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

Habtamu Fekadu Gemede


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 plays 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.

Key words: Okra, Nutritional, Quality, Health, Edible, Oil

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ISSN (Paper)2224-6088 ISSN (Online)2225-0557

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