Most Brits know okra thanks to Indian cuisine, which it’s a staple of. Alternately, those who are avid eaters of the Southern United States’ soul food may know okra as an ingredient in traditional gumbo.
Undeniably tasty and crunchy when cooked correctly (but horribly slimy if not), okra is not only lovely to eat, it’s also packed with health benefits.
In this article, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about okra: what okra is, where it comes from, why it’s right for you, and what is its nutritional content.
What are okras?
Okras are the seedpod of the flowering okra plant, which belongs to the same family as hibiscus and cotton. Not typically found in colder climes, okra is cultivated in the Southern United States, South America, Africa, and Asia.
Health benefits of okra
Okra is associated with a wide variety of health benefits, including:
Improved heart health
Okra is brimming with various antioxidants known to combat oxidative stress.1,2 Evidence suggests that eating a diet rich in polyphenol-packed foods like okra is connected to better heart health.3
Better brain health
The same polyphenols which help improve heart health also do wonders for the brain. Studies have found that polyphenols are good at entering the brain compared to other antioxidants.4
Okra's nutrition profile
An average, 100g sized portion of okra contains5:
|Energy||Carbs||Protein||Fat||Fibre||Vitamin C||Vitamin K||Folate||Magnesium|
|33 kcal||7g||2g||0g||3g||26% of RDA||26% of RDA||15% of RDA||14% of RDA|
How to include more okra in your diet
Next time you’re considering bhajis or naan bread on the side of your curry, think twice and consider cooking with the healthier option of okra. Crispy okra is a staple side dish in Indian cuisine. It provides a light, refreshing crunch to contrast with most curries’ dense spiciness.
If curry isn’t your thing, consider adding okra to chilli for an authentic Southern spin on a family favourite.
Last updated: 2 March 2021
Author: Bhupesh Panchal
- Joined Holland & Barrett: April 2019
- Qualifications: Masters Degree in Toxicology, BSc Hons in Medical Biochemistry
Bhupesh started his career as a clinical toxicologist for Public Health England, advising healthcare professionals all around the country on how to manage clinical cases of adverse exposure to supplements, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, industrial chemicals and agricultural products. After 7 years in this role and a further year working as a drug safety officer in the pharmaceutical industry, Bhupesh joined Holland & Barrett as a Senior Regulatory Affairs Associate in 2019.
Bhupesh specialises in vitamins & minerals nutrition, health benefits & safety of botanicals and traditional herbal medicines.
In his spare time, Bhupesh likes to cycle and has been learning to speak Korean for several years.