28 Jul

The Health Benefits of Okra

Botanically, okra belongs to the mallow family. Much like real marshmallow, the mucilage, a sticky substance containing polysaccharides, helps improve digestion and may be used in the treatment of gastritis, gastric ulcer and liver/gallbladder cleansing. Okra’s mucilage helps to lubricate and soothe the bowel, protecting it from chronic inflammation that can lead to irritable bowel syndrome. (1)


Try adding okra to your next soup, stew, or stir-fry to experience these five incredible benefits:

1. Eating okra helps to rid the body of toxins and excess cholesterol: During the process of digestion, bile which is largely made up of cholesterol soaks up acids and toxins from the body. The soluble pectin-based mucilaginous fibre (2) in okra binds with this toxic bile and allows it to be eliminated quickly. (3) If these toxic materials sit in the bowel too long they can be reabsorbed causing inflammation, leading to bowel disease. This same process eliminates excess cholesterol from the body thereby lowering serum cholesterol levels and reducing the risk of heart disease. (4) (5

Compared to over-the-counter constipation medications, okra is much cheaper and has none of the side effects associated with this type of medication. The insoluble fibre in okra absorbs water and ensures bulk in the stool, while the soothing and lubricating quality of the mucilage found in okra can aid in elimination and reduce colorectal cancer. (6)


2. Okra helps to control blood sugar: Regulating blood sugar is a key factor in the prevention of diabetes and heart disease. (7) The fibre in okra controls the rate at which sugar is absorbed from the small intestine into the blood stream.


3. Okra can boost your immunity: The fibre found in okra also feeds the good bacteria in your gut. (8) Maintaining a healthy ratio of good to bad bacteria is crucial to keeping the immune system functioning. (9) Okra is also a great source of vitamin C, which can reduce episodes of cold and cough and protect the body from harmful free radicals.


4. Eating okra can protect you from developing stomach ulcers: The bacteria heliobacter pylori (or h. pylori) is known to cause stomach ulcers. (10) Okra contains glycosylated compounds which have been shown to inhibit h. pylori from attacking the lining of the stomach. (11)


5. Okra reduces the chances of birth defects: Enjoy okra during the pre-conception period because it’s high in folic acid, which is important for women trying to conceive. (12) Okra’s also a good source of vitamin B6 and calcium. A half cup of okra provides you with 10 percent of the daily recommended levels of B6 and folic acid. Beyond making babies, B6 and folic acid helps reduce depression and PMS symptoms as well.

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1. Tanaka T, Ishikawa H: “Mast cells and inflammation-associated colorectal carcinogenesis.” Semin Immunopathol. 2013 Mar;35(2):245-54. doi: 10.1007/s00281-012-0343-7. Epub 2012 Sep 20.
2. Kay RM: “Effects of dietary fibre on serum lipid levels and fecal bile acid excretion.” Can Med Assoc J. 1980 Dec 20;123(12):1213-7.
3. T.S. Kahlon, M.H. Chapman, G.E. Smith: “Analytical, Nutritional and Clinical Methods: In vitro binding of bile acids by okra, beets, asparagus, eggplant, turnips, green beans, carrots, and cauliflower.” Western Regional Research Center, USDA-ARS, 800 Buchanan Street, Albany, CA 94710, United States
4. Jayakumari N, Kurup PA: “Dietary fiber and cholesterol metabolism in rats fed a high cholesterol diet.” Atherosclerosis. 1979 May;33(1):41-7.
5. Jenkins DJ, Kendall CW, Marchie A, Faulkner DA, Wong JM, de Souza R, Emam A, Parker TL, Vidgen E, Trautwein EA, Lapsley KG, Josse RG, Leiter LA, Singer W, Connelly PW.: “Direct comparison of a dietary portfolio of cholesterol-lowering foods with a statin in hypercholesterolemic participants.” Am J Clin Nutr. 2005 Feb;81(2):380-7.
6. Kumar V1, Sinha AK, Makkar HP, de Boeck G, Becker K.: “Dietary roles of non-starch polysaccharides in human nutrition: a review.” Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2012;52(10):899-935. doi: 10.1080/10408398.2010.512671.
7. Sabitha V1, Ramachandran S, Naveen KR, Panneerselvam K.: “Antidiabetic and antihyperlipidemic potential of Abelmoschus esculentus (L.) Moench. in streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats.” J Pharm Bioallied Sci. 2011 Jul;3(3):397-402. doi: 10.4103/0975-7406.84447.
8. Tuohy KM, Rouzaud GC, Brück WM, Gibson GR.: “Modulation of the human gut microflora towards improved health using prebiotics--assessment of efficacy.“ Curr Pharm Des. 2005;11(1):75-90.
9. Panesar PS1, Kumari S, Panesar R.: “Biotechnological approaches for the production of prebiotics and their potential applications.” Crit Rev Biotechnol. 2013 Dec;33(4):345-64. doi: 10.3109/07388551.2012.709482. Epub 2012 Sep 18.
10. Lengsfeld C1, Titgemeyer F, Faller G, Hensel A.: “Glycosylated compounds from okra inhibit adhesion of Helicobacter pylori to human gastric mucosa.” J Agric Food Chem. 2004 Mar 24;52(6):1495-503.
11. Wittschier N1, Lengsfeld C, Vorthems S, Stratmann U, Ernst JF, Verspohl EJ, Hensel A.: “Large molecules as anti-adhesive compounds against pathogens.” J Pharm Pharmacol. 2007 Jun;59(6):777-86.
12. Wilson RD, Johnson JA, Wyatt P, Allen V, Gagnon A, Langlois S, Blight C, Audibert F, Désilets V, Brock JA, Koren G, Goh YI, Nguyen P, Kapur B; Genetics Committee of the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada and The Motherrisk Program.: “Pre-conceptional vitamin/folic acid supplementation 2007: the use of folic acid in combination with a multivitamin supplement for the prevention of neural tube defects and other congenital anomalies.” J Obstet Gynaecol Can. 2007 Dec;29(12):1003-26.


# Karen 2016-02-03 14:34
Hi Julie!

I have a question, I have mild gastritis and wondering what other foods besides Okra are good for healing for this condition. I tried your superfood smoothie this morning but it has upset my stomach a little....any idea which ingredient could be irritating me?
Also what is the best way to prepare Okra? Is steaming good or does it taste bad (I've never tried it lol).

thanks so much,
# Julie Daniluk 2016-02-03 17:50
Hello Karen,

You can prepare okra in a variety of ways but in your case adding sliced okra to some soup might be best.

Here is an article on gastritis you might find helpful: https://juliedaniluk.com/health-tips/gastritis-the-inflamed-stomach.html?highlight=WyJnYXN0cml0aXMiXQ==

It is difficult to say which ingredient was irritating you as you could be reacting to any of the ingredients. It really depends on you. This is the reason why my motto is "7 billion diets for 7 billion people." My book Meals That Heal Inflammation can help you develop an anti-inflammatory plan that is right for you. Here's more info on it: https://juliedaniluk.com/books/meals-that-heal-inflammation-by-julie-daniluk.html

Kind regards, Julie
# Rudolf Pawar 2016-12-26 22:52
We prepare Okra with mince or meat. Its an indian parsi dish which is awesome to taste and very healthy too. Thanks healthlogist, it was a great informative article Julie.
# Julie Daniluk 2016-12-27 16:02
Thank you for posting Rudolf!

Cheers, Julie

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