Okra Health Benefits

Okra Uses, Health Benefits and Side Effects

Okra a culinary vegetable that has many health benefits..(more)
okra fruit

What is Okra? OKra is a vegetable widely cultivated in tropical and subtropical areas that has a fruit that is fibrous and has a mucus-like juice.....(more)

Okra Preparation Okra seeds are used as coffee substitute and and cooked with other vegetables and meat....(more)

What is Okra

okra plantScientific Name: Abelmoschus esculentus Moench, Hibiscus esculentis Linn

Common Names : Okra, Gumbo, Lady fingers (English), Huang su kui (Chinese), Gombo (Spanish), bhindi (Hindi/Urdu), krachiap mon (Thailand), bamya (Arab Ochro, Okoro, Quimgombo, Quingumbo,    

Okra (Abelmoschus esculentus Moench, Hibiscus esculentis Linn), known in many English-speaking countries as lady's fingers or gumbo, is a flowering plant in the mallow family. Okra is an annual herb that is widely cultivated for its edible green seed pods in tropical, subtropical and warm temperate climates. Okra is a hardy plant that can grow even with less water and in hot conditions.

Okra is somewhat related to cotton and hollyhock. Okra plant can grow up to 9 feet in height with heart shaped leaves that is palmate with 5 to 7 lobes. Okra flowers are large with 5 petals colored white or yellow and sometimes with a reddish-purple base. Okra seed pods are 3 to 10 inches in length about ½ to 1 inch wide. Okra fruit or pod is usually green in color with a new red variety. It is tapering in shape with ribs along its length.

Okra fruit is valued as vegetable, harvested while young and has mucus-like juice that is used to thicken stews (gumbo). Okra is also known for its nutritional value and offers varieties of health benefits.

Okra, Nutrients - Health Benefits

Okra Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy 30 kcal   150 kJ
Carbohydrates 7.6 g
Dietary fiber 3.2 g
Fat g 0.1
Protein 2.0 g
Folate (Vit. B9) 87.8g 22%
Vitamin C  21 mg 35%
Calcium  75 mg 8%
Magnesium  57 mg 15%
Vitamin A (660 IU) Percentages are relative to US recommendations for adults.

Okra Availability, preparation and Use

okraOkra is available in most grocery and vegetable stores. Buy okra fruits that are fresh, young, tender and firm. You will know it is fresh if it can easily be snapped in two. The best okra variety is the green color.

If you have to store okra for later preparation, do not wash as it will become slimy, put in a paper bag and refrigerate – do not freeze. Okra is best consumed within 3 days.

To maintain the best nutritional value of okra, it is suggested not to overcook it.

Okra: Folkloric Health Benefits

  • Decoction of young okra fruit is used to treat inflammation of a mucous membrane, especially of the respiratory tract, accompanied by excessive secretions.
  • Okra juice is used to treat sore throat associated with coughing
  • Decoction of okra leaves, fruits and leaves are used to treat urinary problems, such as painful urination and other genitourinary problems including gonorrhea and syphilis.
  • Okra leaves and roots used as poultice for wounds
  • Okra juice used to treat diarrhea with fever and related abdominal pains
  • Okra juice used to treat skin itchiness and as skin moisturizer.
  • Okra leaves used for inflammation
  • Okra fruits are eaten to treat involuntary discharge of semen
  • Roasted okra seeds are used to promote sweating
  • Okra seeds are used to treat and prevent muscle spasms
  • Decoction of okra is used to treat fever, headache and arthritis.
  • Okra is rich in fiber that absorbs water and improves the bulk of stool. Very effective against diarrhea and constipation.
  • Okra’s mucilage binds with cholesterol and bile acids and expelled through stool from the body.
  • Okra helps in lowering the blood sugar level by blocking the absorption of sugar in the intestinal tract.
  • Okra’s mucilage acts as a lubricant and a laxative for the intestinal tract facilitating the easy passage of waste.
  • Okra is believed to smoothen the skin and prevent the eruption of pimples and acne.

Okra Medicinal and Health Benefits

Anti diabetic Health Benefit of Okra

In a study published in “Journal of Pharmacy & Bioallied Sciences 2011” entitled “Anti diabetic and antihyperlipidemic potential of Abelmoschus esculentus (L.) Moench. In streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats”, suggests that extracts from okra could be developed as a prospective phytomedicinal plant against diabetes mellitus. The results have shown that by administration of okra extracts to diabetic rats, there was a significant reduction  in blood glucose level and the lipid profile level also have normalized.

Antibacterial Activity of Okra

In a study entitled “Glycosylated compounds from okra inhibit adhesion of Helicobacter pylori to human gastric mucosa”, the crude polysaccharide isolated from the fresh juice by ethanolic precipitation showed strong inhibitory effects. Okra fresh juice preparation inhibited the bacterial adhesion almost completely in the gastric mucosa. The anti adhesive qualities of okra were assumed to be due to a combination of glycoproteins and highly acidic sugar compounds making up a complex three-dimensional structure that is fully developed only in the fresh juice of the okra fruit.

Antioxidant Health Benefit of Okra

In a study entitled “Antioxidant and hepatoprotective effect of the roots of Hibiscus esculentus Linn”.of the Department of Pharmacognosy, School of Pharmacy, Masterskill University College of Health Sciences, Selangor, Malaysia, showed that (H.esculentus) okra root ethanol extract posses in vitro free radical scavenging activity which was well comparable with Silymarin. Okra contains flavanoids that may have anti-oxidant and hepatoprotective activities. The present study further suggests that phenolic compounds of the roots H esculentus provide a good source of antioxidants that could offer potential protective effects against lipid oxidation and which could be exploited to make a hepato protective formulation;year=2008;volume=2;issue=4;spage=200;epage=203;aulast=Sunilson

Mucilage of Okra as potential pharmaceutical adjutant.

A study published in “International Journal of PharmTech Research 2009”
Entitled “Evaluation of Abelmoschus Esculentus Mucilage as Suspending Agent in Paracetamol Suspension” suggests that the extracted mucilage of Abelmoschus esculentus is non toxic and has the potential as a suspending agent even at
lower concentration (4%w/v) and can be used as a pharmaceutical adjuvant. In view of these properties, mucilage of Abelmoschus esculentus can be employed as stabilizer and thickener of choice when high viscosity’s desired especially in cosmetic, pharmaceutical and food industries.,%20RAVIKUMAR,%20%20%20%20(658-665).pdf

Okra use cautions and warnings

Okra is a highly nutritious vegetable that is non toxic and safe for consumption even for young children and pregnant women.

However, In a study entitled “Evaluation of The Deleterious Effects of Aqueous Fruit Extract of Abelmoschus Esculentus (Okro Fruit) on Some Male Reproductive Parameters in Sprague Dawley Rats” published in “Journal of Phytology 2009” suggests that the methanol fruit extract of okra significantly reduced the mean weight of testes; this is supported by the histological studies which showed testicular atrophy. There was significant reduction in the weight of the prostate gland. Although not conclusive but it may affect male fertility.


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