6 benefits of okra: how to make it and what it’s for

Do you like okra? This is a vegetable that some people turn up their noses about, mainly because of the “drool” it releases during cooking, but it is very tasty and stands out for having few calories and being rich in fiber.

Thanks to this composition, consumption of the vegetable lowers cholesterol , improves intestinal function , strengthens the immune system and protects the heart.

The vegetable also has the advantage of being quite versatile, as it can be eaten raw, cooked or sautéed .

Nutritionist and director of the Brazilian Society of Food and Nutrition (SBAN), Sueli Longo, explained the main benefits of this vegetable and also the best way to eat it.

Why Eat Okra: 6 Benefits for Your Health

According to the nutritionist, in each portion of cooked okra you can find 1.94 grams of carbohydrates and 1.32 grams of protein, two essential nutrients for the maintenance of the body.

The professional also highlighted that the vegetable is a great source of minerals, such as: calcium, phosphorus, potassium, vitamins A and C and dietary fiber, with 3.13 g of this nutrient per 100 gram serving.

1. Protects against cardiovascular disease

Okra has a cardioprotective effect and this derives from the presence of flavonoids, compounds responsible for giving the vibrant color of vegetables.

They have the ability to help lower cholesterol and improve blood circulation. In this way, they eliminate some of the main risk factors for cardiovascular disease. (1)

]Okra seeds are also a source of fatty acids, especially omega 3, which are important protective agents for heart health . (2)  They have antithrombotic, antiarrhythmic properties and reduce circulating lipids in the blood. (3)

Amazing, isn’t it? But stay tuned and keep a healthy diet, ok? No more eating pounds of okra hoping for better health and eating a diet rich in fats and processed foods.

2. Strengthens immunity

Another reason why okra should be added to the diet is that the vegetable can give a boost to the body’s defenses against disease .

It is rich in compounds that stimulate the production of the main defense cells and also speed up their maturation time. In other words, it makes them ready faster. (4)

Sueli further explained that okra has antioxidant properties . This means that it can prevent free radicals from circulating through the body and causing the breakdown of healthy cells, making the body more susceptible to disease.

3. Prevents intestinal problems

“ Dietary fiber is one of the highlights of the vegetable,” said Sueli. This scenario is great for gut health.

Fiber takes in a lot of water and is not digested in the stomach. In this way, they pass practically whole to the intestine and help to hydrate the feces, thus preventing them from drying out and, consequently, problems such as constipation .

They also favor the proliferation of bacteria that are good for the body, preventing problems such as diarrhea and intestinal inflammation. (5)

4. Helps protect against cancer

Sueli also highlighted that okra has an anti-carcinogenic effect, that is, to prevent some types of cancer cells from starting to multiply, which may be associated with the plant’s anti-inflammatory and antioxidant potential.

Understand better:

Some compounds found in the plant can prevent the disorderly multiplication of cells. This action not only protects against the onset of cancer, it helps with treatment and can prevent the disease from spreading to other parts. Already Antioxidants prevent damage to cells , which helps to protect against this disease. (4)

5. Great for a healthy pregnancy

Okra should be on the menu of future moms, as it is rich in some B and C complex vitamins.

The correct intake of these nutrients helps the baby’s growth , prevents developmental problems and stimulates brain development, which occurs in the first trimester of pregnancy. (1)

6. Ideal for those who want to lose weight

In addition to having a low caloric value, the fibers found in it take up a lot of space in the stomach, as they expand when they come into contact with water, increasing satiety and decreasing food consumption throughout the day.

Attention: Just eating okra will not help you reach your ideal weight. It is necessary to adhere to a healthier diet and exercise regularly.

Nutritional table

100 gram servingAmount per serving
Energetic value30 Kcal
Protein1,9 g
Cholesterol –
Carbohydrate6,4 g
Fiber4,6 g
Calcium112 mg
Match56 mg
Ferro0,4 mg
Sodium 1 mg
Potassium249 mg
C vitamin5,6 mg
Magnesium0,46 mg

* Daily reference values ​​based on a 2000kcal or 8400kj diet. Your daily values ​​can be higher or lower depending on your energy needs. Data taken from TACO, revised and expanded edition. (7)

What is the best way to eat okra?

The nutrition professional explained that the best way to consume okra is in the raw version , because “when the fruits are small (less than 5 centimeters in length), young and newly picked, this method [of consumption] better preserves its properties nutritional”.

Sueli also highlighted that “the cooking process minimally reduces the content of some nutrients”.

However, eating raw okra can make a lot of people hesitant, as it drools thickly when handled. While it is not toxic, some people choose to remove it. ” M anter or take a ‘baba’ okra is consumer taste criteria. In some typical dishes, it is precisely the flavor that differentiates them”, emphasized Sueli.

Tip!

Eat the whole vegetable, as it is only after cutting that the “drool” is released.

How to get rid of the drool?

Soak the vegetable in water with lemon juice and then cook for a few minutes. (6)  After that it can be cut with ease.

Revenues

raw okra salad

Ingredients 

  • 200 grams of small, fresh okra
  • 1 medium  onion
  • 1 cup of black olive
  • 1 small  pepper
  • 150 grams of ricotta
  • Vinegar
  • Olive oil
  • ½ lemon
  • Salt to taste.

Preparation mode

Leave the okra to soak for 10 minutes in water with lemon and then rinse if you want to get rid of the “drool” it releases. After that, cut everything into slices, add the onion and the chopped pepper, the ricotta, the olive and season with the vinegar, oil and salt.

If the fruits are small and fresh you can use them whole in the recipe. In this way, it manages to keep the nutritional properties intact.

Okra sautéed with pumpkin

Ingredients 

  • 100 grams of chopped okra
  • ½ caboti pumpkin
  • 2 tablespoons of oil
  • 1 tablespoon of sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of saffron
  • 1 medium onion
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 2 cups of vegetable broth
  • Salt and pepper to taste.

Preparation mode

Saute the garlic, onion and pumpkin over medium heat for a few minutes. Then add sugar, salt, half the vegetable stock and saffron and cook for another 10 minutes.

After this time, add the okra, the rest of the vegetable stock, the pepper and cook for another 5 minutes. After that time, it is ready to serve.

grilled okra

Ingredients 

  • 300 grams of okra
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • salt and pepper
  • Olive oil.

Preparation mode

The first step is to wash the okras and dry them with a dish towel or paper towel. Then cut them all in half, following the length, and set aside. Peel the garlic cloves and sauté them in the oil. Add the okra, season with salt and pepper, wait for it to brown and that’s it.  Pretty easy, isn’t it?

Chicken with okra

Ingredients 

  • 400 grams of chicken
  • ½ lemon
  • ½ onion
  • ½ tomato
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • ½ pepper
  • 100 grams of okra
  • Olive oil
  • 2 liters and ½  of water
  • Seasoning salt, black pepper and cumin.

Preparation mode

You should start by seasoning the chicken with salt, pepper and cumin and then sautéing over medium heat. When browning, add garlic and onion and cook for a few more minutes. Add water and cook over low heat for 30 minutes.

While the chicken cooks, cut the okra into slices and soak in lemon for 10 minutes. Discard the water and wash the vegetable well. The last step is to saute the okra in olive oil and add it to the chicken and the dish is finished.

How to choose the best okra?

You’ve seen the main benefits and incredible recipes with okra here, but before any preparation, you need to choose the vegetable you’re going to take home.

The vegetable, which is the fruit of the Abelmoschus Esculentus species , must have a very intense green color, firm and without stains. In addition, it is important that it is not too big, longer than 12 centimeters, as it is usually harder.

The indication is to eat quickly, as it spoils quickly and becomes dark if frozen. (6)

Ellie Lauderdale

My name is Ellie Lauderdale, MD and I am USA based professional Nutritionist .

I am a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and board certified specialist in sports dietetics who is trained in integrative medicine. I have worked with hundreds of clients, from those suffering with chronic disease to professional and olympian athletes. My goal is to help optimize you from the inside so that you can feel, perform, and look your best on the outside.

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