Okra, often overlooked in favour of more familiar vegetables – and sometimes disliked for its mushy texture (but we blame that misconception on poor cooking methods!) – is a nutritional powerhouse with some surprising advantages that set it apart from the crowd. Let’s take a look at what’s so special about this humble veggie, plus we’ll be sharing a free recipe that we guarantee will convert you.
Okra offers an array of essential nutrients, and is particularly rich in vitamin C, vitamin K, and folate. It also provides a decent amount of dietary fibre, which supports digestive health, making it a valuable addition to a balanced diet.
Before we dive into the major benefits of okra, let’s get a rundown of its nutritional profile – this is what you’ll get in 100 grams:
- Calories: 33 kcal
- Carbohydrates: 7.5 grams
- Protein: 1.9 grams
- Fat: 0.2 grams
- Dietary Fibre: 3.2 grams
- Vitamin C: 23 mg (38% of the daily recommended intake)
- Vitamin A: 375 IU (12% of the daily recommended intake)
- Vitamin K: 31.3 µg (39% of the daily recommended intake)
- Folate (Vitamin B9): 88 µg (22% of the daily recommended intake)
- Calcium: 82 mg (8% of the daily recommended intake)
- Magnesium: 57 mg (14% of the daily recommended intake)
- Potassium: 299 mg (9% of the daily recommended intake)
- Iron: 0.62 mg (3% of the daily recommended intake)
- Manganese: 0.8 mg (41% of the daily recommended intake)
- Copper: 0.094 mg (5% of the daily recommended intake)
- Thiamin (Vitamin B1): 0.2 mg (13% of the daily recommended intake)
- Vitamin B6: 0.215 mg (11% of the daily recommended intake)
- Niacin (Vitamin B3): 1.0 mg (5% of the daily recommended intake)
Wow – those number speak for themselves! But we’re still going to take you through some of the impressive benefits unique to this tasty veggie.
A Natural Digestive Aid
Okra is renowned for its mucilage, a slimy substance found inside the pods. While the sliminess might not sound appealing, it's a natural mucilaginous agent that can soothe and lubricate the digestive tract. This makes okra an excellent remedy for issues like gastritis and acid reflux. The mucilage also binds to cholesterol and toxins, aiding their removal from the body.
Joint Pain Relief
Okra is a source of potent anti-inflammatory compounds, which may provide relief to those with joint pain and arthritis. The high vitamin C content in okra contributes to this anti-inflammatory effect and supports overall joint health.
Jealous of Clark Kent’s x-ray vision? Get the next best thing with eye health-boosting nutrients like vitamin A and antioxidants like lutein and zeaxanthin. These compounds are known to support vision, reduce the risk of eye diseases, and protect against age-related macular degeneration.
The leaves of the okra plant have been used traditionally to alleviate respiratory problems. They can be prepared as a herbal infusion to help relieve symptoms of bronchitis, asthma, and other respiratory conditions.
Okra is an excellent natural detoxifier. The fibre and antioxidants in okra help cleanse the blood and improve circulation. The detoxifying properties may contribute to healthier, clearer skin and reduced acne.
While okra's unique texture and taste might take some getting used to, these unusual benefits make it a vegetable worth incorporating into your diet. Whether you decide to enjoy it in gumbo, sauté it with spices, or experiment with pickling, don't be quick to dismiss okra. It might just surprise you with its nutritional value and health-boosting properties.
Ready to try it out? Give our okra curry recipe a go!
- 250 grams of fresh okra (washed, trimmed, and cut into 1-inch pieces)
- 1 large onion (finely chopped)
- 2 tomatoes (chopped)
- 2 cloves of garlic (minced)
- 1-inch piece of fresh ginger (grated)
- 2 green chilies (sliced, adjust to your spice preference)
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1/2 teaspoon red chili powder (adjust to your spice preference)
- 1 teaspoon garam masala
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Salt to taste
- Fresh coriander leaves for garnish
- 2 cups basmati rice, cooked, to serve
- Heat the oil in a pan over medium heat. Add the cumin seeds and let them sizzle for a few seconds.
- Add the finely chopped onions and sauté until they turn translucent and start to brown.
- Stir in the minced garlic and grated ginger. Sauté for another minute or until the raw smell disappears.
- Add the chopped tomatoes and cook until they turn soft and the oil starts to separate.
- Now, add the ground coriander, ground turmeric, red chili powder, and salt. Mix well and cook for a couple of minutes.
- Add the okra pieces and sliced green chilies. Mix gently, ensuring that the okra is coated with the spice mixture.
- Reduce the heat to low, cover the pan with a lid, and let the okra cook for about 10-15 minutes. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking. Okra should become tender and slightly crisp.
- Once the okra is cooked, add the garam masala and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Adjust salt and spice levels as needed.
- Garnish with fresh coriander leaves.
- Serve with rice.
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