Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014

Over 6 Health Benefits of Okra, Plus Growing Tips

Published on February 23, 2013 by   ·   50 Comments

by Mike Barrett

okrasliced 265x165 Over 6 Health Benefits of Okra, Plus Growing TipsAlso referred to as lady’s finger and gumbo, Okra is a nutritional powerhouse used throughout history for both medicinal and culinary purposes. Once loved by the Egyptians and still used in many dishes today (such as the infamous gumbo dish), this pod-producing, tropical vegetable dates back over 3500 years ago. But still today, many are enjoying both okra health benefits and the vegetable’s edible delight.

Like the kiwi fruit (okra actually shares many kiwi fruit benefits), okra is known for it’s high vitamin C, vitamin K, and folate content,(although not quite as high as kiwi). Further, okra is known for harnessing a superior fiber, which helps with digestion, stabilizes blood sugar, and helps to control the rate at which sugar is absorbed.

But there is much more to okra.

Nutritional Content of Okra:

While the “amount of nutrition” from okra varies based on how it’s consumed (pods, grams, etc), some of the key substances in the vegetable remain the same. Here are some prominent vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients found in okra that deserve some spotlight. Each figure is based on 1 cup (100g) of okra.

  • Fiber – 2.5 grams. 10% of RDA (recommended daily value)
  • Vitamin C – 16.3 milligrams. 27% RDA.
  • Folate – 46 micrograms. 11% RDA.
  • Vitamin A – 283 international units. 6% RDA.
  • Vitamin K – 40 micrograms. 50% RDA. The vitamin K found in okra is known as vitamin K1, one of two beneficial forms. The other beneficial form is K2; K3 is synthetic and should be avoided.
  • Niacin (Vitamin B3) – 0.9 mg. 4% RDA.
  • Thiamin (Vitamin B1) – 0.1 mg. 9% RDA.
  • Vitamin B6 – 0.2 mg. 9% RDA.
  • Magnesium – 36 mg. 9% RDA.
  • Manganese -  0.3 mg. 15% RDA.
  • Beta carotene – 225 mcg.
  • Lutein, Zeaxanthin – 516 mcg.

Check out the USDA Nutrient Database for a full nutritional profile of okra.

The Known Okra Health Benefits – What Okra Has to Offer

As mentioned, Okra is rich in numerous vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that are responsible for the health benefits the plant has to offer. Here are some of okra’s health benefits:

  • Okra Promotes a Healthy Pregnancy - An extremely important B vitamin for producing and maintaining new cells, folate is an essential compound for optimal pregnancy. The vitamin helps prevent birth defects like spina bifida and helps the baby to grow sufficiently. Vitamin C is also essential for fetal development. Okra is rich in both folate and vitamin C.
  • Helps Prevent Diabetes – Thanks to fiber and other nutrients, okra proves beneficial in normalizing blood sugar in the body, helping with diabetes.
  • Helps with Kidney Disease – One study published in the October 2005 Jilin Medical Journal found that regular consumption of okra can help prevent kidney disease. In the study, “those who ate okra daily reduced clinical signs of kidney damage more than those that simply ate a diabetic diet.” This also ties in with diabetes, as nearly 50% of kidney disease cases are caused by diabetes.
  • Supports Colon Health – Okra is full of dietary fiber, which is essential for colon health and digestive health as a whole. The fiber Okra provides helps to clean out the gastrointestinal system, allowing the colon to work at greater levels of efficiency. Additionally, the vitamin A contributes to healthy mucous membranes, helping the digestive tract to operate appropriately.
  • Could Help with Respiratory Issues like Asthma - Okra contains vitamin C, which has been shown to help with respiratory issues like asthma. One study concluded that “the consumption of fruit rich in vitamin C, even at a low level of intake, may reduce wheezing symptoms in childhood, especially among already susceptible individuals.”
  • Promotes Healthy Skin - Vitamin C helps keep the skin looking young and vibrant. The vitamin aids in the growth and repair of bodily tissues, which affects collagen formation and skin pigmentation, and helps to rejuvenate damaged skin. Okra is full of vitamin C. Topical tip: Boil a handful of okra until soft. After letting it cool, mash it, and apply it to your face. After 5 minutes, your skin should feel smooth and rejuvenated.

A Health Benefits of Okra Summary – Okra is Great for:

  • Preventing diabetes
  • Promoting colon health and preventing colon cancer
  • Boosting digestive health
  • Weight management
  • Promoting a healthy pregnancy
  • Maintaining healthy skin
  • Protecting against free radical damage
  • Relief from respiratory issues like asthma, cough, or trouble breathing
  • Promoting eye health
  • Boosting mood
  • Constipation

Growing Okra

Okra is one of many vegetables which produces edible pods. A member of the mallow family, the plant itself is coarse, tall (3 to 6 feet or more in height), and grows in warm seasons. While it is cultivated in areas such as West Africa and South Asia, it is most present in the southern United States and West Indes, The pods produced by okra are used primarily for soups, stews, and are fried or boiled as a vegetable. canning and stews or as a fried or boiled vegetable.

If you are interested in feeling okra health benefits and growing okra yourself, don’t hesitate to start right when you can! Okra is simple to grow during warm seasons, or throughout the year in areas that are more topical. The plant can even be stored in a container.

Here are a few steps to take note of for growing okra yourself:

  • Begin by planting seeds about 3-4 weeks after the last frost of the season. Plant 3-4 seeds together about 0.5-1 inch deep. Be sure to separate each planting by about 6 inches, and separate each row of plants by about 2 feet if you plan on growing a large amount.
  • After planting, water each area gently with water. Don’t water to the point of puddles forming.
  • As the plants break the surface, thin them out and space them about a foot apart as they will widen quite a bit as they mature.
  • Once the seed pods form and grow to 3-4 inches in length, they are safe for picking. Be sure to check back routinely for more picking.

Okra grows best in well-drained and manure-rich soil, and takes about 45-60 days to get harvestable fruits.

Cooking and Preparing Okra

Although mostly known as the main ingredient of Gumbo, a culinary dish, okra can and is used in various recipes. Okra pods can be: eaten raw, steamed, cooked, or fried, or included in stews and soups.

For soups and stews, okra pods are often used since they turn into a gooey mucilage after being cooked. However, the mucilage can be avoided if the pods are prepared with acidic ingredients like lemon juice or vinegar.

Here are some preparation and serving tips:

  • Since some hybrid varieties sprayed with pesticides and insecticides, it is important to thoroughly wash and wipe okras before slicing and preparing. If available, buying organic will bypass the pesticide issue.
  • Trim the top stem end (and tip ends if you like) with a paring knife, then cut or slice the pod as you want.
  • Chop or slice pods for stewing or frying under low heat oil to soften mucilaginous content.
  • Pods can be pickled and preserved.
  • Okra leaves may be cooked or eaten raw in salads.
  • You can team or blanch okras for 3-4 minutes, then drain and dry before slicing it. Add the okra to the dish at the end to minimize moisture contact.
  • You can also shallow dry okra, which is a method used for many Indian dishes.

Don’t wait, experience okra health benefits today.

Additional Sources:

NaturalNews

LiveStrong

Nutrition-and-You.com

 

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Readers Comments (50)

  1. Olivia says:

    Thanks for sharing the infor. To tell the truth, i’ve never heard about Okra. Moreover it has so much benefits. Shame on me, it seems I have to try it.
    cialis

  2. Shawn says:

    Liked the health benefits, interesting and informative. Thank you.

  3. louis says:

    “such as the infamous gumbo dish” I don’t think you mean what you wrote.

  4. Monica says:

    Valuable information!

  5. Glory says:

    This interesting, i ve not heard it before that okro smooth the skin. I will try it today.

  6. Foxmaybe says:

    Does okra maintain the same level of nutrition in dried form? Dried Okra chips, lightly salted, are delicious!

  7. Seth Ofori says:

    I’m most grateful for the article. Since I read it I have been eating okro practically every other day

  8. shabina says:

    Take two pieces of Lady’s Finger (Okra) or known as Bhindi in South Asia and remove/cut both ends of each piece. Also put a small cut in the middle and put these two pieces in glass of water. Cover the glass and keep it at room temperature during night. Early morning, before breakfast simply remove two pieces of Lady’s Finger (Okra) from the glass and drink that water.

    Keep doing it on daily basis. Within two weeks, you will see remarkable results in reduction of your SUGAR.

  9. necie calbang says:

    i love this vegetable, it gives me relief to my constipation..i can eat half a kilo of boiled or steamed, in just one sitting…yummm…yummmm…♡♡♡

  10. Ravina Czerwinski says:

    Your article is right on target. I cultivate a large garden which includes Okra. I eat it daily. You may want to include in this article that it needs to be picked while it’s young and not over three to four inches long, otherwise it’s tough and – if cooked – will be slimy unless you add vinegar. The younger, smaller and more tender Okra won’t be slimy. I eat 7 or 8 “fingers” of Okra daily. I eat it raw, sprayed with olive oil and salted with sea salt. Yum!

    And please make the correction to your statement (such as the infamous Gumbo dish). “Infamous” means being well known for something bad. It’s not the same as being “famous”.

  11. Joe Tomada says:

    Since I prepared the Okra Water every evening and have my wife who is a Diabetic drink the water every morning, I’ve noticed that her blood sugar have never gone up to more than 150, though I am not diabetic I also started to drink Okra Water in the morning.

  12. Kailash Malik says:

    Sir,
    The information on OKRA is really helpful , and one should use it as home remedy.Kindly guide me if Okra is useful for bleeding Piles or not. if so how one should use it. Are there any side effect of using Okra ?
    thanks
    with regards.
    Kailash

  13. julie ann says:

    is it true that okra is the best substitute for coffee?

  14. Mary Cordina says:

    Where do I buy okra in Malta?

  15. Angelina Chilikwela says:

    I was told about the okra drink last week because I am diebetic. So I soak three pieces of okra overnight and I drink the water in the morning, I again put more water to soak the same okra and drink in the evening, that is when I throw away and cut new ones. Am I doing the right thing?

  16. AJ says:

    I wan’t to try okra drink..Thanks a lot of this article..

  17. James Lohr says:

    Interesting to know all the health benefits. I like growing and picking it the more you pick it the more it will produce give some to your neighbor and watch them smile.

  18. Jeffery says:

    Yes, I am nearing 50 and I have never eaten okra, because of the sliminess.

    An local farmer turned me on to coating it with olive oil, sea salt and I been eating it daily. He farms it with no chemicals in fertilizers and pesticides.

    An reading of the health benefits makes it all the more enjoyable.

  19. maxine says:

    I love okra, but never new about the nutritional fact I always use in my soup but fry it and boil it. thank you

  20. Christine says:

    Being from Georgia in the southern US, I’ve eaten okra all of my life. I love it boiled in whole pods. I love it in soups and stews. Traditionally, I would also cut it into about 1/2 inch pieces, coat it in a mixture of flour and cornmeal, spread it onto a baking pan greased with coconut oil, and bake it. It is delicious. Since I’m off of white flour and cornmeal, I’m going to try using a coconut flour and almond flour mixture. I hope it works!

  21. Yolanda Faubel says:

    I have type 2 diabetes, I just found out about some of the benefits of Okra. I’m interested to know how I can cook it so that I may start consuming it…. Very interesting

  22. Rosa Scott says:

    I grew up in SC and love okra. It is very good for weight management. I use it to make soups with lima and black beans.

  23. Theresa Julien says:

    I had some tasty organically grown okra for lunch. I picked them fresh from my trees. But I never knew the nutritional benefits of okra. My mom advised me to eat lots of okra during my prenancies and thank God I did.

  24. BIG D says:

    SCREW OKRA MY MOM DIED CAUSE OF THIS CRAP

  25. pez says:

    i love okra winfrey,she is fab

  26. zep says:

    okra winfrey? fab and quite abundant and could definitely make good gumbo!

  27. katie says:

    I love okra, but the only way I can really access it is frozen where I live. Still, fry them in butter, then add stove top stuffing and a little water and it’s just about the most delicious thing ever.

  28. Hi says:

    This is a typical dish served throughout Africa for centuries, especially in the west of it and still today. Good to know it helps with digestion, went on the atkins which messed around with my system and I was thinking about the benefits of this!

  29. Joshua says:

    I love eating it chopped from the freezer daily with my meals but sadly it doesn’t offer that much nutrition. Vitamin C is in almost everything, Vitamin A is ultra high in squash along with more dietary fiber. Either way I’m going to still love okra and all of its slimey goodness.

  30. joseph silvestre says:

    great food :) i love it! i eat okra every week hehe, this vegetables is my favorite.

  31. joseph silvestre says:

    another ways how to cook very easy, first if you cook a rice in your rice cooker. after the cooking time and you see there have a small water u can put the okra in top of the rice after 5 minutes is done, is okey to eat the okra is cruncy :)

  32. Kim says:

    One of my favorite vegetable.

  33. Kim says:

    One of my favorite vegetables… I didn’t know it had so much benefits.

  34. frank says:

    very delicious…. thanks for nutritional insight

  35. A F Grainger says:

    knew nothing of it’s benefits, need recipe’s Thanks, am also a diabetic with B>P>

  36. Mpara Muwar says:

    Thanks for this article. I love this veg . I just decided to find out its usefulness and stumbled on this article. I will now use it with knowledge.

  37. Bala says:

    HI All
    OKRA (lady’s Finger) is a typical Indian vegetable.
    I am from India. We get okra commonly in every supermarkets.
    salad, stirfry and curry can be made with Okra.
    Its a belief in India that people who eat Okra raw everyday as soon as they get up in the morning , is said to have a very good brain in maths.
    - Bala

  38. Barbara says:

    This article has convinced me to plant a small garden this summer…..and okra will be one of the vegetables. I’ve always loved it!

  39. lori says:

    why did that lady’s mom die from eating okra I went to know?

  40. lori says:

    I think this is good but I want to know why the lady died from eating okra I would like an answer was it the okra that killed or some thing else. it’s the one that reads her mom died from that crap.

  41. Okra many benefits
    Thanks for the article

  42. geronimo1099 says:

    Cut fresh okra in 1/2″ to 3/4″ lengths and place in a SteamWave® cooker with a tbsp. of red wine. Microwave high for 40 seconds. Pour some Greek salad dressing (or other of your choice) over it and enjoy. It will be al dente, like good pasta, not slimy. Add some slice mushrooms, cooked same way, for variety. Add cut carrots, also, except cook the carrots an extra minute before adding the okra and mushrooms.

  43. geronimo1099 says:

    Glory, glory Okra-looooo-yah!
    It keeps it all marching on!

  44. Beatrice Washington says:

    Please e-mail me more information about the health benefits of eating/drinking OKRA.

  45. Beatrice Washington says:

    /Please e-mail me more information about the health benefits of eating/drinking OKRA. Is Okra good for thyroid condition?

    Thank you.

    Beatrice

  46. Kushma says:

    I was told by the Dr. that I am boardline diatetic,thyroid and cholesterol,do you think by drinking okra water will help me.I also want to know if frozen okra will do instead of fresh okra.

    Thnaks,
    Kushma

  47. Tibane Kgatlhe says:

    Wow! What an amaizing plant, I stay in South Africa, I want to start producing it-is the market good down here?

  48. Usha says:

    Okra has helped me it makes my stool soft and pass easily otherwise it use to be hard balls n difficult to pass

  49. Usha says:

    Okra helps my hard stools soft

  50. Rajesh says:

    All informations is stolen from great hindus by evil christains in west ladiesfinger is based on hindu studies




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