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Nutritional Quality and Health Benefits of “Okra” (Abelmoschus esculentus): A Review

“Okra” (Abelmoschus esculentus) is an economically important vegetable crop grown in tropical and sub-tropical parts of the world. This paper was aimed to review nutritional quality and potential health benefits of edible parts of “Okra”. “Okra” is a multipurpose crop due to its various uses of the fresh leaves, buds, flowers, pods, stems and seeds. “Okra” immature fruits, which are consumed as vegetables, can be used in salads, soups and stews, fresh or dried, fried or boiled. It offers mucilaginous consistency after cooking. Often the extract obtained from the fruit is added to different recipes like stews and sauces to increase the consistency. “Okra” mucilage has medicinal applications when used as a plasma replacement or blood volume expander. The mucilage of “Okra” binds cholesterol and bile acid carrying toxins dumped into it by the liver. “Okra” seeds are a potential source of oil, with concentrations varying from 20% to 40%, which consists of linoleic acid up to 47.4%. “Okra” seed oil is also a rich source of linoleic acid, a polyunsaturated fatty acid essential for human nutrition. “Okra” has been called “a perfect villager’s vegetable” because of its robust nature, dietary fiber, and distinct seed protein balance of both lysine and tryptophan amino acids. The amino acid composition of “Okra” seed protein is comparable to that of soybean and the protein efficiency ratio is higher than that of soybean and the amino acid pattern of the protein renders it an adequate supplement to legume or cereal based diets. “Okra” seed is known to be rich in high quality protein especially with regards to its content of essential amino acids relative to other plant protein sources. “Okra” is a powerhouse of valuable nutrients, nearly half of which is soluble fibre in the form of gums and pectins which help to lower serum cholesterol, reducing the risk of heart diseases. The other fraction of “Okra” is insoluble fibre, which helps to keep the intestinal tract healthy. “Okra” is also abundant with several carbohydrates, minerals and vitamins, which play a vital role in human diet and health. “Okra” is rich in phenolic compounds with important biological properties like quartering and flavonol derivatives, catechin oligomers and hydroxycinnamic derivatives. “Okra” is also known for being high in antioxidants activity. “Okra” has several potential health beneficial effects on some of the important human diseases like cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, digestive diseases and some cancers. Overall, “Okra” is an important vegetable crop with a diverse array of nutritional quality and potential health benefits.

Okra, Nutritional, Quality, Health, Edible, Oil

Habtamu Fekadu Gemede, Negussie Ratta, Gulelat Desse Haki, Ashagrie Z. Woldegiorgis, Fekadu Beyene. (2015). Nutritional Quality and Health Benefits of “Okra” (Abelmoschus esculentus): A Review. International Journal of Nutrition and Food Sciences, 4(2), 208-215.

Copyright © 2015 Authors retain the copyright of this article.
This article is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License ( which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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