Facts, Health And Nutritional Benefits Of Okra

About Okra

Latin Name : Abelmoschus esculentus.

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, Ethopia 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 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.



Source
okra flower
okra flower | Source

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 fiber 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 fiber 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 fiber and mucilage help in easier passage of the digestive contents thus relieving and preventing constipation. It also maintains the health of the digestive tract and trats issues like colitis, IBS, diverculitis and the like.
  • It is a acts 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 clooting time, protects against heart disease and diabetes.
  • The mucilage and soluble fiber 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 anti bacterial 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.

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 gonorrhea, syphilis, painful urination etc.
  • Okra juiice benefits in 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 decocotion 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.
  • Decocotion 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.


Okra Pickle

Bhindi Subzi (Okra Vegetable)

Stuffed Okra recipe, Bharvan Bhindi, bhindi/Bhendi masala

© 2013 Rajan Singh Jolly

More by this Author


Comments 34 comments

billybuc profile image

billybuc 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

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.


Kathryn Stratford profile image

Kathryn Stratford 3 years ago from Manchester, Connecticut

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!


mary615 profile image

mary615 3 years ago from Florida

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.


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 3 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA. Author

@ Bill - thank you.

@ Kathryn - Thanks a lot. Appreciate it.


greatstuff profile image

greatstuff 3 years ago from Malaysia

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.


moonlake profile image

moonlake 3 years ago from America

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.


hawaiianodysseus profile image

hawaiianodysseus 3 years ago from Southeast Washington state

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


carol7777 profile image

carol7777 3 years ago from Arizona

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.


torrilynn profile image

torrilynn 3 years ago

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.


Ruchira profile image

Ruchira 3 years ago from United States

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


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 3 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA. Author

@ 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.


ARUN KANTI profile image

ARUN KANTI 3 years ago from KOLKATA

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


Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

Gypsy Rose Lee 3 years ago from Riga, Latvia

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


DDE profile image

DDE 3 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

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.


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 3 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA. Author

@ 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.


Thelma Alberts profile image

Thelma Alberts 3 years ago from Germany

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;-)


Darknlovely3436 profile image

Darknlovely3436 3 years ago from NewYork

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


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 3 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA. Author

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

@ Annie - Thanks for visiting.


sgbrown profile image

sgbrown 3 years ago from Southern Oklahoma

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! :)


Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

Wesman Todd Shaw 3 years ago from Kaufman, Texas

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!


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 3 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA. Author

@ 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.


Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul Kuehn 3 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand

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.


rebeccamealey profile image

rebeccamealey 3 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

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.


Jared Miles profile image

Jared Miles 3 years ago from Australia

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. :)


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 3 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA. Author

@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.


Jenna Pope profile image

Jenna Pope 3 years ago from Southern California

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


Crystal Tatum profile image

Crystal Tatum 3 years ago from Georgia

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.


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 3 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA. Author

@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.


jainismus profile image

jainismus 3 years ago from Pune, India

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.


CraftytotheCore profile image

CraftytotheCore 3 years ago

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.


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 3 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA. Author

@Mahavir-Thank you, my friend!

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


truthfornow profile image

truthfornow 3 years ago from New Orleans, LA

I love okra. All kinds of ways.


condominium profile image

condominium 3 years ago from Philippines

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.


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 3 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA. Author

@truthfornow-thanks.

@condominium-glad you found this informative. Thanks.

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