The Amazing Health Benefits of Okra

The Amazing Health Benefits of Okra
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Okra, also known as lady’s fingers, bamia, bhindi or gumbo, is a plant of the tropical and warm climates that produces edible green pods. The slightly immature pods are handpicked and prepared in different ways to compliment the traditional diets of many cultures. Okra (Abelmoschus esculentus) is believed to possess an abundance of health benefits, and there is ongoing research into its potential to help manage diabetes.

Get to know this popular vegetable and learn how to choose and use its seedy pods to preserve their rich nutritional value.


10 Health Benefits of Eating Okra

It’s low on calories – bamia pods contain only 30 calories per 100 grams and are often recommended as a part of a weight-loss program.

It contains no saturated fats or cholesterol.

Okra can help stabilize blood sugar levels by slowing its absorption from the intestines – see below for more details on okra consumption and diabetes. There are other 12 foods that control type 2 diabetes.

Okra contains lots of dietary fiber and acts as a natural laxative which can help you to naturally get rid of constipation. The pods are rich in mucilage substance, which is a thick, gluey substance that lubricates the large intestine and helps with elimination. Okra’s fiber also feeds the gut’s beneficial bacteria (probiotics) and helps maintain the pH balance of your digestive tract. Increasing your fiber intake is also one of the 70 habits featured in my e-book 70 Powerful Habits For A Great Health which will guide you how to take positive steps to improve your wellness and overall health.

Okra is rich in vitamin A and other antioxidants – the green pods contain beta-carotene, lutein and xanthine, which together with vitamin A help preserve good vision and keep your skin fresh and healthy. Okra has been connected to cataract prevention and is praised for preventing spots and pimples.

Due to the abundance of antioxidants and fiber, some also connect okra with cancer prevention, especially the prevention of colorectal cancer. There are other steps that you can take to prevent colorectal cancer and there are 14 foods that can protect against cancer development in addition to okra.

Okra is a rich source of vitamin C, which helps with the body’s immunity – okra has been linked to cough and cold prevention. Since vitamin C also act as an anti-inflammatory, okra might be good for reducing the symptoms of asthma and can be used in addition to these 10 natural treatments for asthma.

Okra contains folates – 100 grams of okra provides about 22% of the recommended daily amount. Folates (folic acid) are particularly important in the pre-conception period and during early gestation and help prevent birth defects. Foods with folate are can also help to cleanse your lungs.


Okra is a good source of minerals, including iron, calcium, magnesium (find out if you are magnesium deficient) and manganese.

Okra contains vitamin K, which is important for bone health and plays a major role in blood clotting.

Research on Okra and Diabetes

Particularly interesting is the research into the potential of okra in the treatment of diabetes. The studies have only been done on animal models so far and it’s too early to draw any conclusions, but the preliminary findings are promising. I have already mentioned in great detail how to use okra for treating diabetes and you can also find the summary of the research below:

In 2011, researchers tested okra on rats with diabetes (published in ISRN Pharmaceutics). The pods were soaked in water and one group of rats was given the solution, while the control group received a solution of Na-carboxymethylcellulose (CMC – cellulose gum; a cellulose derivative often used as a thickener). The results showed that lady’s fingers helped reduce the absorption of glucose and lowered blood sugar levels in rats.


Another study on rats was conducted in 2011 and provided similar results (published in the Journal of Pharmacy and Bioallied Sciencies). This time rats were fed powdered okra seeds and peel extracts for 28 days. A significant reduction in blood sugar levels was observed compared to rats that did not receive the powder. The seed extract provided higher reduction in blood sugar than the peels, and it was established that even high doses were safe for rats (a dose of 2,000 milligrams per kilogram was used). In addition, scientists noted that okra helped reduce elevated lipids (fats) and that the lipid profile returned to near normal.

Related article: 13 Early Warning Signs of Diabetes You Shouldn’t Ignore

Some Safety Concerns for People with Diabetes

Scientists observed one important factor when testing okra on diabetic rats. Okra might improve glycemic control, but it should not be taken together with metformin hydrochloride as it reduces the drug’s absorption. Metformin is taken by many people with diabetes to keep their sugar levels under control, so it’s important not to interfere with its function until more conclusive studies are performed.

Moreover, if you have diabetes and are taking metformin, eating high amounts of okra might increase your sugar levels, so you need to keep an eye on that and discuss it with your medical team.

How to Use Okra

The fibrous, 5 to 15 centimeters long fruits are best when eaten fresh and slightly immature. If you buy pods that have been left on the plant for too long, they become woody and don’t taste nice. Avoid those that look sunken or dry and have discolored spots or cuts.


If you can, eat them on the day of purchase. They can also be stored in the refrigerator for one to two days.

Wash the pods well before you use them, as they might have been exposed to pesticides and chemicals. Wash them well with water and fruit and vegetable soap like this one. Or you can remove pesticides from your produce by washing them in a natural mixture which is mentioned in my post on How to Easily Remove Pesticides From Your Fruits and Vegetables.

Some prefer to trim the top stem end and the tip, while others use the whole pod. You may slice it as you desire and include it in your favorite African, Middle-Eastern, Caribbean or Asian dish.

Okra – Serving Suggestions

  • The pods are great for thickening dishes, as they become gooey when cooked. They are delicious cooked in soups with some fish, which is a Caribbean take on okra.
  • For a bit of an Egyptian touch, prepare okra in a thick stew of lamb or beef. This delicacy is actually known as bamia or bamiya.
  • If you want to reduce the vegetable’s mucilage and use it in drier dishes, add some lemon juice (which can be used as a natural medicine).
  • Chopped or sliced pods can be fried as fritters and then mixed with other vegetables or meat.
  • For a healthy version, simply steam the pods (whole or cut) and enjoy them as a side dish with rice and vegetables or meat. Steaming is one of the best cooking methods to keep the vitamins in food.
  • The pods can also be pickled and preserved in the same way you pickle your other vegetables.
  • If you happen to come across bamia’s leaves, you can eat those as well. They can be consumed raw in salads or cooked in soups and stews.

Other healthy fruits and vegetables you should add to your diet are:

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18 Responses to The Amazing Health Benefits of Okra

  1. Joe varghese says:

    Informative to health protection

  2. Julie says:

    Slice okra about 1/3 inch thick. Put in glass baking dish. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, sprinkle with fresh ground black pepper and coarse kosher salt. Stir well. Get into as much of a single layer as possible. Roast at 425 degrees until browned and crispy, about 20-30 mins. Can stir halfway. Great low carb way to have “fried okra.” We eat it out of our garden this way.

  3. Mrs.Afzu says:

    but it inhibits iodine absorption. Is’nt it????

    • Jenny says:

      I couldn’t find information that okra interferes with iodine absorption like other goitrogenic foods. However I’ve found that okra contains oxalate. Too much oxalate may cause kidney stones in some people and can affect the absorption of certain nutrients such as calcium. If you have any special condition, it’s always a good idea to consult with your doctor about foods that should be restricted in your diet.

  4. aster says:

    okra water is great…is done by cutting both ends, soak okra in glass of water overnight and drink before breakfast.

  5. RENE A SALIMBOT says:

    for me okra good to eat in fresh

  6. emmy says:

    this cant be true, especially the 5th point(benefits of okra) my grandmum has be struggling with cataract for as long as i can remember meanwhile she has been eating okra all her life almost everyweek. and i also have been eating okra all my life but never free from pimples since i was 12 years old. am in my late 20s now.

    • Jenny says:

      There are many reasons for having cataract, such as sun exposure, medical conditions such as diabetes and aging. There are also many reasons for having pimples. Okra cannot solve everything for every person.

  7. Diane young says:

    How can okra be prepared like the packages of dried okra that is so popular in the grocery stores now? I dehydrated a batch, but does not taste any where near the same. Does anyone know the seasoning they use?

  8. Kristie Bradley says:

    They forgot the American South. We eat it in gumbo, goulash, and just plain fried in flour. It’s a delicious side for fried chicken and biscuits. As long as you don’t drown it in oil when you fry it it can be just as good for you that way.

  9. Rudolf Pawar says:

    In India we consume alot of okra. We even make it with mince and meat. I was searching for good informative article and found the benefits in detail over here.

  10. Jeanne says:

    it is said that okra water is great…is done by cutting both ends, soak okra in glass of water overnight and drink before breakfast can cure diabetes .
    my question is for how long can you take this in order to be cured diabetes.
    tank you in advance for your good response

    • Jenny Hills says:

      It cannot “cure” diabetes, and it doesn’t say in the article that is can cure it, but it can reduce blood sugar levels as was shown in the research. If you have diabetes and you want to control your blood sugar levels, then it should be consumed regularly.

  11. Shannon says:

    I take Metformin but I love boiled okra in my beans. Oh well, I’m gonna eat it anyway. I don’t eat it often enough to make too much of an impact.

  12. Ambulatist says:

    Okra protects you from pimples and maintains smooth and beautiful skin. Maybe now we can understand the reason why Cleopatra loved it.

  13. says:

    There are some healthy recipes that can help in the control of the disease of diabetes and even a recipe for okra coffee!

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