Okra: Health Benefits & Recipe Tips

Okra is a cooking staple in Asia and the southern United States and is divisive among diners for its slightly slippery texture. But when prepared correctly, okra adds a delightful flair to recipes of all kinds.

Inside those little green pods, okra boasts an impressive resume, containing protein, fiber, folate, and calcium, as well as vitamins A, C, K, and B6.

  • Vitamin K has been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects which, when eaten as part of a whole foods diet help to reduce a person’s risk of cancer.
  • Vitamins A and C function as antioxidants to support your immune system.
  • Fiber works to keep your gut in good health and supports a healthy immune system.
  • Folate and B6 have many functions in the body and are essential to the formation of healthy red blood cells, which of course are necessary to supply oxygen and nutrients to your tissues and organs and help to support a healthy immune system.
  • Adequate protein and calcium keep your bones strong and healthy.

Okra also contains known cancer-battling phytochemicals, lutein, and beta-carotene which, in cell studies have shown promise to help inhibit breast cancer cell growth. The research is not yet conclusive and these phytochemicals should be consumed in a whole food form.

Okra tends to have a slimy texture once it hits the water, which can initially be off-putting but once you see how useful it is for thickening stews and gumbos you’ll most likely be able to get over any issues you have with its texture. If you simply cannot get past it, try recipes that do not involve cutting the pod. If you just trim off the stem and cook the pods whole, the signature okra texture can be avoided altogether.

Chef Tips

Buy small, fresh, green okra pods that are as crisp and unblemished as possible. Cooking the cut pods over a high heat cuts down on the sliminess that can make okra a challenge for many.

Okra is also popular in Mediterranean cuisine and is often cooked with onions and tomatoes. Our Okra and Tomato Stew is a classic version of this, and a perfect side dish.

Our Roasted Okra recipe is a zesty, spicy way to introduce skeptics to okra and it’s easy to make.

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