea also stimulates bile flow to increase the rate and efficiency of digestion and promote healthy bowel movements.

It is not only a carminative, but also a analgesic, so it reduces the associated pain of cramps, bloating, and indigestion. This is due to its calming effects on the intestines and smooth muscles of the digestive tract. Diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome, and constipation can all be improved with this tea, as it brings the entire system to more optimal activity levels.

Nausea and Vomiting: When it comes to being sick, few things are as unpleasant as being nauseous or vomiting. Peppermint tea is antispasmodic, so it reduces the chances of vomiting and nausea, even in cases of motion sickness on a boat or a plane. It also reduces the stomachaches and queasiness associated with motion sickness, and its anti-inflammatory qualities can return your stomach to normal.

Respiratory Issues: As an antispasmodic, it can also relieve you of that irritating sensation that makes you want to cough, thereby exacerbating your respiratory condition. By relaxing the muscles of the throat and chest, you can eliminate that aspect of cold and flu symptoms.

Immune System: Peppermint tea has known antibacterial properties, which are the cause of so many illnesses, including fevers, coughs, and colds. Not only can drinking this delicious tea help you treat the symptoms of being ill, it can also prevent your body from getting sick in the first place! There are also trace elements of vitamin B, potassium, antioxidants and calcium, which can help your body uptake nutrients to fight off illness and perform necessary function to keep your body working in a healthy way.

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Bad Breath: The strong, mentholated flavor and antibacterial quality of peppermint tea make it an ideal way of improving your breath. The antibacterial element kills the germs that can lead to halitosis, while the menthol overwhelms the foul smell and leaves your breath fresh and clean!

Weight Loss: The aroma of peppermint oil and some of its organic components can actually eliminate the appetite, so smelling this substance can help reduce overeating, and subsequently, obesity!

Stress Levels: The natural sedative and antispasmodic nature of menthol makes it very good at relieving mental stress. The anti-inflammatory nature can reduce blood pressure and body temperature, and allow you to unwind and relax, letting your cares melt away. This is part of the reason why peppermint oil is so popular in aromatherapy, but the effects from peppermint tea are very similar.

A Few Words of Caution: It is a powerful type of tea, and although it does have the wide range of health benefits explained above, there are still some possible side effects. The menthol can act as an allergen to some people, and can cause heartburn in others. Both of the reactions are typically mild, but consulting a doctor about possible allergies is always a good idea. Besides that, grab some peppermint leaves and get brewing!