Okra — also called ochro, gumbo, bhindi, and ladies' fingers — might not look like anything special, but the veggie is chock-full of good-for-you nutrients. Not only are they low-cal and a rich source of dietary fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants, but they're also apparently supposed to do great things for your skin and eyes.
With the popular release of the first-ever okra facial wipes, we were extra curious whether this green plant lives up to the hype. There isn't much research available that looks specifically at okra's direct effect on skin and eyes, so we asked an expert to break it down for us.
"Okra is known to have high levels of vitamin A, vitamin C, and many other antioxidants, making it a helpful alternative option for reducing wrinkles, helping with acne and acne scars, and reducing skin irritations and blemishes," says Lana Pinchasov, RPA-C, physician assistant at Schweiger Dermatology Group in New York City.
And eyes definitely don't get left out, either.
"Some of the antioxidants found in okra that are beneficial for eye health are beta-carotene, zeaxanthin, and lutein," she says. "These also promote the neutralization of free radicals in the eyes, which cause the breakdown of cells in the body responsible for macular degeneration and cataracts. It also helps nourish the eyes to prevent eye-associated illnesses."
Keep in mind that these skin and eye benefits are based on general knowledge of what various vitamins and antioxidants do for your skin and eyes, not on evidence that okra itself directly improves your skin and vision. That said, there's no arguing that okra is a healthy veggie that's worth trying — both in your meals and on your face. But how do you reap the benefits of okra if you don't want to spend big bucks on face wipes?
"Okra can definitely be added to recipes to get these benefits, but it can also be applied topically to the face for a localized effect," Pinchasov says. "The best way to do this is to boil okra until soft, using a fork to gently mash and mix it into a paste-like mixture. Apply it to your face for four to six minutes for a smooth and refreshed feeling."