Okra Health Benefits, Nutritional Facts, Tips for Cooking Okra

The health benefits of Okra are outstanding and it has been called a 'super food' because of the array of nutrients it provides.

This article summarizes the nutritional facts for Okra, compared with other green vegetables.

Okra is grown throughout the warm temperate and tropical regions of the world. Okra, which is also known as 'gumbo' or 'lady finger', is a very nutritious green edible pod vegetable belonging to the mallow family (scientific name: Abelmoschus esculentus).

The plants yield an abundance of fibrous fruits or 'pods'.

It grows best in rich and well drained soil. The light to dark green pods are about 5-15 cm in length, and appear after growing for about 45 days.

The pods are harvested while they are immature and are eaten as vegetable.

Okra has been called the new 'super vegetable' because of its outstanding range of healthy nutrients
Okra has been called the new 'super vegetable' because of its outstanding range of healthy nutrients | Source

Nutrition Facts for Okra

Nutrient Value for 100 g
Nutrient Concentration
% Recom. Daily Allowance
Energy
31 Cal
1.5%
Carbohydrates
7.0 g
5.4%
Protein
2.0 g
4.0%
Total Fat
0.1 g
0.5%
Cholesterol
0 mg
0.0%
Dietary Fiber
3.2 g
9.0%
Vitamins
 
 
Folates
88 mcg
22.0%
Niacin
1.0 mg
6.0%
Pantothenic acid
0.25 mg
5.0%
Pyridoxine
0.21 mg
16.5%
Riboflavin
0.06 mg
4.5%
Thiamin
0.20 mg
17.0%
Vitamin C
21.1 mg
36.0%
Vitamin A
375 IU
12.5%
Vitamin E
0.36 mg
2.5%
Vitamin K
53 mcg
44.0%
Electrolytes
 
 
Sodium
8 mg
0.5%
Potassium
303 mg
6.0%
Minerals
 
 
Calcium
81 mg
8.0%
Copper
0.09 mg
10.0%
Iron
0.80 mg
10.0%
Magnesium
57 mg
14.0%
Manganese
0.99 mg
43.0%
Phosphorus
63 mg
9.0%
Selenium
0.7 mcg
1.0%
Zinc
0.60 mg
5.5%
Phyto-nutrients
 
 
Carotene
225 mcg
--
Crypto-xanthin
0 mcg
--
Lutein-zeaxanthin
516 mcg
--

Health Benefits of Okra and Nutrition Facts

  • Okra have very few calories, with just 30 Cal per 100 g. They also have a low calorie density and are rich in fiber which means that they digest slowly.
  • Okra are low in fat and contain no cholesterol or saturated fats
  • Okra are a rich source of minerals, dietary fiber, vitamins and have been used beneficially for weight control programs.
  • Okra provide 36% of the recommended daily allowance for vitamin C, 44% for Vitamin K and 13% for Vitamin A. These also provide 43% of the daily allowance for manganese
  • The pods contain quite high amounts of antioxidants such as of vitamin A, and flavonoid compounds and beta carotenes, xanthin and lutein.
  • Fresh Okra pods are good source of folates, providing about 22% of RDA per 100 g. They are also rich in the other B group vitamins such as vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine), niacin, pantothenic acid and thiamin.

Comparison of the Nutrients in Okra with other Vegetables

The table below provides a comparison between Okra, Onion, Green Peas, Kale and Green Pepper.

  • Okra has much fewer calories than green peas and Kale
  • Magnesium levels are high and are similar to the levels in green peas
  • Okra has a much higher level of Calcium, higher than all the other vegetables
  • Folate levels are very high
  • Vitamin B1 (thiamine) levels are higher in all vegetables except for peas
  • Dietary Fiber is higher than or the other vegetables

Nutrient Comparisons with other Green Vegetables

Nutrient
OKRA - 1 cup cooked Okra
ONION - One small onion
BOILED PEAS - One Cup
KALE - One cup of cooked
GREEN PEPPER - One small raw green
Protein
3.0 g
0.83g
8.58 g
2.47 g
64 g
Calories
35
26
134
36
15
Dietary fiber
4 g
0.8g
8.8
2.6 g
1.3 g
Potassium
216 mg
100 mg
434 mg
296 mg
130 mg
Phosphorus
51 mg
21 mg
187 mg
36 mg
15 mg
Magnesium
58 mg
13 mg
62 mg
23 mg
7 mg
Calcium
123 mg
0.14 mg
43 mg
94 mg
7 mg
Iron
0.45 mg
7 mg
5 mg
1.17 mg
0.25 mg
Sodium
10 mg
2 mg
3.0 mg
30 mg
2 mg
Zinc
0.69 mg
0.13 mg
1.9 mg
0.31 mg
0.1 mg
Copper
0.136 mg
0.04 mg
0.277mg
0.203 mg
0.049 mg
Manganese
0.47 mg
0.092 mg
0.62 mg
0.541 mg
0.09 mg
Selenium
0.6 mcg
0.4 mcg
3.0 mg
1.2 mcg
 
Vitamin C
26.1 mg
3.1 mg
22.7 m
53.3 mg
59.5 mg
Niacin
1.394 mg
0.099 mg
3.234 mg
0.65 mg
0.355 mg
Vitamin B1 (thiamine)
0.211 mg
0.025 mg
0.414 mg
0.069 mg
0.042 mg
Vitamin B2 (riboflavin)
0.088 mg
0.014 mg
0.238 mg
0.091 mg
0.021 mg
Vitamin B6
0.299 mg
0.077 mg
0.346 mg
0.179 mg
0.166 mg
Folate
74 mcg
0.068 mg
0.101mg
17 mcg
7 mcg
Pantothenic Acid
0.341 mg
9 mcg
0.245 mg
0.064 mg
0.073 mg
Vitamin A
453 IU
1 IU
1282 IU
17,707 IU
274 IU
Vitamin K
64 mcg
0.3 mcg
41.4 mg
1062mcg
5.5 mcg
Vitamin E
0.43 mg
0.01 mg
0.22 mg
1.1 mg
0.27 mg

Preparation and Serving Methods for Okra

  • Wash the pods very well in several exchanges of in water. Add a little vinegar to the rinse water to remove dust, dirt and any chemicals. The vinegar stops the Okra becoming slimy when cooked.

    Cut off crown end and tips. Usually the pods are sliced into small circular pieces and used in variety of cuisines in Indian and Asian countries. They can also be cut diagonally and steamed and used as an accompaniment for various meat dishes.
  • Bring the Okra to room temperature before slicing or cooking.
  • Okra cooks very quickly, so always cook it using moderate heating temperature.
    When sauteing or stir-frying okra, make sure the pieces are spread out as a single layer in the pan. If the pan becomes over-crowded and piled on itself, it will sweat, release moisture and may become slimy.
  • Only add salt to okra when you have finished cooking it. Otherwise it may become slimy.
  • Never cover the pan while the okra is cooking. This stops steam and moisture building up.

© 2012 Dr. John Anderson

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Comments 4 comments

Silva Hayes profile image

Silva Hayes 4 years ago from Spicewood, Texas

I also love okra, boiled, fried, sauteed. We grew okra in our garden every year when I was a child. It loved the hot weather and was our last crop of the summer. The flower of the okra plant is beautiful and much loved by bumblebees. Voted this hub Up, useful, and interesting.


Healthy Pursuits profile image

Healthy Pursuits 4 years ago from Oregon

A timely article - I've just planted okra for the first time. I'm looking forward to trying it in several recipes. The tips on vinegar and salt when cooking are especially appreciated. (You may have a mistyping - the family is mallow.)


Silva Hayes profile image

Silva Hayes 4 years ago from Spicewood, Texas

I tried this method last night, washed the okra in a vinegar-water mixture, then sauteed in olive oil and sesame garlic Sass, a local salad dressing. It was delicious, and not slimy. Thanks!


BlissfulWriter profile image

BlissfulWriter 3 years ago

I like orka, but mine always become slimy. I don't cook it with salt. But it is probably overcrowded in my pan. Next time, I will use soak in vinegar beforehand -- good idea.

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