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No scientific proof that ‘okra water’ prevents cancer, cures diabetes, arthritis and more

“The okra you don’t value is the actual cure for your diabetes and arthritic pain,” claims a Facebook post published in Nigeria in December 2019.

Okra water has been used for centuries as a natural remedy to soothe joint aches, arthritic pain, and for the treatment of diabetes,” it says.

“The powerful antioxidants contained in the okra's thick liquid has been proven to help prevent cancer and the potassium in it helps relax the blood vessels, which reduces blood pressure and strengthen the cardiovascular system.”

It then describes how to make “okra water”.

The post includes a graphic showing chopped okra in a jar of liquid. The graphic’s text reads: “Drink okra water and treat diabetes, asthma, cholesterol and kidney diseases.”

It’s been shared more than 9,500 times, and attracted some 1,400 reactions.

But is it true that okra can heal all these ailments – and prevent cancer?

Nutritious – but not a cure-all

Okra is a flowering plant with edible seed pods. It seems to have origins in north eastern Africa, and today is grown in a number of tropical and subtropical countries.

The seed pods contain no saturated fats or cholesterol, but are a good source of dietary fibre, vitamins, minerals and protein.

Africa Check asked Prof Tanimola Akande, a consultant public health physician, about the claims.

“Okra water has not been scientifically proven to treat or prevent cancer or help relax blood vessels or blood pressure,” he said.

Prof Emmanuel Aguwa, a professor of public health in the faculty of medical sciences at the University of Nigeria in Nsukka, told Africa Check that the okra concoction had not been medically proven to treat diabetes, asthma, kidney disease and cholesterol. – Jennifer Ojugbeli


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