Whether you’re a fan of okra’s earthy flavor or still on the fence about this fuzzy green veg, these suckers are a nutritious addition to your diet. They’re also versatile AF since you can eat the leaves, flowers, seeds, and juice.

Here’s the deep dive into just how okra benefits your body.

What are the health benefits of okra?

  1. nutrient-dense
  2. antioxidant-rich
  3. heart-healthy
  4. anti-cancer
  5. pregnancy-friendly
  6. bone-strengthening
  7. full of fiber
  8. blood sugar-stabilizing
  9. stress-free prep
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Okra — also nicknamed ladies’ fingers for its slender shape — is popular in gumbo and a fave Southern side dish when fried or pickled. If you’re not already munching on okra, here’s why you should give this veggie a chance.

1. Okra is a nutritional powerhouse

Yeah, yeah, we know *most* green veggies are chockablock with goodness, but okra is no exception.

If you’re looking for the straight facts on what you get from a cup of raw okra, here they are:

protein1.9 grams (g)
fat0.2 g
carbs7.5 g
fiber3.2 g
sugar1.5 g
vitamin K31.3 milligrams (mg)
potassium299 mg
vitamin C23 mg
magnesium57 mg
calcium82 mg
folate60 micrograms (mcg)
vitamin A36 mcg

Bottom line: Okra offers essential nutrients like vitamins C, K, and A in a low calorie, low fat package. It also contains a fair bit of protein and fiber, which isn’t the case with all veggies.

2. Okra offers oodles of antioxidants

Like many other plants, okra is bursting with antioxidants. That’s a good thing since antioxidants beat back oxidative stress, which raises your risk of diabetes and other chronic disease.

Point is, that crispy grilled okra on your plate could fill your belly *and* keep your immune system in fighting form.

3. Your heart will love hearty okra

Research suggests that noshing on vegetables is a solid way to reduce your risk of heart disease. Thanks, plant-based antioxidants!

The mucilage (gel-like substance) in okra may also help the body expel excess cholesterol. In a 2014 study of mice, the ones that were fed okra powder eliminated more cholesterol in their poop than the other animals.

In a 2020 study of 60 patients with type 2 diabetes who ate okra powder for 8 weeks, they also had lower cholesterol.

Still, we need more studies to confirm this effect in humans.

4. Okra may reduce your risk of some cancers

Okra contains a protein called lectin, which was shown to slow tumor growth in a 2014 study of breast cancer cells. Keep in mind that this was a test-tube study — but the results are promising.

A recent research review further emphasized how okra’s antioxidants and lectin are a one-two punch against cancer. But a few paragraphs later, the scientists wrote that there just haven’t been enough studies on okra to say how much okra could slow cancer *or* how much you’d need to eat to reap that benefit.

5. Okra is great for pregnant peeps

Folate (aka folic acid) is a critical nutrient for healthy fetus development, and okra packs it in. That makes this veggie an excellent snack for pregnant folks.

Of course, the CDC says anyone with a period should ingest 400 micrograms per day. That would require more than 6 1/2 cups of raw okra, so it’s best to diversify your folate-rich food sources.

6. Okra contains bone-strengthening vitamin K

You might not need much folate, but everybody needs vitamin K. This essential nutrient helps your blood clot properly, protects your heart, and improves your bone health.

Experts recommend 120 micrograms of vitamin K for males and 90 micrograms for females each and every day. Just a cup of okra contains over 30 micrograms, so it’s enough to help you get dem bones on the road to long life and prosperity. 🖖

7. Okra helps fill up your fiber tank

Ah, fiber, you unsung hero. It keeps your gut clean, helps you poop, and even reduces inflammation. If you’re trying to increase your intake, 1 cup of okra contains 3 grams of fiber.

FYI, men need about 38 grams of fiber a day and women need 25 grams. So, you’re not going to go No. 2 because of okra alone, but it’s still a good source of fiber.

8. Okra might help squash high blood sugar

Munching on okra has been linked to stable blood sugar, but the research is slim, older, and done on animals. #WompWomp

Scientists think the nutrients in okra could help prevent your body from absorbing too much sugar during digestion. Specifically, research shows okra’s fiber content could help stabilize blood sugar.

If that’s the case, this veggie could be a bonus snack for folks with diabetes.

PSA: Don’t slam a plate of okra if you’re taking metformin for diabetes management. Older research on animals indicated that okra interferes with the way this med is absorbed.

9. Okra = an easy, peasy, stress-free side dish

One of the best things about okra is how easy it is to add to your meals. This veggie can be added to most soups or stews. Plus, it’s a stellar side dish when served alone.

If it’s your first time buying okra, know that there are three forms:

  • Dried. Dry, powdered okra can be used in place of egg whites or to thicken sauces or soups.
  • Seeds. Yep, okra seeds are edible! Snack on them roasted or grind them up to zhuzh up dishes with a little sprinkle of seeds.
  • Fresh. Wet okra can be a bit, erm, slimy. You either love it or hate it. But the secret to tender, un-gummy okra is to cook it whole in the pod.
  • Pickled. Just like cucumbers, adding some okra to a jar with vinegar and spices will give you a pickled product.

If it’s your first time cooking okra, know that there are endless ways to dish up this Southern beauty.

Beyond the Southern U.S., Okra is also enjoyed all over the world.

Wanna incorporate more okra into your diet? Here are a few tasty recipes to try:

If you love the taste and texture of okra, there’s no reason you can’t make it your daily veggie of choice. However, there’s no specific benefit to eating okra daily versus weekly.

Okra is also high in oxalates, which means that eating a lot of it *might* raise your risk of recurrent kidney stones.

  • Okra, also known as ladies’ fingers, is a fuzzy green vegetable filled with seeds.
  • Like many other vegetables, okra is full of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.
  • Okra’s nutrients make it a healthy snack choice whether you’re concerned about heart, bone, or digestive health. Its folate content also makes it super beneficial for pregnant people.
  • You can enjoy okra pickle, roasted, fried, or chopped into a veggie stew or gumbo.