Okra – Nutritional value and Health benefits

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Okra is commonly called as lady’s finger or bhindi. The botanical name of the lady’s finger is Abelmoschus esculentus. The vegetable belongs to the Malvaceae family.

Okra cultivation was first cultivated in Ethiopia and Egypt during the 12th century. Initially, it was used as a thickening agent due to the slimy texture of the okra, in soups and sauces. It was also used as a sweetening agent in frozen and baked foods.

The outer layer of the vegetable will be green, and the inside will be filled with seeds. The vegetable got its name as it resembles a long slender tube-like structure.


The okra vegetable grows in hot and humid regions. Okra plays a major role in Indian kitchens. Most people love okra for its slimy structure, and some dislike it for the same reason.

Okra goes well with all types of foods. It can be used as subji’s for your favourite chapatis and rotis. It can be a perfect side dish for curd rice. It can also be roasted or shallow fried in less oil to give a crunchy punch to your dish.

Apart from the taste, the vegetable is nutrient-dense. The nutritional value of the vegetable is discussed further.

Nutritional value of okra

Okra is a dietary constituent rather than a staple food. According to data published in NCBI, titled “Okra (Abelmoschus Esculentus) as a Potential Dietary Medicine with Nutraceutical Importance for Sustainable Health Applications”, stated that consuming okra increases its bioavailability and acts as a therapeutic agent against many chronic diseases.

Further, it also stated that young okra pods have moisturising and diuretic properties. The seeds of the okra plant have fungicidal and anticancer properties.

Rich in nutrients

According to USDA, one hundred grams of okra contain about 1.9 grams of protein and 33 joules of calories.

Linoleic acid is a representative of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA). Linoleic acid is the dominant content of okra seeds.

Okra also contains other dietary constituents like amino acids and proteins that constitute human growth. It is very good for growing children.

It also contains important essential amino acids like lysine and tryptophan, which helps in growth and metabolism. The mucilage of okra is rich in carbohydrates.

The young pods contain polysaccharides when compared to the matured ones. It also contains the equivalent amount of galactose and galacturonic acid with 22% of rhamnose.

Consuming young okra pods have reported to reduce the cholesterol levels. Research published in NCBI stated that okra pods aged up to 7 days contain the maximum concentration of nutrients.

Contains beneficial antioxidants

The okra pods contain natural antioxidants. Scientists predict that the antioxidant efficacy of okra may be due to the presence of about 25% of polyphenols.

The polyphenols from the immature okra pods constitute to the antioxidant activity, which helps to lower the MDA (mean serum level) level and increases the SOD (superoxide dismutase) and glutathione peroxidase (GSH-Px) levels.

May lower heart disease risk

Okra contains high fibre, which helps reduce the bad cholesterol levels in the blood and promotes good cholesterol in the blood. Lady’s finger is rich in antioxidants like vitamin C, which reduces the risk of stroke and other heart-related diseases.

The mucilage in okra is used in the process of plasma replacement and blood volume expansion. The phytochemical substances that support the reduction of the risk of cardiovascular diseases are oligomeric catechin and linoleic acid.

May have anticancer properties

Despite advances in the medical field, cancer is one of the leading causes of death globally. The need for cancer drugs is increasing as the cancerous cells have become resistant to some cancer drugs.

According to recent research, it stated that flowers of okra plants have a significant antitumor effect on colorectal malignancy in both in-vitro and in-vivo studies. It also exerts a strong antioxidant potency with substantial antiproliferative effects on tumour growth.

The antiproliferative effect of okra flowers induced the activation of p53, which ceases the mitochondrial functions within colorectal tumour cells, ultimately resulting in apoptosis and restraining autophagy.

Cell studies were carried out with the okra seeds. The seeds showed flavonoid constituent and cytotoxic effects on human breast cancer cells. These results confirmed that okra has the isoquercitrin flavonoid which, promotes the apoptosis of cancerous cells.

May lower blood sugar

The occurrence of diabetes in the population has increased, and to lower the blood glucose level okra can be very much helpful.

The parts of the okra plants have been reported to reduce hyperglycemic levels. The mucilage of okra has antidiabetic effects. The ethanolic and aqueous extracts of okra pods have been reported to have low glucose levels.

Beneficial for pregnant women

Okra contains phenolic compounds like vitamin B1, vitamin B2 and vitamin C and traces of other nutrients like calcium, folic acid and fibre.

Folate in okra helps prevent miscarriage in pregnant women. Folate in okra helps prevent miscarriage in pregnant women. They help form the neural tube of the foetus and prevent these tubes from being damaged.

Okra contains a good source of folate so pregnant women can benefit a lot from this vegetable. One cup of okra provides 15% of daily nutrient needs.

Easy to add to your diet

Okra served with chappathi

Okra can be added to your diet easily. Okra goes well with all the soups and stews. It can be roasted and consumed to satisfy your cravings.

Okra should be cleaned and then cooked. It can also be dry roasted and ground the pods to consume as a substitute for caffeine beverages.

Cooked okra will not have any slimy texture. It will be more palatable. It can be cooked dry to have a perfect side dish for dosa, chapati and pooris.

Add some oil, curry leaves, red chillies and some masala of your taste. One small onion can be added if you wish. Add the finely chopped okra and sauté until the slimy texture goes off. Your tasty okra is ready to eat.

May Reduce Breast Cancer Risk

Okra contains anticancer activity. To an extent, okra can prevent the activity and growth of breast cancer cells. Research was conducted and published in NCBI with okra in the human breast cancer cell line.

It stated that okra could effectively inhibit the growth and proliferation of breast cancer cells by up to 63% and promotes apoptosis. It also stated that the okra could be a potential therapeutic agent to fight against cancer cells.

However, more research required to confirm the quantity of the vegetable and the dosage of the vegetable to be consumed.

Health benefits of okra

Dietary fibre

Okra is rich in dietary fibre, which helps to keep you full for a long time.  You can replace okra with some unhealthy deep-fried snacks.

Okra can be air-fried or shallow fried to give a crunchy taste if you want to replace popcorn with some crunchy snack. Okra can be the best replacement.

The high fibre content in okra will aid your digestion and also will be easy on your digestive tract. Okra will also keep a check on your weight as they are low in calories.

May help lower cholesterol

Okra contains pectin, which helps to reduce bad cholesterol levels. Okra contains antioxidants that reduce cholesterol levels.

Okra contains polyphenols which act as an anti-inflammatory agent and protects the heart from harmful inflammation.

Anti-stress effects

Stress is one of the reasons for various diseases. There are many research conducted throughout the world to combat stress. Consuming okra can reduce stress levels.

Vegetables like okra have natural scavenging activity and are safe compared to synthetic antidepressants and anti-stress tablets.

According to data published in NCBI, stress-induced psychiatric disorders like depression and anxiety have been reduced by consumption. However, the consumption quantity must be increased to have such effects.

Anti-fatigue benefit

Fatigue is the inability to initiating voluntary movement or activities. The mucilaginous vegetable is used to treat gastritis and fatigue. Okra contains antidiabetic, antioxidant, neuroprotective and anti-fatigue properties.

Okra contains polysaccharides, flavonoids and polyphenols. These nutrients effectively act as anti-fatigue agents and combat many other diseases.

Fight Cancer

Okra effectively fights cancer. The vegetable contains powerful antioxidants like vitamin A and C and polyphenols, which helps to effectively fight cancer.

Okra helps support healthy immune function

The antioxidants in okra help to regulate immune function. The vitamin C in okra supports the immune system, and the vitamin A fights free radicals that can damage the cells.

Support heart and brain health

Okra is loaded with nutrients that help protect you from many diseases. The polyphenols in okra support heart and brain health. It also reduces bad cholesterol levels.


According to USDA, 100 grams of raw okra contains the following nutrients.

NutrientNutritional value
Dietary fibre3.2g
Potassium K299mg


Okra is a nutrient-dense vegetable. We have to include okra in our diet to ensure health benefits. However, for some people, okra should be consumed in low quantities. If you have other medical conditions consult your doctor before consuming.


How long does it take okra to grow?

Okra usually takes two months to mature and produce flowers. After 65 days, the okra will be produced.

How many times can you harvest okra?

From the date of flowering, okra takes about four days to be produced. Harvest the vegetable the other day to have maximum harvests.

Does okra need water every day?

Okra can be watered weekly once. But in humid regions, it should be watered daily.

How do I care for okra?

Okra should be watered daily in the morning. If the plant becomes dry, you can water it often. Space the seedlings three inches apart to have enough space between the seedlings.


The Information including but not limited to text, graphics, images and other material contained on this blog are intended for education and awareness only. No material on this blog is intended to be a substitute for professional medical help including diagnosis or treatment. It is always advisable to consult medical professional before relying on the content. Neither the Author nor Star Health and Allied Insurance Co. Ltd accepts any responsibility for any potential risk to any visitor/reader.

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