The Health Benefits of Okra

Okra

By Contributor Stephanie Young

Okra is a versatile, tasty nutritional powerhouse

Ever since I started gardening two years ago, I have become completely enamored with okra. Yes, okra. Strange, I know.

I’d eaten it fried and stewed in South Carolina, but never fully embraced it until I grew it myself here in Kansas.

Since then I have eaten it raw, fried it, stewed it with peppers, squash, onions and tomatoes, sautéed it in olive oil, pickled it and put it in gumbo. I’ve seen the hearty plants flourish when others died from drought, heat, hail or cold. It has beautiful pale flowers and is just an all-around wonderful thing to grow. Even my picky 8-year-old has tried it willingly!

Turns out, it’s also really good for you.

I recently did a little research and here’s what I learned:

  • According to About.com, okra is low in calories and high in calcium, fiber, iron, manganese, magnesium, niacin, phosphorus, potassium, thiamin, vitamins A, B6, C, and zinc.
  • The Kansas City Star reports okra helps maintain blood sugar levels, regulate the body’s absorption in the small intestine, has probiotics, and both insoluble and soluble fiber.
  • Okra, in the same family as hibiscus, can get to 6 feet tall, according to an article at the University of Illinois Extension. It is also high in folic acid.
  • In this Florida Times Union article, a nutrition professor addresses myths and facts, including nutritional benefits, cooking, preparation and storage.
  • Wikipedia reports okra is also related to cotton and cocoa, and dubs it “among the most heat- and drought-tolerant vegetable species in the world.” It is also high in antioxidants.
  • According to health website Livestrong.com, okra is low-energy-dense and can help with weight loss or maintenance. It also helps lower cholesterol and reduces risk of heart disease.
  • Livestrong.com touts okra as a low glycemic index food, helpful to diabetics.
  • In 2011, the New York Time posted this roasted okra recipe by Martha Rose Shulman, author of “The Very Best Recipes for Health.”
Okra

Cut and ready to freeze!

If you’ve never tried okra, give it a chance! If you think you don’t like it, give it a second chance! It’s so versatile, with a little experimenting, I’ll bet you can find a way of cooking it that you enjoy.

Stephanie Young lives in a small Kansas town where she raises her 8-year-old boy, works with her husband in the family business and writes the blog, From the Burbs to the Boonies.

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Angela V

Founder and Writer at One Smiley Monkey blog
Hi, my name is Angela and I am a Canadian mom living in Vancouver with my wonderful husband and two happy little boys. I am the founder and primary contributor behind One Smiley Monkey. Welcome to my blog!
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40 responses to “The Health Benefits of Okra”

  1. Anju — January 20, 2014 @ 12:39 pm (#)

    Awesome!

    Reply

  2. Andrea L — January 20, 2014 @ 1:50 pm (#)

    Thanks for sharing! Looking forward to getting some Okra next time I go grocery shopping!

    Reply

  3. loriag — January 21, 2014 @ 4:29 am (#)

    I have not tried okra, I will look for it and give it a go.

    Reply

  4. Vesper Meikle — January 21, 2014 @ 8:37 am (#)

    I admit it, I hate this vegetable. I can’t even eat them in currys – which is where I was introduced to them

    Reply

  5. Wanda Bergman — January 21, 2014 @ 8:50 am (#)

    I love okra! It takes a bit of getting used to, but if it’s cooked properly, it’s delicious!

    Reply

  6. Doreen Lamoureux — January 21, 2014 @ 11:37 am (#)

    Wow, wonder if I can grow it in northern Ontario. I am going to try.

    Reply

  7. kristen visser — January 25, 2014 @ 6:54 am (#)

    i have not tried or heard of Okra but ill definitely keep my eyes out for it !

    Reply

  8. Stephanie LaPlante — January 25, 2014 @ 3:55 pm (#)

    I’ve never heard of Okra before but I definitely want to try it.

    Reply

  9. sarah sar — January 26, 2014 @ 2:41 am (#)

    Yes, i agree with this! I used to hate okra as a kid but now I absolutely love it.

    Reply

  10. amy lovell — January 27, 2014 @ 7:30 am (#)

    I love OKRA ! Especially in a nice Gumbo. Amazing how good it is for you. Did not know that.

    Reply

  11. Lynda Cook — January 30, 2014 @ 10:09 am (#)

    never ever tried it, think I’m to scared to try lol

    Reply

  12. MrDisco — January 30, 2014 @ 7:58 pm (#)

    it’s like the miracle veggie

    Reply

  13. mrdisco — February 4, 2014 @ 1:25 pm (#)

    Bursting with greens means bursting with vitamis

    Reply

  14. Rajbinder Kaur — February 6, 2014 @ 12:49 pm (#)

    My mom uses okra to make an Indian dish, tastes lovely dipped in plain yogurt!

    Reply

  15. James Brown — February 8, 2014 @ 9:23 pm (#)

    Definitely going to try this more often

    Reply

  16. Laurie P — February 10, 2014 @ 6:27 am (#)

    I’ve never tried Okra, nor have I even read about it, so thanks for the great read, very informative! Next time I do a stew, I’ll have to throw in some Okra to try out.

    Reply

  17. Aliya D. — February 22, 2014 @ 6:36 am (#)

    This is the first time I’ve seen a post on okra… Personally, there are only two ways I will eat it (in a Jambalaya or a dry Indian curry recipe) and am not a fan, but I appreciate all the information above! Thanks!

    Reply

  18. Erica — March 5, 2014 @ 9:55 pm (#)

    I’ve always loved Okra!

    Reply

  19. Nena Sinclair — March 9, 2014 @ 4:57 am (#)

    I love veggies, but I’ve never tried okra. Come to think of it, I don’t even think I’ve seen it in the stores here, but I’ll have to make a point of looking!

    Reply

  20. Rick F — April 3, 2014 @ 6:09 pm (#)

    have tried ti, didn’t like it.

    Reply

  21. Darlene W — April 22, 2014 @ 3:37 pm (#)

    I always use it when making soup

    Reply

  22. Jeannie — May 4, 2014 @ 8:23 am (#)

    I have never tried Okra, but have seen it in the supermarket. I think it’s time to get adventurous and give it a try.

    Reply

  23. Wanda Tracey — May 4, 2014 @ 4:15 pm (#)

    I was impressed with all the health benefits of eating okra.I really like that it helps with lowering cholesterol and heart disease.This was an awesome article to read.Thanks for posting it.

    Reply

  24. Jon T — May 12, 2014 @ 7:34 am (#)

    I have never tried cooking with Okra before, but after reading this I will have to give it a try!

    Reply

  25. Melinda L. — May 13, 2014 @ 11:52 am (#)

    I like okra. We usually just cook it and drizzle some oyster sauce.

    Reply

  26. Laurie P — May 20, 2014 @ 9:39 am (#)

    Well ya got me curious about Okra… I’ll have to toss some into whatever I’m cooking to see how it goes.

    Reply

  27. kathy downey — August 26, 2014 @ 10:18 am (#)

    have never tried Okra…will look for it next shopping day

    Reply

  28. Darlene+W — September 19, 2014 @ 11:13 am (#)

    My grandmother would put this in all her soups and stews

    Reply

  29. Anne+Taylor — October 24, 2014 @ 10:39 am (#)

    My husband’s grandmother made us stewed okra and I was hooked! We love it!

    Reply

  30. Jenn Erin — November 3, 2014 @ 3:28 pm (#)

    I’ve never had these before but I love how healthy they are! I mean, just the fact that it helps maintain blood sugar levels is very intriguing because I have relatives with sugar issues.

    Reply

  31. kathy+downey — November 15, 2014 @ 7:40 am (#)

    Thanks I never knew they were so healthy

    Reply

  32. n.cassandra smith — November 28, 2014 @ 7:52 pm (#)

    I’ve never tried okra and I’m not even sure I’ve ever seen it in store. Every time I’ve seen it on cooking shows it looks slimy 🙁 Might have to keep an eye out if it is really healthy for you.

    Reply

  33. kathy+downey — December 8, 2014 @ 6:47 am (#)

    Still not seen these in store in my area

    Reply

  34. kathy downey — February 13, 2015 @ 7:46 am (#)

    Still not available in my area but I asked the manager if many they could bring some in for people to try,said he will try

    Reply

  35. Theresa Hover — February 25, 2015 @ 1:45 pm (#)

    I’ve never tried Okra, what does it taste like? Zucchini? I like to have veggies in my garden that are easy to grow, so maybe I should pick up some Okra and see if we would like it.

    Reply

  36. kathy downey — March 30, 2015 @ 5:36 am (#)

    On the weekend is the first time |I have seen okra in the store here

    Reply

  37. kathy downey — June 2, 2015 @ 10:03 am (#)

    I tried it in soup over the weekend,thanks

    Reply

  38. kathy downey — October 25, 2015 @ 12:00 pm (#)

    It has to grow on you,took a bit to get a taste for it

    Reply

  39. Elizabeth Matthiesen — November 6, 2015 @ 6:06 pm (#)

    I’ve never tried okra but I have seen it in the stores and my son sometimes uses it when he cooks.

    Reply

  40. DARLENE W — September 7, 2016 @ 11:15 am (#)

    years ago this was a staple but I don’t see it being used much now

    Reply

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