Cancer is a major health problem characterized by rampant abnormal cell growth and dissemination. There are approximately 10 million cases of cancer found annually across the whole world. The cancers came into existence due to several genetic defects as consequences of the infectious agent, wrong dietary habits, and exposure to the environment.
“Nutritional factors including wrong and unhealthy foods found to be associated with cancer risk of about 20-30%. Inversely, a healthy diet including several functional foods significantly lowers the risk of 30-40% cancer.”
A positive relationship between cancer and nutrition has been extensively elucidated in the past few years. Based on such scientific data, a new paradigm for cancer prevention can be developed. We surely heard of many spices like turmeric, black peppers or cumin seeds, and vegetables like cruciferous vegetable role in the diet for cancer patients. However, there is one more green vegetable, which has its importance in cancer prevention. This vegetable is okra.
1. What is okra?
Okra is a nutritious vegetable renowned with different names at different places around the world. In certain English speaking nations, okra is also called by the lady’s finger. Other than this, it is known with names like bhindi in India and many more. In tropical areas, this vegetable can be grown throughout the year. It not only a vegetable but also have certain medicinal properties.
2. Beneficial components present in okra
Okra is enriched with various nutrients and phytochemicals. Different parts of okra contain various specific components.
- Pods mainly contain vitamins (vitamin C, niacin, folic acid, vitamin B1, and B2), polyphenolic compounds, oxalic acid, amino acids, and carotene.
- Roots contain fixed oils, flavonoid glycosides, and carbohydrates.
- Mature seeds and kernels contain palmitic, linoleic, oleic acids, and essential amino acids.
- Leaves contain flavonol glycosides like quercetin derivatives and minerals.
3. Health benefits of okra
By virtue of the components present in okra, this vegetable possesses potent anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antipyretic, antidiabetic, hemagglutinating, neurological, and antinociceptive properties.
4. Okra and cancer:
Besides the aforementioned health benefits, okra also exhibits significant anticancer actions upon various cancer cell lines. Therefore, being an essential food of diet of cancer patients, this vegetable can provides great benefits.
•Okra for breast cancer
Enriched with lectins, okra restricts the cellular proliferation of breast cancer cells. Lectins are non-immune origin proteins with diverse biological functionalities. Okra helps to arrest the cancer cell cycle, elevate pro-apoptotic proteins, and activate caspase cascades without affecting healthy cells. Furthermore, okra also exhibits significant strategies along with standard chemotherapy without encouraging systemic toxicity.
•Okra for prostate cancer
It has been found that people consuming okra along with a southern diet, for instance, beans, grits, potatoes instead of a western diet found to have 40 per cent less risk of having prostate cancer.
•Okra for metastasis melanoma
A type of pectin, rhamnogalacturonan found in okra considerably restricts cell proliferation and stimulates apoptosis against metastasis melanoma.
•Okra for lung cancer
Okra is also beneficial in lowering the risk or in treating lung cancer. This property of okra is due to its potential anti-proliferating properties against lung cancer cell lines.
Based upon active elements, and associated immunomodulatory, anti-proliferative, and anti-apoptotic properties, okra can be potentially used as an anticancer agent like other anticancer foods.