Nutritional Value and Health Benefits of Okra
Okra is a powerhouse of valuable nutrients. Nearly half of which is soluble fiber in the form of gums and pectins. Soluble fiber helps to lower serum cholesterol, reducing the risk of heart disease. The other half is insoluble fiber which helps to keep the intestinal tract healthy decreasing the risk of some forms of cancer, especially colorectal cancer. Nearly 10% of the recommended levels of vitamin B6 and folic acid are also present in a half cup of cooked okra.
1/2 cup sliced, cooked okra
- Calories: 25
- Dietary Fiber: 2 grams
- Protein: 1.52 grams
- Carbohydrates: 5.76 grams
- Vitamin A: 460 IU
- Vitamin C: 13.04 mg
- Folic acid: 36.5 micrograms
- Calcium: 50.4 mg
- Iron 0.4 mg
- Potassium: 256.6 mg
- Magnesium: 46 mg
Preparation & Serving
Okra exudes a unique mucilaginous juice which is responsible for its thickening power in the famous Louisiana Creole gumbo dish. Aside from gumbo, okra compliments tomatoes, onions and corn, shellfish and fish stock. Okra has a subtle taste, similar to the flavor of eggplant.
Refrigerate unwashed, dry okra pods in the vegetable crisper, loosely wrapped in perforated plastic bags. Wet pods will quickly mold and become slimy. Okra will keep for only two or three days. When the ridges and tips of the pod start to turn dark, use it or lose it. Once it starts to darken, okra will quickly deteriorate.
Freezing is the best method for long term home storage of okra. Freeze only young, tender okra. Okra must be blanched before freezing, as with all vegetables. Unblanched okra will quickly become tough and suffer huge nutrient, flavor and color loss during freezing. Follow the procedure outlined below for successful home freezing.
To Prepare Okra for Freezing
Since freezing does not improve the quality of any vegetable, it is important to start with fresh green pods. Avoid pods longer than 2 to 2-1/2 inches long. Okra that is at peak quality for eating is best for freezing.
- In a blanching pot or large pot with tight fitting lid, bring about 5 quarts of water to a rolling boil.
- Meanwhile, wash, and trim of stems of okra pods, leaving caps whole.
- Blanch no more than one pound of okra at a time. Drop pods into boiling water and immediately cover with a tight fitting lid.
- Start timing the blanching immediately and blanch for four minutes.
- Prepare an ice water bath in a large 5 to 6 quart container or use the sink.
- Remove the okra from the blanching water with a slotted spoon or blanching basket.
- Emerge the okra in the ice water bath for 5 min. or until completely cool. If ice is unavailable, use several changes of cold tap water to cool the vegetables.
- Remove from water and drain.
- Label and date, quart size, zip-closure freezer bags.
- Pack okra into prepared freezer bags, squeeze out as much air as possible by folding the top portion of the bag over. Gently push air out and seal. Freeze for up to one year at 32°F or below.
Blanching water and ice water bath may be used over and over again. Return blanching water to a boil after each batch of vegetables is blanched and replenish water if necessary.