The Nutritional Benefits of Okra

The Nutritional Benefits of Okra

Jul 11, 2024Elizabeth Yakubu



Okra, also known as lady’s finger or gumbo, is a versatile vegetable widely used in cuisines in Africa and around the world. Not only is okra a delicious addition to various dishes, but it also boasts of impressive nutritional values that can benefit your health in numerous ways. In this article, we’ll explore the nutritional benefits of okra and how you can incorporate it into your diet.

Read More: 11 Must-Try African Vegan Dishes


Nutritional Values of Okra

Okra is packed with essential nutrients, making it a valuable addition to a balanced diet. Here’s a breakdown of the key nutrients found in okra:

- Vitamins: Okra is rich in vitamins A, C, and K. It also contains several B vitamins, including B6 (pyridoxine) and folate.

- Minerals: Okra provides important minerals such as calcium, magnesium, potassium, and iron.

- Fiber: Okra is a great source of dietary fiber, particularly soluble fiber.

- Antioxidants: Okra contains powerful antioxidants, including flavonoids, polyphenols, and vitamins C and A

Also Read: 10 Delicious African Soups and Stews That Pair Well with Fufu


Health Benefits of Okra

  • Rich in Antioxidants
  • Antioxidants are compounds that protect your body from damage caused by free radicals. Okra contains several antioxidants, including quercetin, catechins, and epicatechins, which can help reduce oxidative stress and lower the risk of chronic diseases.


  • Supports Digestive Health
  • The high fiber content in okra supports healthy digestion. Soluble fiber helps regulate bowel movements by adding bulk to the stool, preventing constipation. Additionally, okra's mucilage, a gelatinous substance, aids in soothing the digestive tract.


  • Promotes Heart Health
  • Okra's fiber, particularly soluble fiber, can help lower cholesterol levels by binding to cholesterol in the digestive system and removing it from the body. This process helps reduce the risk of heart disease. Moreover, the antioxidants in okra contribute to cardiovascular health by preventing oxidative damage to the heart.


  • Aids in Blood Sugar Control
  • Okra has a low glycemic index, meaning it causes a gradual rise in blood sugar levels. The fiber in okra slows down the absorption of sugar in the digestive tract, which can help manage blood sugar levels. Some studies suggest that okra may have anti-diabetic properties, making it beneficial for individuals with diabetes or those at risk of developing the condition.


  • Enhances Bone Health
  • Okra is a good source of vitamin K, which is essential for bone health. Vitamin K plays a crucial role in bone mineralization and helps improve calcium absorption, thereby reducing the risk of fractures and osteoporosis.


  • Supports Immune Function
  • The high vitamin C content in okra boosts the immune system by stimulating the production of white blood cells, which are essential for fighting infections. Additionally, vitamin C acts as an antioxidant, protecting immune cells from damage by free radicals.


  • Promotes Skin Health
  • Vitamins A and C in okra contribute to healthy skin. Vitamin A supports skin cell production and repair, while vitamin C aids in collagen formation, keeping the skin firm and youthful. Antioxidants in okra also help reduce inflammation and prevent damage from UV radiation.

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    How to Incorporate Okra into Your Diet

    Okra, also known as “okro” or “ladies’ fingers,” is a warm-season vegetable widely used in African cuisine. Here are some delightful African okra recipes you might enjoy:

    Super Kanja: 

    A popular dish in an African country (which one, you ask? It’s Superkanja!), Super Kanja is made with okra, meat (usually goat or beef), and various spices. It’s a flavorful stew that pairs well with rice or fufu.


    Ila Alasepo: 

    This Nigerian dish features okra cooked with palm oil, assorted meats, and spices. It’s often served with pounded yam or eba (cassava fufu).

    Miris Otong Soup: 

    This is a traditional okra soup from the Efik people of Cross River, South Eastern Nigeria. This soup is known for its rich, flavorful taste and is quite similar to the Yoruba Okra Soup, Ila Alasepo. The main difference is the addition of Ugu leaves (pumpkin leaves), which can be substituted with spinach, water leaves, or kale if needed.

    Muamba De Galinha: 

    This is a traditional Angolan chicken stew, rich in flavor and often enjoyed during special family meals. The dish is made with chicken, garlic, chili, vegetables, and cooked in palm oil, giving it a unique and aromatic taste. It’s typically served with funge (a type of cornmeal porridge).

    Also Read: 27 Delicious West African Soups



    Okra is a highly nutritious vegetable that offers numerous health benefits, from supporting digestive health to boosting the immune system. Its versatility in the kitchen makes it easy to incorporate into a variety of dishes. By adding okra to your diet, you can enjoy its delicious flavor while reaping the many health benefits it provides. You can get the best and freshest ingredients for all your African foods at My Sasun African Store, the number one African grocery store in the US and Canada. 



    Is okra good for weight loss?

    Yes, okra is low in calories and high in fiber, making it a great addition to a weight loss diet. The fiber helps you feel full longer, reducing overall calorie intake.

    Can I eat okra raw?

    Yes, okra can be eaten raw. It's often added to salads for a crunchy texture. Just be sure to wash it thoroughly before eating.

    Does okra help with joint pain?

    Okra's antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties may help reduce inflammation and alleviate joint pain, though more research is needed to confirm these benefits.

    How should I store fresh okra?

    Store fresh okra in a paper bag or wrapped in a paper towel inside a plastic bag in the refrigerator. Use it within a few days for the best quality.

    Are there any side effects of eating okra?

    While okra is generally safe to eat, some people may experience digestive discomfort if they consume large amounts due to its high fiber content. If you have a sensitivity, start with small portions and gradually increase.

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