health and nutrition

Low Sexual Performance and the Okro Myth

”Madam, I can’t take Okro” the man exclaimed in objection to my suggestion that Okro was beneficial to his health.  I made sure to extol the benefits of Okro as a wonderful vegetable he could include in his healthy diet plan. He looked at me perplexed as though I had threatened to harm his mother. The stark reality of how much people had bought into the misconception about Okro stared me in the face.


‘Why?’ I asked concerned, waiting to hear the usual tale of ‘Okro and low sexual performance.’ I wondered how much nutrients people took for granted at what is frankly one of my favourite vegetables. He shifted uncomfortably in his seat and whispered in embarrassment.
”I have heard it gives excessive phlegm, waist pain..and…hmmm affects performance.”

Okro or Okra (aka Lady’s Fingers) is the stuff a Dietitian’s dreams are made off. To say Okro is nutritious and offers numerous health benefits would be like saying ‘the sun is hot’ you simply can’t do enough justice to the statement. Its health benefits read like something out of a Nutrition book’s ‘Hall of Fame’

From its anti-diabetic properties, rich nutrient value ( high vitamin C, foliate, potassium, calcium and other essential vitamins and minerals), excellent weight reducing properties (due to its rich fibre content and low calories) to its cancer preventing properties ( rich in antioxidants), promotion of colon health (prevents constipation) and relief from respiratory problems ( such as asthma). The list is endless. 
Surprised? Just read on.
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It also boasts of its ability to boost one’s mood and prevents depression and is also known to give a smooth and beautiful skin with protection from pimples. Ancient history has it that Cleopatra; the ancient Egyptian queen who was celebrated for her beauty was noted to be a great fan of Okro. (Oh spare us. You like Sources too much, everything Source! *laughs*)

Okro is found in dishes and cuisines all over the world. It is consumed in the US, Western Europe, Caribbean, Greece, Turkey, India, South America.  In Ghana, it is eaten mostly in stew or soup preparations and found to be engrained in the traditional dishes of most Ghanaian tribes. However, in spite of its versatility and benefits, Okro has not entered into the good books of some people, chiefly to blame is the myth surrounding it.

It’s slimy nature has served as a turn off for some people and had led to negative speculations about its nature. Interestingly, it’s slimy (mucilage) nature lowers cholesterol and serves as a lubricant and laxative for the intestinal tract.

Still in doubt? Then you account for a part of the school of thought that supports the notion that Okro has negative implications on reproductive health and result in impotence.
Below is my last set of facts about Okro. If you still are not convinced, then …
Okra’s high level of vitamins notably vitamin C and folate help prevent birth defects and it’s highly beneficial for a pregnant woman and her baby. Okro has also been recommended for years for use as a natural aphrodisiac and researchers have found that the folate in Okro as well as its other numerous minerals and vitamins enhance sperm quality.

Well….let’s just say the jury is out there…as well as hard scientific facts. Let conduct a purely subjective exercise. Shall we?

1.      Make a list of all the Ghanaian tribes who have had Okro as part and parcel of their traditional dishes for centuries.
2.      Have we noticed any desirable traits about the indigenes that we could link to the benefits of their regular intake of Okro? and finally
3.      Do you eat Okro?
4.      What has been your experience?  We will be happy to hear from you
Meanwhile, as you to ponder over these questions, I am off to get a huge bowl of Okro Soup with ‘Banku’. You are surely invited.
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The Writer is Dede Kwadjo, a Dietician/Nutritionist and a member of the Ghana Dietetics Association. She lives in Accra, Ghana. You may reach her directly via Dede.kwadjo@gmail.com

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