Okra Okra (okra, gombo, abelmos, ladies' fingers, edible hibiscus) is a little-known vegetable in our country. But it has an ancient origin. Currently, this plant is cultivated and widely consumed in food in the countries of America, Asia, Africa.

It is known that the great Russian writer APChekhov grew okra on his garden plot. There is a version that it was he who called these velvet fruits ladies' fingers.

What it is

Edible hibiscus is an annual herb in the Malvaceae family. In height, this bush reaches 30-40 cm, rarely more. The fruits of this vegetable look like a box, which resembles a multifaceted pod covered with fluff. In cross-section, the pods are shaped like a five-pointed star. Many seeds ripen inside the capsule. Ripe fruits (more than 5 days) become fibrous and tasteless, therefore they are not eaten. Okra pods taste like a cross between asparagus beans and courgettes or young eggplants.

  • What it is
  • Chemical composition
  • Beneficial features
  • Potential harm
  • Application in traditional medicine
  • Application in dietetics
  • Use in cosmetology
  • Cooking applications
  • How to choose and store
  • Conclusion

Chemical composition

Okra is a very healthy vegetable, which, due to its piquant taste, can be consumed both as an independent fresh dish and in combination with other products. The pulp of the pods contains up to 90 g of water; the dry residue of the pulp contains proteins (up to 2 g), carbohydrates (up to 8 g), as well as mucus. There is little fat in this vegetable - up to 0.2 g [1]

The main part of okra carbohydrates is represented by dietary fiber - water-insoluble fiber (cellulose), the content of which in 100 g of fruits reaches 15-16% of the daily requirement for it.

The mucous substances of okra are represented by complex carbohydrates and glycosaminoglycans (protein-carbohydrate compounds). This vegetable also contains a lot of chlorophyll, a compound that is chemically similar to human hemoglobin.

The composition of the pulp of edible hibiscus pods contains vitamins and minerals (macro- and microelements), while many of them in one00 g of fruits are contained in concentrations that are significant for the functioning of the human body.

Name Content, mg per 100 g of pulp [1]
Provitamin A (beta-carotene) 0,4
Vitamin B1 (thiamin) 0.2
Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) 0.1
Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid) 0.2
Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) 0.2
Vitamin B9 (folic acid) 0.06
Vitamin PP (nicotinic acid) 1
Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) 23
Vitamin E (tocopherol) 0.3
Vitamin K (phylloquinone) 0.03
Potassium 299
Calcium 82
Phosphorus 61
Magnesium 57
Sodium 7
Manganese 0.8
Iron 0.8
Zinc 0.6
Copper 0.1

Beneficial features

 Okra pods People have long noticed that okra pods, when eaten, exhibit many beneficial properties for various human systems and organs.

For the organs of the gastrointestinal tract

Due to the presence of a large amount of mucus, cellulose, B vitamins, magnesium, manganese and zinc, this vegetable has a beneficial effect on the functioning of the gastrointestinal tract [2]

  • envelops the mucous membranes;
  • heals erosion and ulcers;
  • stimulates the recovery of mucosal cells;
  • normalizes the production of digestive juices;
  • exhibits bactericidal and antiseptic properties;
  • absorbs toxic substances and toxins in the intestines;
  • absorbs water, increasing in size and accelerating the excretion of feces from the intestines;
  • prevents the absorption of cholesterol;
  • is a vitamin and mineral environment for normal intestinal biocenosis.

Moisturizing mucous membranes and softening feces, okra, when used regularly, prevents the formation of cracks in the rectal mucosa.
Glutathione, contained in okra, protects liver cells from the toxic effects of alcohol, nicotine, potent substances, as well as certain drugs (cytostatics, antibiotics, psychotropic, hormonal substances, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs).

For the respiratory system

Edible hibiscus contains a balance of mucus, vitamins and minerals that allows its fruits to have a positive effect on the respiratory system when ingested [2]

  • relieve inflammation;
  • suppress the development of pathogenic microflora;
  • moisturize mucous membranes and retain moisture in them;
  • reduce sensitization of the upper respiratory tract;
  • prevent swelling of the mucous membranes.

The high concentration of ascorbic acid in the pods of this plant enhances local bronchopulmonary immunity.

For the circulatory system and metabolism

 Improving metabolism The substances contained in okra have a double hypocholesterolemic effect (they prevent the absorption of cholesterol from the intestines and promote its release into the intestines with bile). The regular presence of the fruits of this plant in the diet affects the composition of the blood, the work of the heart and blood vessels in the following way [2]

  • improves the rheological properties of blood;
  • normalizes microcirculation in the capillary network;
  • increases the level of hemoglobin in the blood;
  • prevents the formation of atherosclerotic plaques;
  • reduces the permeability of the walls of blood vessels and increases their elasticity.

The composition of the pulp of edible hibiscus contains substances that affect the body's metabolism:

  • reduce the level of glucose in the blood, which normalizes carbohydrate metabolism;
  • participate in protein and fat metabolism;
  • contribute to the deposition of calcium in the bones.

For a pregnant woman's body

Okra is a source of folic acid, therefore it is recommended to be introduced into the diet of pregnant women, especially in the first trimester. Folic acid contributes to the formation of the neural tube of the fetus, which prevents the occurrence of malformations of the brain and spinal cord.

Anti-cancer properties

Okra glutathione is involved in the detoxification of methylglyoxal, a metabolic by-product that has a toxic effect on the cells of the human body. It protects immune cells (lymphocytes) from free radicals and lipid peroxidation products. Another positive property of glutathione is that it helps to restore other antioxidant substances - vitamins A, E, D, C.

These antioxidant properties of glutathione have been scientifically proven to reduce the likelihood of cancerous growths.

Potential harm

For all its usefulness, okra fruits can cause severe allergic reactions. There are no allergens in their pulp, but they are found in the hairs that cover the pods. Contact of unprotected skin with the edge of the okra fruit can lead to skin itching and rash, and in some cases - to the occurrence of anaphylactic reactions [2]

Allergies can be avoided by getting rid of these hairs before eating or during processing. In order to remove them, it is enough, holding on to the stalk, to wipe the pod with a hard rag.

No other contraindications to the use of okra fruits inside or for external use of means from its pulp have been identified.

Application in traditional medicine

 Asthma Due to its high taste and the many beneficial properties shown, the fruits of edible hibiscus are used in medical nutrition for various ailments.

With pathologies of the respiratory system

Means made from okra (decoctions, infusions) effectively fight respiratory diseases [3]

  • cough;
  • sore throat;
  • laryngitis;
  • bronchitis;
  • tracheitis;
  • bronchial asthma.

By increasing the general and local immunity, eating the fruits of this vegetable is useful for various infectious pathologies.

For diseases of the digestive system

Okra dishes are recommended for regular consumption if you have the following health problems [4]

  • gastritis;
  • peptic ulcer and 12 duodenal ulcer;
  • enterocolitis;
  • acute and chronic hepatitis;
  • cirrhosis;
  • hepatic degeneration (fibrosis, fatty hepatosis);
  • biliary dyskinesia;
  • pancreatitis;
  • dysbiosis;
  • constipation;
  • hemorrhoids and rectal fissures.


With other pathologies

Eating okra in its raw form or in dishes made from it is also useful for diseases of the heart and blood vessels, disorders of microcirculation in the brain, diabetes mellitus and diabetic microangiopathies.

The antioxidant properties of glutathione contained in edible hibiscus are successfully used in complex treatment [4]

  • autoimmune diseases;
  • Parkinson's and Alzheimer's diseases;
  • chronic fatigue syndrome;
  • cataracts and other pathologies of the organ of vision.

Edible hibiscus is indicated for men with problems with potency of various origins, prostatitis, after suffering venereal diseases.

Application in dietetics

Dishes made from low-calorie okra are recommended by nutritionists for consumption [4]

  • those who want to normalize and maintain their weight;
  • with obesity;
  • people leading a sedentary lifestyle;
  • knowledge workers who are usually sedentary.

Due to its high fiber content, okra satisfies hunger between meals. Eating 1-2 vegetable pods half an hour before a meal will help reduce the serving size. It is also convenient to take these fruits with you on the road or to work and use them as a snack. Okra fiber prevents constipation in dieters.

Use in cosmetology

 Edible hibiscus fruits Eating okra in food improves the condition of the skin, hair and nails. This property of the fruits of edible hibiscus, according to some historians, was known even at the court of the Egyptian queen Cleopatra, in whose diet this vegetable was present every day. On the basis of the pulp of the fruit, various cosmetics for the skin and hair are still produced.

Balm for hair shine

Grind green okra pods, cook for 25-30 minutes. After cooling, drain the slimy broth, add a few drops of lemon juice. Apply to clean hair after shampooing for shine. [4]

Face cream

The juice squeezed from the pulp of the fruit of the edible hibiscus is added to the face cream (preferably without fragrances). With daily application of such a remedy on problem skin, signs of inflammation and the number of acne are reduced.

Cooking applications

 Baked okra Okra fruits are often used in the cuisines of Asia and Africa, less often in Western Europe and America. In our country, the fruits of edible hibiscus for culinary purposes are rarely used and this is in vain.

The pods of this vegetable have a piquant taste, which, with various methods of culinary processing, acquires certain exquisite notes. Okra can be eaten fresh or prepared as follows:

  • blanch;
  • boil;
  • fry, including deep fat;
  • extinguish;
  • salt;
  • canning.

Okra goes well with rice, vegetables, fish, meat, mushrooms, spices, aromatic herbs, soy sauce. In soups, okra is capable of secreting a lot of mucus, so first courses from it are often included in the diet of medical nutrition for people with diseases of the gastrointestinal tract, along with oatmeal or other slimy dishes. To prevent mucus from escaping from the fruit, acids (vinegar, lemon juice, tomato paste) must be added to okra dishes.

From the roasted ripe seeds of edible hibiscus in Asia, a drink is prepared that is very similar in taste and aroma to coffee. Moreover, it is deprived of caffeine, so it can be drunk even by children.

How to choose and store

A few years ago, it was rare to find such a product as okra on our counters. Today, this vegetable has started to appear in large supermarkets and markets. To get truly healthy and fresh fruits, you need:

  • Examine them. The pods should be up to 10 cm long and have a juicy green color, without yellowness or darkening. Some varieties of okra may have a reddish tint.
  • Feel them. The fruit should be firm and have soft hairs on the surface. The hard, smooth skin of the pod indicates that it is overripe.
  • Keep fresh pods in the refrigerator in the vegetable compartment for no more than three days [2]


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    Okra is an exotic vegetable that is rapidly gaining popularity in our country. In addition to its piquant taste, its fruits have a lot of useful properties, which makes it possible to successfully use it not only in cooking, but also in medicine.

    Okra improves the functioning of the heart and blood vessels, normalizes digestion, and helps with respiratory diseases. Folic acid contained in vegetable pods, when consumed in the first trimester of pregnancy, contributes to the proper development of the fetal nervous system. The presence of this culture in the daily diet is indicated for men with potency disorders.

    Glutathione, found in okra, is a powerful antioxidant that, when consumed regularly, can reduce the likelihood of cancer.

    Okra pods are used to make cosmetic products for external use (hair balms, face creams).

    Edible hibiscus fruits are used raw, in soups, main courses, snacks, canned foods and pickles.

    So that the vegetable does not cause allergic reactions, when processing fruits for further ingestion or external use, it is necessary to get rid of the hairs on their surface.

    Things to know (Q&A)

    Why okra is bad for you?

    Eating too much okra can adversely affect some people. Gastrointestinal problems : Okra contains fructans, which is a type of carbohydrate. Fructans can cause diarrhea, gas, cramping, and bloating in people with existing bowel problems. Kidney stones: Okra is high in oxalates.

    Why is okra called ladies finger?

    What I found was a bit of a let-down for me, to tell the truth: okra pods are long, slender, and elegantly shaped, just like a lady's finger , hence the name (Duh!). Oh well, at least that's easy to remembe

    What is the best way to eat okra?

    Five Ways to Eat Okra

    1. Fried. Dredged in egg and cornmeal and fried to a golden crisp, it's a "simple Southern classic." Add a twist by making it curried.
    2. Gumbo, of course. Try it with seafood, chicken and sausage, or no meat at all; there are a zillion recipes out there. ...
    3. Oven-roasted. ...
    4. Stew. ...
    5. Pickles.

    What do okra taste like?

    Okra has a sweet, grassy flavor that takes on more depth with longer cooking and a texture that can be crisp and juicy or dense and cream

    What happens to your body when you eat okra everyday?

    Okra is low in calories but packed full of nutrients. The vitamin C in okra helps support healthy immune function. Okra is also rich in vitamin K, which helps your body clot blood. Antioxidants are natural compounds that help your body fight off molecules called free radicals that can damage cell

    Who should not eat okra?

    That said, okra may interfere with metformin , a common diabetes medication. Therefore, eating okra is not recommended for those taking this drug ( 15 ). Summary Eating okra has been linked to blood sugar control. Yet, some research suggests that it may interfere with common diabetes medication

    Is okra safe to eat?

    The entire okra plant is edible . The leaves can be eaten raw in salads or cooked like any other greens. Okra pods can even be eaten raw. The less cooked okra is, the better it is for yo

    Why does okra make you poop?

    Love it or hate it, that slimy center inside okra is actually mucilaginous fibre – soluble fibre that's been mixed with water and thus turns all gooey, which is what happens to all soluble fibre in your digestive tract. “Okra is my go-to to relieve constipation,” says Kendra Tolbert, registered dieticia

    What is difference between Lady Finger and okra?

    Summary: There is only one slight difference between okra and lady finger . Both are names for the same plant bearing the two scientific names. “Okra” is used in the United States and the Philippines while “lady finger” is used as an English name outside those mentioned countries.

    Who named Lady Finger?

    Ladyfingers originated in the late 15th century at the court of the Duchy of Savoy and were created to mark the occasion of a visit by the King of France. Later, they were given the name Savoiardi and recognized as an "official" court biscuit.

    What do you mean by ladies finger?

    Definition of lady's-finger

    : any of various plants with finger-shaped parts: such as. a : any of several legumes (as kidney vetch or bird's-foot trefoil) b dialectal, England : cuckoopint. c : okra.

    Is okra healthier cooked or raw?

    Okra pods can even be eaten raw . The less cooked okra is, the better it is for you. It's high in fiber, folate, antioxidants, and vitamins A and

    What are the health benefits of eating raw okra?

    Okra is a nutritious food with many health benefits. It's rich in magnesium, folate, fiber, antioxidants, and vitamin C, K1, and A. Okra may benefit pregnant women, heart health, and blood sugar control . It may even have anticancer propertie

    How do you eat raw okra?

    Top lopped off, sliced in half lengthwise, and sprinkled with table salt…and sometimes lots of black pepper. To save time, you could also just take the salt shaker to the garden. Just pick 'em off one by one, sprinkle the outside with salt, and CRUNCH! Eat 'em in one bit

    How would you describe the taste of okra?

    What Does It Taste Like? Okra has a mild, almost grassy flavor that is uniquely okra. While it's sometimes compared to the taste of eggplant or green beans, its texture gets more attention. Okra is crunchy when cooked quickly but becomes almost mouthwateringly tender when slow-cooke

    Why does okra taste bad?

    Okra has many seeds inside it and the texture of the liquid with the seeds is kind of slimy . Some people detest it because it is slimy. When it is over cooked it is less slimy but you can't really taste what okra tastes like.

    What does okra taste good with?

    Oven-roasted okra tastes great. You can roast okra with olive oil, pepper, and salt for simple flavour. To improve on the flavour profile, smother okra with several spices that go well together. Okra lovers thoroughly enjoy the spicy version of this mea

    What does okra taste like fried?

    What does okra taste like fried? Okra has a mild flavor that many say tastes similar to eggplant , but the texture is more fibrous and tender. Additionally, the vegetable has a slime that will make it have a silky texture.

    (Deutsch) Okra
    (Français) Gombo
    (Italiano) Ocra
    (Español) Okra
    (Português) Quiabo
    (Nederlands) okra
    (Svenska) Okra
    (Norsk) Okra
    (Suomi) Okra
    (Български) бамя
    (Magyar) Gombó
    (Română) Bame
    (Dansk) Okra
    (日本語) オクラ
    (Català) Okra
    (العربية) بامية
    (Čeština) Okra
    (עברית) במיה
    (한국어) 오크라
    (Lietuvių) Okra
    (Українська) Бамія
    (Ελληνικά) Μπάμια
    (Eesti keel) Okra
    (Hrvatski) Bamija
    (Melayu) bendi
    (Latviešu) Okra
    (Filipino) Okra
    (Türkçe) Bamya
    (中文(简体)) 秋葵