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Health and Nutritional Benefits of Okra

Rajan is a botany and chemistry major. He has worked as a poultry breeder for 23 years, breeding layer and broiler parents.

Latin Name: Abelmoschus esculentus.

About Okra

In India, okra is called Bhindi or Bhendi.

Some other names for okra are lady's fingers, gumbo, bendi, quibombo, bamia, quiabo, okura, qui kui.

Okra belongs to the family Malvaceae or the mallow family. The plant provides pods that are green and edible when raw.

Okra plant grows in tropical, subtropical and warm temperate areas and is believed to be a native of South Asia, Ethiopia or West Africa. The plants grow to about 6-7 feet tall. Okra pod has a slimy feel due to the presence of mucilage.

This sliminess is not preferred by many people and can be reduced by adding vinegar, tomatoes, tamarind paste, dry mango powder, curd or some drops of lemon. It can also be reduced by slicing the pods thin and cooking till the mucilage dissolves or okra can be added as the last ingredient to the preparation of the dish so as to cook it for as little time as possible.

Okra is a popular vegetable in many countries and is mainly eaten as a vegetable. However, it can be pickled or a soup made from it. The leaves are also cooked like other greens. They can be eaten raw as in salads.

The seeds can be roasted and ground to form a drink very similar to coffee but without coffee's caffeine content. In fact, during World war II there was a shortage of coffee and the seeds were ground and used as a replacement coffee.

Okra seeds when pressed yield a greenish-yellow edible oil that is high in unsaturated fats like oleic and linoleic acids. Okra oil is as good as many other cooking oils. It is also suitable as a biofuel.

Crispy Fried Bhindi (Okra)

Nutrients In Okra

  • Okra is low in calories and provides only 30 calories/100 grams.
  • It is free of fat and cholesterol.
  • Okra is rich in dietary fibre and provides 9% of the daily value/100 grams.
  • It has good amounts of Vitamins C and K, supplying 36% and 44% of the daily requirement and moderate amounts of Vitamin A, about 12% of the daily value/100 grams.
  • It contains good to moderate amounts of the B complex group of vitamins, providing 17% of thiamine, 16.5% of pyridoxine, 6% of niacin, 5% of pantothenic acid and 4.5% of riboflavin per 100 grams.
  • Okra is a very good source of folates and supplies 22% of the DV/100 grams.
  • It is rich in the phytonutrients, beta carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin.
  • Okra also contains several vitamins like manganese (43% DV/100 grams) and decent amounts of calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, zinc and phosphorus.

Nutrients In Okra

Okra (Abelmoschus esculentus), Fresh, raw pods, 

Nutrition value per 100 gms

 

(Source: USDA National Nutrient data base)

 

Principle

Nutrient Value

Percentage of RDA

Energy

1.50%

31 Kcal

Carbohydrates

7.03 g

5.40%

Protein

2.0 g

4%

Total Fat

0.1 g

0.50%

Cholesterol

0 mg

0%

Dietary Fiber

9%

3.2 g

Vitamins

 

 

Folates

88 mcg

22%

Niacin

1.000 mg

6%

Pantothenic acid

0.245 mg

5%

Pyridoxine

0.215 mg

16.50%

Riboflavin

0.060 mg

4.50%

Thiamin

0.200 mg

17%

Vitamin C

21.1 mg

36%

Vitamin A

375 IU

12.50%

Vitamin E

0.36 mg

2.50%

Vitamin K

53 mcg

44%

Electrolytes

 

 

Sodium

8 mg

0.50%

Potassium

303 mg

6%

Minerals

 

 

Calcium

81 mg

8%

Copper

0.094 mg

10%

Iron

0.80 mg

10%

Magnesium

57 mg

14%

Manganese

0.990 mg

43%

Phosphorus

63 mg

9%

Selenium

0.7 mcg

1%

Zinc

0.60 mg

5.50%

Phyto-nutrients

 

 

Beta Carotene

225 mcg

--

Beta Crypto-xanthin

0 mcg

--

Lutein-zeaxanthin

516 mcg

--

Health Benefits Of Okra

Not only is the humble okra full of nutrients, it has a plethora of health benefits as well. Some of the health benefits of okra are given below.

  • Okra mucilage contains soluble fibre and helps to bind the bile acids, cholesterol and toxins in the digestive tract, preventing their absorption and facilitating their removal. Thus lowering cholesterol levels.
  • The fibre and mucilage help in the easier passage of the digestive contents thus relieving and preventing constipation. It also maintains the health of the digestive tract and treats issues like colitis, IBS, diverticulitis and the like.
  • It is as as a natural diuretic for the kidneys and reduces the toxins in the blood.
  • The various flavonoids protect against lung and oral cancer.
  • Vitamin A helps in protecting the vision and maintaining healthy mucosal membranes and skin.
  • Vitamin C raises immunity levels and protects against infections, coughs, colds and free radical damage.
  • Vitamin K makes the bones strong, helps in maintaining proper blood clotting time, protects against heart disease and diabetes.
  • The mucilage and soluble fibre ensure slower absorption of food and sugar, thereby ensuring blood sugar levels do not spike leading to better management of blood sugar levels and control of diabetes.
  • Okra is a low glycemic index, alkaline vegetable.
  • It reduces triglyceride levels and this property is especially beneficial for diabetics.
  • Okra has antibacterial activity and it inhibits the growth and proliferation of H.pylori in the intestine.
  • The mucilage in okra is non-toxic and can be extracted for use as a thickener and stabilizer in the cosmetic, pharmaceutical and food industries.
  • Okra is a natural detoxifier.

Dahi Wali Bhindi (Okra Cooked in Yogurt)

Some Traditional Uses Of Okra For Health

Okra has been used in traditional folk medicine. Some of the uses of different parts of the plant are as given below.

  • A decoction of okra leaves and fruits are used to relieve urinary problems like gonorrhoea, syphilis, painful urination etc.
  • Okra juice benefits in a sore throat that has been promoted by coughing.
  • The leaves and roots can be used as a dressing for wounds.
  • Okra has carminative properties and can be used to relieve abdominal pains.
  • Okra leaves relieve inflammation.
  • A decoction of okra can relieve fever, headache and arthritis.
  • Okra has beneficial effects on the skin and relieves pimples and acne.
  • Okra seeds prevent and relieve muscle spasms.
  • Decoction of raw okra fruit relieves mucous membrane inflammation of the respiratory tract.
  • The roots have compounds that protect the liver.

To summarize okra has all these wonderful health benefits that only accrue when it is cooked for as little time as possible and not all benefits can be obtained when it is cooked to death, like in curries.

References

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3178946/
http://www.ijrpc.com/files/04.pdf
http://www.nutrition-and-you.com/okra.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Okra
http://www.naturalhealth-solutions.net/healthy-eating/okra-is-the-ideal-vegetable-for-weight-loss
http://www.sphinxsai.com/PTVOL3/PT=43,%20RAVIKUMAR,%20%20%20%20(658-665).pdf
http://www.greenpharmacy.info/article.asp?issn=0973-8258;year=2008;volume=2;issue=4;spage=200;epage=203;aulast=Sunilson
http://cat.inist.fr/?aModele=afficheN&cpsidt=15622086
http://www.medicalhealthguide.com/herb/okra.htm
http://www.arabtimesonline.com/NewsDetails/tabid/96/smid/414/ArticleID/154141/reftab/96/t/Okra-fights-diabetes-and-digestive-woes/Default.aspx

Disclaimer

The information provided in this hub is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult your physician, or health care provider before taking any home remedies, supplements or starting a new health regime.


Some Of My Other Hubs On Healthy Foods

  • Health Benefits Of Macadamia Nuts
    Macadamia nuts are called a functional food. Learn about the excellent nutritional profile as well as the many health benefits of macadamia nuts, by reading on...
  • Health Benefits Of Karela Or Bitter Melon
    Karela is also called bitter gourd, bitter melon or bitter squash. It is probably the most bitter fruit that is used as a vegetable. Learn about the health benefits of Karela, by reading on...
  • Health Benefits Of Prunes
    Dried Prunes may not be the among the handsomest of fruits with their dark and wrinkly appearance but they have amazing health benefits. Read on to learn about the various health benefits of prunes..

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2013 Rajan Singh Jolly

Comments

Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on September 17, 2013:

@truthfornow-thanks.

@condominium-glad you found this informative. Thanks.

Jeffrey Dela Costa from Philippines on September 17, 2013:

I didn't know that the cooking time affects the nutritional value of okra, I love this vegetable. I used to hate it when I was a kid because of its appearance but eventually I learned to enjoy it. It has a subliminal sweet taste and its texture is really different.

Marie Hurt from New Orleans, LA on September 16, 2013:

I love okra. All kinds of ways.

Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on September 16, 2013:

@Mahavir-Thank you, my friend!

@CraftytotheCore-okra grows so fast and so abundantly one needs but a few plants to harvest them everyday.

CraftytotheCore on September 16, 2013:

Nice Hub! Okra is so easy to grow too. There used to be a restaurant in New Haven, CT, where I'd dine for lunch. They had fried catfish and okra lunch specials. mmmmm good.

Mahaveer Sanglikar from Pune, India on September 16, 2013:

Thanks for sharing this detailed information of Okra.

Okra is not tasty as raw, but it becomes very tasty when used with right recipes, spices, stuffing etc.

Shared.

Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on September 16, 2013:

@Jenna-I'm sure you'll lie the Indian way of preparing okra though it may take a while getting used to the taste.

@ Crystal-yes, roasting is a good way to keep away from all those calories. Glad you like the information.

Crystal Tatum from Georgia on September 15, 2013:

I have to say fried is my favorite way to eat okra, but I imagine that decreases the nutritional value. I have recently discovered roasting with a bit of olive oil and sea salt and that's also very good. Another very thorough and interesting hub.

Jenna Pope from Southern California on September 15, 2013:

Wow! This was a complete, well-written article! I am going to try the Indian recipe...

Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on July 15, 2013:

@Paul-thanks a lot for all the visit and sharing, my friend. In China right now and may take a while to respond to comments. Thank you.

@Rebecca-We usually make it cut n cooked or stuffed and stir fried. Thanks for the visit.

@Jared-glad you like the info and thanks for the kind words. I hope you can find it so that you can make it.

Jared Miles from Australia on July 14, 2013:

Once again rajan, a wonderful and informative nutrition Hub. I learnt a lot about Okra today, but I've never really had any sort of use for it. Hopefully, I'll be able to apply the things I learned today in cooking meals. Now I just have to find it, I've never seen it at the supermarket? Thanks again rajan, doing well. :)

Rebecca Mealey from Northeastern Georgia, USA on July 13, 2013:

Ummm! I love it in gumbo. Breaded and fried is how we fix it around here. Probably not the healthiest choice, but I have learned to oven-fry it in olive oil.

Paul Richard Kuehn from Udorn City, Thailand on July 13, 2013:

rajan,

This is another awesome, well-researched hub. I didn't start eating okra until I moved to Maryland years ago. It is really delicious, and I just had some yesterday at a Japanese restaurant in Bangkok. It's interesting that okra leaves can be used to treat sexually transmitted diseases like gonorrhea and syphilis. Voted up and sharing with followers and on Facebook. Also Pinning and Tweeting.

Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on March 04, 2013:

@ Sheila - That's a great compliment and you can certainly add my hub links to your hubs and blog. I certainly appreciate this fine gesture. Thank you. Appreciate your visit, votes and the sharing. Have a great day.

@ WTS - thanks for stopping by.

Wesman Todd Shaw from Kaufman, Texas on March 03, 2013:

Outstanding article!

Here where I live in Texas - okra grows very very well, and we generally have some in our garden.

Nearby in Louisiana, okra is often used in Cajun "gumbo" dishes, but most of us in the Southern US really like to batter and fry it!

Sheila Brown from Southern Oklahoma on March 03, 2013:

We love okra at my house. We grow it in our vegetable garden every year. I use it in many of my recipes. My favorite way to cook it is to fry it in cornmeal. I could eat it like popcorn! This is an excellent hub on the nutritional value of okra. I would like to add a link to your hub to my hub here, "All About Okra", and to my okra recipes here and on my blog, if that would be ok with you. I think your link would be an excellent addition. Voting this up, useful and sharing! Have a wonderful day! :)

Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on February 23, 2013:

@ Thelma - Thanks for stopping by and also sharing it.

@ Annie - Thanks for visiting.

Annie from NewYork on February 23, 2013:

I love my okra in cornmeal.. codfish and ... white rice

Thelma Alberts from Germany and Philippines on February 23, 2013:

Yummy! I love okra cooked in vinegar with garlic. I did not know that it has a lot of health benefits. Thanks for sharing Rajan. Voted up and shared;-)

Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on February 22, 2013:

@ Arun - that's very healthy. Thanks for reading.

@ Rasma - I do hope you give this vegetable a try. Appreciate the visit.

@ Devika - You are welcome. I hope you include this healthy vegetable in your regular diet. Thanks.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on February 21, 2013:

How interesting I knew of Okra but have learned of the name from you. I have eaten this vegetable and had no idea of the benefits either. Thanks for imforning me of such good food.

Gypsy Rose Lee from Daytona Beach, Florida on February 21, 2013:

Informative and interesting. Never tried okra before. Glad to know about the benefits will try it. Passing this on.

ARUN KANTI CHATTERJEE from KOLKATA on February 21, 2013:

Another useful hub. I like to eat boiled lady's fingers for the maximum benefit.Thanks.

Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on February 20, 2013:

@ Mary - thanks for sharing how you use this vegetable and also for stopping by.

@Mazlan - you are right. Thanks for reading.

@ moonlake - properly prepared it is indeed tasty. Thanks for the visit and share.

@ HO - The reference I found to was just that it was used by roasting and grinding the seeds and using them just like coffee powder for making the beverage. I've no idea if it it was or is being sold commercially. But I'm sure it should not be difficult to make it.

Always a pleasure to see you my friend. Thanks for the continued support.

@ Carol - thanks and good to note that you feel motivated to try it again. Appreciate the sharing.

@ Torri - Thanks for coming by to read.

@ Ruchira - thanks visiting and commenting.

Ruchira from United States on February 20, 2013:

Wow...I did not know that it had have such benefits such as arthritis and congestion etc....

Since childhood, I have been fond of okra, and still love it.

Great hub

torrilynn on February 20, 2013:

i find it always great to know the benefits behind any type of vegetable or fruit. I never knew that okra had so many benefits and that there were so many facts about okra.thanks.

carol stanley from Arizona on February 20, 2013:

Great hub.. My husband loves this vegetable. In fact when we lived in Houston we had several plants. Alas it is not my favorite..but I will try again Thanks for a great informational hub. Voting up and sharing.

Hawaiian Odysseus from Southeast Washington state on February 20, 2013:

Good morning, Rajan! Thank you once again for the comprehensive report on yet another nutritious vegetable. Would you happen to know the name of that coffee substitute that was used during WW II? And is it sold commercially today? Great work, as always!

Aloha!

Joe

moonlake from America on February 20, 2013:

I love okra it's big in the south. It is one of the main items on the table. My only problem I love it but I love it fried. It is so good for you I wish we could grow it here. Excellent hub voted up and shared.

Mazlan from Malaysia on February 20, 2013:

If I may add the following: Local old wives tale says that okra help to improve the quality of sperm. Found articles on the net that supports this. There are also articles that say otherwise. I tend to believe the former, as I know of friends who tried and agreed.

Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on February 20, 2013:

@ Bill - thank you.

@ Kathryn - Thanks a lot. Appreciate it.

Mary Hyatt from Florida on February 20, 2013:

You always amaze me because of all the research you take the time to do for your articles!

We Southern people in the US love okra. It is usually boiled or fried. I like it sliced and breaded with cornmeal, then fried. Oh, dear, I know frying isn't healthy ,but I love it that way.

Voted UP, etc. and will share.

Kathryn from Windsor, Connecticut on February 19, 2013:

You specialize in this type of post, don't you? You must put a lot of research into them.

This is very informative. There were many things about okra that I didn't know (such as that the seeds can be made into a coffee-like beverage).

When I lived in Virginia, I ate okra quite often. I didn't like it at first, but after a while I didn't even mind the sliminess. I typically like most vegetables.

Thank you for sharing your vast knowledge with us!

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on February 19, 2013:

And yet another food I have never eaten. This is a big item in our southern states. Thanks for the information. As always, you have delivered excellent information.