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Okra: A Southern Favorite

Okra is a southern American favorite and is also a staple in African, Indian, and Caribbean cuisine. Hearty okra is grows with resilience and provides more hunger-satiating protein that most plant foods — making it a key crop for many poor areas of the world.

Okra has many characteristics that make it extremely health promoting. The “slime” okra has in some cooking preparations has a lot of soluble fiber. Okra’s specific fiber has been shown to be especially potent for lowering cholesterol, which can help prevent heart disease.

The fiber in okra makes it great for lowering #cholesterol Click To Tweet

High fiber foods like Okra also help slow the body’s absorption of sugar, helping to control blood sugar spikes and keeping diabetes at bay. In addition to helping prevent heart disease and diabetes, preliminary evidence suggests that okra may protect our brain from developing Alzheimer’s disease.

Okra has some surprising nutrient composition compared to other vegetables. Okra seeds contain high quality protein, that when paired with other good protein sources like legumes or brown rice, make up a complete source of protein. Getting protein from plant sources has been shown to increase longevity, partially by reducing risk for cancer and heart disease.

Okra also is a good plant source of calcium, since 1 cup has about 12% of your daily value. Protein and calcium — not two nutrients you’d expect to be in a vegetable!

Okra is a great source of protein and calcium -- not nutrients often found in veggies! Click To Tweet

Okra is both revered and disliked for its sliminess. Embrace the slime by using it to thicken soups like gumbo. Try this easy slow cooker gumbo that you can prepare in the morning and to be ready for dinner at night!

vegetarian gumbo in a crock potVegetarian Slow Cooker Gumbo

serves 6-8

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1-2 onions, chopped
  • 6 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tsp dried thyme (or 2 tbsp fresh, minced)
  • ½ tsp cracked peppercorn
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 (28 oz) can diced tomatoes
  • ½ cup brown rice
  • 4 cups vegetable or chicken broth
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper
  • 4 tsp lemon juice
  • 2 cups okra, sliced (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 tbsp of hot sauce (optional)


  1. In a skillet over medium heat, heat oil for 30 seconds and add onions, celery and green pepper. Cook stirring until soft, about 5 minutes.
  2. Stir in garlic, thyme, peppercorns, and bay leaf, cook stirring for 1 minute.
  3. Add vegetable mixture, tomatoes, rice, broth, paprika and cayenne to a large crock pot.
  4. Cover and cook on low for 6 hours or high for 3 hours.
  5. Discard bay leaf.
  6. Add lemon juice and okra.
  7. Cover and cook on high for 20 minutes or on low for 40 minutes.
  8. Add hot sauce if desired.

Vegetarian Slow Cooker Gumbo Modified from Food.com.



Gemede HF, Ratta N, Haki GD, Woldegiorgis AZ, Fekadu B. Nutritional Quality and Health Benefits of Okra (Abelmoschus esculentus): A Review. Journal of Food Processing & Technology. 2015; 6(6): 458-464

Levine ME, Suarex JA, Brandhorst S, Balasubramanian P, Cheng C, Madia F, Fontana L, Mirisola MG, Guevara-Aguirre J, Wan J, Passarino G, Kennedy BK, Wei M, Cohen P, Crimmins EM, Longo VD. Low protein intake is associated with a major reduction in IGF-1, cancer, and overall mortality in the 65 and younger but not older population. Cell Metabolism. 2014; 19: 407-417.

Mairuae N, Connor JR, Lee SY, Cheepsunthorn P, Tongjaroenbuangam W. The effects of okra (Abelmoschus esculentus Linn.) on the cellular events associated with Alzheimer’s disease in a stably expressed HFE neuroblastoma SH-SY5Y cell line. Neuroscience Letters. 2015; 603(31): 6-11

SELF Nutrition Data. Okra, ½ cup, slices. Accessed on 10/26/2015 from http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/2498/2

Wang H, Chen G, Ren D, Yang S. Hypolipidemic activity of okra is mediated through inhibition of lipogenesis and upregulation of cholesterol degredation. Phytotherapy Research. 2014; 28: 268-273

Featured image of lady’s finger slices by Yes.aravind via Wikipedia.

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