Top 6 Nutritional Benefits of Okra

by John Staughton last updated -

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The health benefits of okra include its ability to improve digestive health, manage diabetes, reduce fatigue, and increase endurance levels. It also helps reduce stress and lowers cholesterol as well as triglyceride levels in the body.

What is Okra?

Okra is a flowering plant that is known in many parts of the world as ladies’ fingers or bhindi and is most highly prized because of its seed pods. The scientific name of this interesting plant is Abelmoschus esculentus and its origin is still unclear. Contrasting research says that it could have been South Asian, West African, or Ethiopian in origin, but the jury is still out.

Watch Video: 9 Reasons To Eat Okra

Uses of Okra

Okra is frequently used in dishes from the Caribbean to China, and its popularity is increasing all the time, particularly because of its various uses. The different uses include:

Nutrition Facts

Okra, raw
Serving Size :
NutrientValue
Water [g]89.58
Energy [kcal]33
Protein [g]1.93
Total lipid (fat) [g]0.19
Carbohydrate, by difference [g]7.45
Fiber, total dietary [g]3.2
Sugars, total [g]1.48
Calcium, Ca [mg]82
Iron, Fe [mg]0.62
Magnesium, Mg [mg]57
Phosphorus, P [mg]61
Potassium, K [mg]299
Sodium, Na [mg]7
Zinc, Zn [mg]0.58
Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid [mg]23
Thiamin [mg]0.2
Riboflavin [mg]0.06
Niacin [mg]1
Vitamin B-6 [mg]0.22
Folate, DFE [µg]60
Vitamin B-12 [µg]0
Vitamin A, RAE [µg]36
Vitamin A, IU [IU]716
Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) [mg]0.27
Vitamin D (D2 + D3) [µg]0
Vitamin D [IU]0
Vitamin K (phylloquinone) [µg]31.3
Fatty acids, total saturated [g]0.03
Fatty acids, total monounsaturated [g]0.02
Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated [g]0.03
Fatty acids, total trans [g]0
Cholesterol [mg]0
Caffeine [mg]0
Sources include : USDA

Nutrition Facts

Okra may not be the most conventional vegetable in the garden, but it has a rich content of vitamins and minerals, including folate, B vitamins as well as vitamins A, C, E, and K, as per the USDA National Nutrient Database. The vegetable also contains calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, and zinc. Furthermore, it contains high levels of nutritious mucilaginous fiber, colloquially called okra slime. Most of the health benefits are due to the presence of minerals, vitamins, and organic compounds found in it.

Health Benefits of Okra

Let us discuss the important health benefits of okra in detail below.

Diabetes Management

Okra has potent antioxidant power in its seeds and peel, which specifically help people with type 2 diabetes. A 2011 study by V Sabitha et al. from the Department of Bioinformatics, Karunya University, India, published in the Journal of Pharmacy and Bioallied Sciences, explored the antidiabetic and antihyperlipidemic properties of the green sticky vegetable. Diabetic rats were administered the powdered form for a range of 14 to 28 days and they showed improved lipid profiles when the tests ended.

Furthermore, okra water is known to be beneficial for managing blood glucose levels. A study conducted by Thanakosai W et al., published in the National Product Communications, says that in Turkey, drinking water infused with roasted okra seeds is a common natural remedy for diabetes. While these research studies show that okra has the potential to help in managing diabetes, a clinical trial involving humans will go a long way in helping understand the impact of this green vegetable on diabetes.

Improves Digestion

A 2016 study by a team of international researchers led by H Fekadu et al. says that okra has fiber content, which can help improve digestion. The study found that the high amount of fiber in the vegetable helped improve the absorption process in the large intestine and stimulated peristalsis in the body. This may also help prevent constipation.

Okra helps manage blood glucose levels and can be beneficial to diabetics.

Reduces Fatigue

Okra may help reduce fatigue levels in the body. Researchers led by Fangbo Xia from Beijing, China in their study titled “Antioxidant and Anti-Fatigue Constituents of Okra” found that antioxidant-rich vegetable seeds may help reduce muscle tiredness. In a clinical trial conducted on laboratory mice, the swimming time of mice who were given okra extract increased significantly as compared to the control group. Also, lactic acid levels were much lower in the mice that had the vegetable extracts, indicating a lower muscle weakness effect. The research study suggested that okra consumption could be related to improved metabolic capacity and improved ability stress of mice.

Lowers Cholesterol Levels

Researchers from Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine found evidence that okra can lower total cholesterol levels. In the study, the researchers treated obese mice with an ethanol extract of okra. The nutrients in the solution, including isoquercitrin and quercetin, helped reduce the levels of blood glucose, insulin, and total cholesterol levels.

Also, this vegetable is a good source of fiber; 1 cup provides 3.2 g of dietary fiber. According to the American Heart Association, foods rich in dietary fiber help lower bad cholesterol levels.

Treats Hypertriglyceridemia

Okra can be a dietary therapy source for hypertriglyceridemia, a condition that occurs when there is a high level of certain type of fat (triglycerides) in the blood. People with hyper, which may contribute to the hardening of arteries and subsequently, cardiovascular diseases. The aforementioned study conducted in China and published in The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry (July 2014 issue).

Anti-stress Effect

Researchers in India have found scientific evidence through a study conducted on laboratory rats that okra seeds extracts have anti-stress (adaptogen) properties. Adaptogens can help enhance overall health as prolonged stressful situations can cause ineffective adaptation in the body, which includes reduced stamina levels and effect mood. According to the study led by Sathish Kumar Doreddula, Srinivasa Reddy Bonam, and Durga Prasad Gaddam et al., published in the Scientific World Journal, not only can okra help reduce stress levels, it also has the potential to treat stress-related disorders and dementia. Further detailed studies are required to explore this particular health benefit.

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Word of Caution: People who are taking metformin to control type 2 diabetes should not complement it with excessive okra consumption. A study by H Khatun et al., published in the International Scholarly Research Notices, shows that consuming the vegetable may improve glycemic control but can interact with metformin and alter its absorption.

Enjoy okra in your favorite dishes or find some new delectable dietary choices from around the world!

About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, and publisher who earned his English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign, Urbana (USA). He is the co-founder of a literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and calls the most beautiful places in the world his office. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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