Health benefits of Okra, how to prepare it

Health: Okra, also known as “lady’s finger,” is a flowering plant with edible seed pods.

It’s cultivated in warm and tropical climates, such as Africa and South Asia. Despite its somewhat slimy texture when cooked, okra is packed with nutrition and offers several health benefits.

Here are some of the key advantages:

  1. Rich in Nutrients:
    • One cup (100 grams) of raw okra contains:
      • Calories: 33
      • Carbs: 7 grams
      • Protein: 2 grams
      • Fiber: 3 grams
      • Magnesium: 14% of the Daily Value (DV)
      • Folate: 15% of the DV
      • Vitamin A: 14% of the DV
      • Vitamin C: 26% of the DV
      • Vitamin K: 26% of the DV
      • Vitamin B6: 14% of the DV
    • Notably, okra provides protein, which is relatively rare among fruits and vegetables.
  1. Antioxidant Content:
    • Okra contains beneficial antioxidants, including polyphenols (such as flavonoids and isoquercetin), as well as vitamins A and C.
    • These antioxidants help protect against oxidative damage and inflammation, contributing to heart and brain health.
  1. Heart Health:
    • Okra’s polyphenols may improve heart health by reducing the risk of blood clots and oxidative damage.
    • Consuming polyphenol-rich foods is associated with better cardiovascular health.
  1. Weight Management:
    • Okra’s high fiber content contributes to feelings of fullness, making it beneficial for weight loss.
    • Foods rich in fiber take longer to digest, helping you stay satisfied for longer periods.
  1. Brain Health:
    • The antioxidants in okra may protect the brain from aging-related symptoms and improve cognition, learning, and memory.
  1. Blood Sugar Control:
    • Okra may help manage blood sugar levels due to its fiber content and potential effects on insulin sensitivity.
    • However, more research is needed in this area.
  1. Potential Anticancer Properties:
    • Some studies suggest that okra extracts may have anticancer properties, but further research is required to confirm this.

Incorporating okra into your diet can be a flavorful and nutritious choice. Whether you enjoy it in gumbo or other dishes, remember that this humble vegetable packs a powerful punch of health benefits.

How to cook Okra?

Cooking okra can be a delightful experience, and there are several ways to prepare it.

Here are some popular methods:

  1. Sautéed Okra:
    • Wash and dry the okra pods.
    • Trim the ends and slice them into rounds.
    • Heat some oil (such as olive oil or vegetable oil) in a pan.
    • Add sliced okra, along with minced garlic, salt, and pepper.
    • Sauté over medium heat until the okra is tender and slightly crispy on the edges.
  1. Gumbo:
    • Okra is a key ingredient in gumbo, a flavorful Louisiana dish.
    • Combine okra with other ingredients like bell peppers, onions, celery, and tomatoes.
    • Add spices like thyme, paprika, and cayenne pepper.
    • Simmer everything together to create a rich and hearty stew.
  1. Fried Okra:
    • Slice okra into thin strips or rounds.
    • Dip the slices in beaten egg and then coat them with cornmeal or flour.
    • Fry in hot oil until golden brown and crispy.
    • Serve as a tasty appetizer or side dish.
  1. Okra Curry:
    • In a pan, sauté chopped onions, garlic, and ginger.
    • Add sliced okra, diced tomatoes, and spices (such as turmeric, cumin, and coriander).
    • Simmer until the okra is tender and the flavors meld together.
    • Serve with rice or flatbread.
  1. Stuffed Okra:
    • Cut a slit in each okra pod lengthwise.
    • Prepare a stuffing mixture with ingredients like grated coconut, spices, and roasted peanuts.
    • Stuff the mixture into the okra pods, Pan-fry or bake until the okra is cooked and the stuffing is flavorful.
    • 7.Pickled Okra:
      • Wash and dry whole okra pods.
      • Pack them into sterilized jars.
      • Prepare a pickling liquid with vinegar, salt, sugar, and spices (like mustard seeds and red pepper flakes).
      • Pour the pickling liquid over the okra.
      • Seal the jars and let them sit for a few days before enjoying the tangy pickled okra.

Remember that okra tends to release a slimy substance when cooked. To minimize this, avoid overcooking and consider techniques like sautéing or frying. Experiment with different flavors and find your favorite way to enjoy this nutritious vegetable! 

Other vegetables that pair well with okra

When it comes to pairing okra with other vegetables, there are several delightful combinations that enhance its flavor and create a harmonious culinary experience.

Let’s explore some excellent companions for okra:

  1. Cucumbers:
    • Cucumbers share similar water requirements with okra.
    • Both thrive in rich soil and ample sunlight.
    • Plant them side by side, ensuring enough space for cucumber vines to spread and ripen1.


  1. Melons:
  • Like cucumbers, melons (such as watermelon or cantaloupe) appreciate sun and water.
  • Plant melons on the east side of the okra to benefit from morning sun or on the west side for afternoon sun.
  • Allow plenty of room for melon vines to sprawl.
  1. Eggplant:
    • Eggplants and okra make great companions.
    • They both enjoy well-drained soil and thrive in warm conditions.
    • Plant them together, and they’ll complement each other’s growth.
  2. Sweet or Hot Peppers:
    • Pepper plants repel cabbage worms, which can be harmful to okra.
    • These peppers appreciate the same water and soil conditions as okra.
    • Consider planting them nearby to protect your okra.
  3. Basil:
    • Basil’s strong fragrance acts as a natural pest repellent.
    • It keeps away pests like flea beetles, stinkbugs, spider mites, aphids, and whiteflies that might bother okra.
    • Plant basil near your okra—it’s a win-win situation!
    • Plus, okra’s tall plants can provide some shade for basil during hot summer days1.
  4. Flowering Annuals:
    • Late summer bloomers like cosmoszinnias, and calendulaare excellent companions for okra.
    • These flowers attract pollinators that will visit the okra flowers, aiding in pollination and fruit development.

Remember, thoughtful companion planting not only benefits your garden but also adds diversity and flavor to your meals.

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