As vegetables go, okra does not always get the attention it deserves. Besides being low in fat and calories, okra also contains essential nutrients such as potassium and calcium. Okra may be prepared various ways and is commonly found in Creole dishes such as gumbo. Adding okra to your diet can also positively affect your cholesterol levels.
Cholesterol is a substance that is manufactured by the body, but also taken in through your diet. Some cholesterol is necessary for hormone production, but too much can increase your risk of heart disease and stroke by accumulating as plaque in the arteries 2. The Colorado State University Extension states that desirable total cholesterol levels are less than 200 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL), while total levels of LDL cholesterol, the “bad” cholesterol, should be less than 100 mg/dL 12.
Radishes & Weight Loss
Okra is a source of fiber, which is helpful to regulating the digestive system and lowering cholesterol. Fiber is a type of carbohydrate that the body does not digest. Soluble fiber is that which is dissolved in water. This type of fiber binds to cholesterol in the digestive tract so that it can be excreted from the body with other wastes, which lowers total cholesterol levels. One half cup of sliced, cooked okra contains 2 g of dietary fiber.
- Okra is a source of fiber, which is helpful to regulating the digestive system and lowering cholesterol.
Adding okra to your diet can also help to lower cholesterol and triglycerides, because it contains no cholesterol and very little fat. When you eat more of foods that do not contribute to overall cholesterol levels, such as okra, you may eat less of those foods that are high in fat and cholesterol. Replacing high-fat foods that also contain high levels of cholesterol, such as fatty meats or rich desserts, with vegetables such as okra can lower your total cholesterol levels, unless prepared in products that contain cholesterol, such as butter or lard.
Cholesterol in Sunflower Seeds
Like most vegetables, okra contains phytosterols, which may help to lower your cholesterol. The Cleveland Clinic advises that phytosterols are compounds found in the membranes of plant cells that are similar in structure to cholesterol. They compete with cholesterol molecules for absorption during the digestive process, reducing the amount of cholesterol absorbed and thus helping to lower levels in the bloodstream. Okra contains 24 mg of phytosterols in a serving of eight 3-inch pods.
- Like most vegetables, okra contains phytosterols, which may help to lower your cholesterol.
- The Cleveland Clinic advises that phytosterols are compounds found in the membranes of plant cells that are similar in structure to cholesterol.
Okra is a source of vitamin C, an important antioxidant that protects the body from some diseases. One half cup of cooked okra contains over 13 mg of vitamin C, which may help to lower cholesterol. According to the University of Georgia, vitamin C helps to convert cholesterol into bile acids, which are important for fat digestion, a process which lowers your total cholesterol levels 2. Vitamin C also helps to slow the oxidation of cholesterol, which can cause damage to vessels and contribute to plaque buildup and atherosclerosis.
- Okra is a source of vitamin C, an important antioxidant that protects the body from some diseases.
- According to the University of Georgia, vitamin C helps to convert cholesterol into bile acids, which are important for fat digestion, a process which lowers your total cholesterol levels 2.
Radishes & Weight Loss
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Okra Nutrition Information
- University of Illinois Extension: Okra
- The University Health Center: Cholesterol and Your Health
- Fresh Okra: Okra, Raw
- Durazzo A, Lucarini M, Novellino E, Souto EB, Daliu P, Santini A. Abelmoschus esculentus (L.): Bioactive components' beneficial properties--focused on antidiabetic role--for sustainable health applications. Molecules. 2018;24(1):38. doi:10.3390/molecules24010038
- Okra, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt. FoodData Central. U.S. Department of Agriculture. Published April 1, 2019.
- Slavin J. Fiber and prebiotics: Mechanisms and health benefits. Nutrients. 2013;5(4):1417-1435. doi:10.3390/nu5041417
- Islam MT. Phytochemical information and pharmacological activities of Okra (Abelmoschus esculentus): A literature-based review. Phytother Res. 2019;33(1):72-80. doi:10.1002/ptr.6212
- Vitamin K: Fact Sheet for Health Professionals. National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements. Updated February 24, 2020.
- Kung SJ, Steenhoff AP, Gray C. Food allergy in Africa: myth or reality?. Clin Rev Allergy Immunol. 2014;46(3):241-9. doi:10.1007/s12016-012-8341-z
- Eating, Diet, and Nutrition for Kidney Stones. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Updated May 2017.
Meg Brannagan has worked as a registered nurse for more than 10 years, specializing in women's and children's health. She holds a bachelor's degree in nursing from the University of Nebraska Medical Center.