Staying hydrated is essential for overall health and wellbeing. But drinking plain water can get boring. Adding fruits, vegetables, and herbs to water enhances the taste and provides additional nutrients and health benefits.
Okra water is a healthy, nutrient-packed beverage that has recently gained popularity, especially among women. In this post, we’ll explore 8 science-backed ways that drinking okra water can benefit women’s health.
What is Okra Water?
Okra water is a healthy beverage made by soaking okra pods in water. Okra, also known as ladies’ fingers, is a green vegetable plant from the mallow family. Okra pods contain a slippery, gummy texture and unique flavor.
Soaking the okra pods overnight in water allows some nutrients and compounds to be released into the water, creating what is known as okra water. It takes on a slightly slimy, tangy taste and texture from the okra.
What Does Okra Taste Like?
For most first-timers, okra’s taste and gummy texture take some time. When cooked, okra pods have a green, earthy taste and texture similar to eggplant. The edible seeds inside the pod add a nutty flavor.
Many describe the flavor as a cross between asparagus, eggplant, and green bean. When added to stews, curries, and other dishes, okra gives a slightly sweet, grassy taste. The mucilage can make certain dishes like soup and stew a bit slimier, so okra pods are sometimes sliced before cooking.
The flavor of okra water is milder and more pleasant than cooked okra due to the soaking and blending with water. The tangy, vegetal taste combines with lemon, melon, and grass notes. The mucilaginous texture remains but is diluted by the water, giving it a pleasant mouthfeel. Those new to okra will likely find the flavor of okra water more palatable.
Health Benefits of Okra Water for Women
Research shows that drinking okra water provides powerful health benefits, especially for women.
Here are some of the top ways okra water supports women’s health:
1. Supports Healthy Pregnancy
Okra water is an excellent source of folate, a B vitamin necessary for preventing congenital disabilities of the brain and spine during early pregnancy. Folate is also vital for DNA and cell synthesis during rapid growth and replication.
A rat study published in the Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism found that okra supplementation during gestation improved folate levels in pregnant rats. The nutrients in okra water, including vitamin C, vitamin K, magnesium, and zinc, also support fetal development.
Okra is also high in fiber, which helps relieve the constipation that commonly plagues pregnancy. The anti-inflammatory compounds may help with uncomfortable pregnancy symptoms like nausea, cramping and swelling.
2. Eases PMS and Menstrual Pain
Up to 80% of women experience PMS symptoms like cramps, backache, anxiety, food cravings, and headaches. The powerful compounds in okra water can help alleviate these monthly symptoms.
Studies indicate the antioxidant flavonoids in okra reduce inflammation and uterine contractions associated with PMS cramps and pain. Okra water is also rich in vitamin B6, which helps improve mood, irritability, and depression linked to PMS.
The anti-spasmodic properties help relax the uterine muscles, easing cramping and discomfort. Drinking okra water regularly can make periods a breeze.
3. Improves Heart Health
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in women. Fortunately, drinking okra water has several benefits that support heart health.
Okra contains soluble fiber that helps lower LDL or “bad” cholesterol levels in the blood. In one study published in the Journal of Pharmacy & BioAllied Sciences, okra fiber extracts reduced total cholesterol and triglyceride levels in diabetic subjects.
The antioxidants in okra water, including quercetin, catechins, and vitamin C, fight inflammation and oxidation of cholesterol which hardens the arteries. Okra’s nutrients keep blood vessels flexible and blood flow smooth to reduce cardiovascular disease risk.
4. Helps Control Blood Sugar Levels
For women with type 2 diabetes or prediabetes, okra water can help manage blood sugar spikes after meals.
Studies show the compounds in okra bind to excess glucose in the blood, preventing sugar spikes. Okra’s polysaccharides slow the absorption of sugar in the intestines. The fiber content also prevents sharp rises in blood glucose levels.
A 2011 study published in ISRN Pharmaceutics found that okra peel and seed powder capsules given to diabetic rats for 28 days reduced their high blood sugar levels. The antioxidant compounds also improve insulin resistance.
For more information on diabetes symptoms, read this article: Is Falling Asleep After Eating a Sign of Diabetes?
5. Promotes Healthy Skin
Drinking okra water regularly helps women achieve clear, flawless skin. The high concentrations of dietary fiber cleanse the intestines to reduce acne-causing toxins in the body.
Vitamin C stimulates collagen production for youthful skin, while vitamin K improves skin elasticity. Folate inhibits the production of melanin, preventing discoloration.
The antioxidants in okra water combat free radicals that cause wrinkles, fine lines, and dull skin tone. Okra’s anti-inflammatory abilities reduce redness and irritation. The hydrating mucilage locks in moisture for soft, glowing skin.
6. Boosts Immunity
Okra provides nutrients like vitamin C, zinc, and antioxidants to strengthen the immune system against pathogens, viruses, and infections.
Vitamin C enhances the function of immune cells like lymphocytes and phagocytes. Zinc is needed to grow and activate T-lymphocytes that destroy infected cells.
The flavonoid antioxidants may protect immune cells against harmful free radicals. They also have antibacterial and antiviral effects to fight infection.
7. Helps Keep Hunger Pangs Away
Okra water can aid weight management and help control food cravings between meals due to all the fiber it contains.
Research shows that fiber absorbs water, swells up in the stomach, and promotes feelings of fullness. In one study, people who consumed an okra fiber supplement before a meal consumed less calories during the meal.
The soluble fiber also feeds good bacteria in the gut linked to leptin, the satiety hormone. Regularly sipping on okra water prevents overeating and snacking on junk food.
8. Improves Digestion
Many women experience digestive troubles like acid reflux, constipation, bloating, and gas. The nutrients in okra water help alleviate these issues.
Okra contains insoluble fiber, which adds bulk to stools and may relieve constipation. It also has soluble fiber that feeds healthy gut flora and promotes bowel regularity.
The polysaccharides in okra act as prebiotics that nourish beneficial Bifidobacteria in the intestines. A 2015 Journal of Food Processing & Technology study showed okra polysaccharides increased Bifidobacteria levels in mice.
Better digestion means less stomach discomfort, gas, and abdominal pain. The anti-inflammatory abilities of okra water further calm an upset stomach.
Benefits for Pregnant Women
Pregnant women can significantly benefit from incorporating okra water into their diet. Here are some of the top benefits during pregnancy:
- Folate in okra prevents neural tube defects in developing babies
- Okra relieves constipation, a common pregnancy symptom
- The nutrients like calcium, iron, and zinc support healthy fetal growth
- Anti-inflammatory properties reduce pregnancy aches and pains.
- Okra is low-calorie and hydrating to replace fluids lost from morning sickness/vomiting.
- Okra water is low-glycemic and helps manage gestational diabetes.
How to Make Okra Water
Making refreshing okra water at home is simple. Just follow these easy steps:
- 4-5 medium to large okra pods
- 2 cups water
- Lemon wedge (optional)
- Mint leaves (optional)
- Wash the okra pods thoroughly with water and gently pat dry. Trim the very tips off.
- Cut the okra pods into thin rounds. Add to a glass jar or pitcher.
- Pour the water into the jar over the okra slices. Add lemon wedge and mint leaves if desired.
- Cover the jar and refrigerate overnight or up to 24 hours to allow the nutrients to infuse into the water.
- Once infused, strain the okra water through a fine mesh sieve into a glass. Discard the okra slices.
- Add ice and drink the okra water cold. It can also be stored in the fridge for 2-3 days.
Remember to drink the okra water on an empty stomach first thing in the morning to receive the most benefits. You can drink it warm, but the mucilaginous texture is more prominent when warm.
Feel free to add flavorings like cucumber, fruits, ginger, and lime to enhance the taste. Ensure not to use metal utensils while preparing, as the metal will react with the compounds in okra. Enjoy this super healthy beverage!
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Does okra water have a strong taste?
Okra water tastes mild, especially when infused overnight with water to dilute the flavor. It takes on a pleasant, grassy taste with lemon-melon notes. Much more palatable than cooked okra.
2. Is it safe to drink okra water while breastfeeding?
Yes, okra water is entirely safe during breastfeeding. The nutrients in okra water, like vitamin C, vitamin K, folate, and zinc, benefit breastfeeding mothers. Always check with your doctor before adding anything new, though.
3. Can I drink okra water daily?
Drinking okra water daily is safe and provides the most health benefits. Limit to 1-2 glasses per day. Be sure to use fresh okra and change the water daily.
4. Is okra water suitable for a vegan or vegetarian diet?
Definitely! Okra water is 100% vegan and vegetarian-friendly. It fits perfectly into plant-based diets.
5. Can okra water help me lose weight?
Okra water can aid weight loss efforts due to its high fiber content which promotes satiety and curbs overeating. But exercise and an overall healthy diet are needed to see real weight loss results.
6. How long does okra water keep in the fridge?
Freshly strained okra water will keep 2-3 days refrigerated in an airtight container. For longer shelf life, freeze wasted okra water in ice cube trays for six months.
7. What’s the best time of day to drink okra water?
Most recommend drinking okra water on an empty stomach first thing in the morning to receive the most benefits. But it can be enjoyed any time of day.
8. Does blending the okra work better than infusing slices?
Infusing the okra allows more beneficial mucilage to seep into the water, so this traditional method is preferred. But blending is an easy shortcut.
9. What are the side effects of drinking too much okra water?
There are no significant side effects. However, excessive okra water may cause temporary digestive issues like diarrhea, gas, or bloating due to the fiber content if your body isn’t used to it. Moderation is key.
Try adding the excellent okra water to your diet and experience how it can improve women’s health and well-being!
Hi, I’m Isabella, Author at Health Magazine Lab. I specialize in general health, research, and women’s health, among other topics. I’m passionate about sharing valuable insights and empowering readers to lead healthier lives.