Okra water comes in handy for people interested in the health benefits of okra but dislike its slimy texture. The water is easy to prepare and is replete with nutrients. The benefits of okra water stem from its rich nutritional profile that includes magnesium, calcium, and vitamins C and B complex. It is helpful for controlling blood sugar, boosting immunity, and promoting heart health. It is also a good source of antioxidants and natural antibacterial compounds. This article explains all the benefits of drinking okra water and how to maximize its effectiveness. Keep reading.
What Is Okra Water?
Okra (Abelmoschus esculentus) is a widely used nutritious vegetable. It goes by many names such as lady’s finger, gumbo, bhindi, and guibeiro. It is an inexpensive and tasty source of protein, fiber, calcium, and iron. Fresh or dried, fried or boiled, okra pods are used in soups, stews, and various other preparations (1). The latest trend is okra water.
Chef Rowena Murakami says, “Okra water is a drink made out of okra (ladyfinger). It\’s a relatively new trend in Japan and the rest of Asia.”
Okra water is the ideal solution for those who don\’t like okra’s slimy texture or who want to reap its nutrient benefits without spending a lot of time preparing it. Okra water has a few variations. While some like to blend the pods like a smoothie, others take an easy way out and soak them in water overnight or for 24 hours. Some even dice them or halve them and soak them.
She adds, “It\’s made by blending a few pieces of vegetable with water. The water turns green and has a slimy texture similar to aloe vera juice. It\’s said to be very refreshing and it\’s often consumed by athletes.”
Okra pods appear waxy due to the mucilage that surrounds them. This mucilage contains healthy sugars, including rhamnose, galactose, and galacturonic acid. It is used in Asian medicine as a protective food additive against gastric irritations and inflammations. Okra water contains this highly water-soluble mucilage (2).
Okra water is about as nutritious as raw okra pods. This is because many compounds and antioxidants, such as phenolic compounds, present in okra are water-soluble. Thus, the water is infused with the nourishing goodness of okra pods. Certain vitamins and most minerals are also readily soluble (2).
Dr. Debanjan Banerjee says, “Okra is a great source of manganese, a mineral highly involved in blood sugar metabolism and regulation. Some proponents of this also claim that it might support weight loss as well.”
It is because of this rich nutrient profile that okra water is touted as a healthy beverage.
The nutritional values of okra water have not been scientifically determined but are estimated to be similar to that of raw okra pods. Following is the nutritional profile of 100 grams of raw okra pods (3):
|Total lipids (Fat)||0.19 g|
|Dietary fiber||3.2 g|
|Vitamin C||23 mg|
Okra water contains the B vitamins (thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, vitamin B6, and folate) important for growth and development (3), (4).
Dr. Banerjee adds, “It also boasts of high vitamin C content, which acts as an antioxidant, helps fight free radicals, combats the signs of aging, and improves our immune system.”
Because most of the nutrients in okra are transferred to the water, it is assumed to have similar benefits to okra. He continues, “Okra water holds many potential health benefits such as weight loss and improvement of blood sugar management.” Learn more about the benefits of okra water in the next section.
Potential Benefits Of Drinking Okra Water
1. May Help Manage Diabetes
Okra water is rich in polyphenols and flavonoids such as quercetin. These compounds have the ability to reduce high blood sugar levels.
In several studies, aqueous (water) extracts of okra have decreased blood sugar levels and increased insulin secretion in diabetic rats (5), (6), (7), (8).
Several communities have traditionally used okra water for treating high blood sugar levels. These studies provide scientific evidence for its effectiveness.
2. Is A Good Source Of Antioxidants
Okra water has potent natural antioxidants such as phenolic compounds, flavonoids, and vitamin C. These antioxidants prevent oxidative stress and damage by scavenging harmful free radicals. This is beneficial in reducing early signs of aging, such as wrinkles and skin damage. It also helps protect against sun damage (9), (10), (11), (12).
3. May Boost Immunity
Sugars from okra are soluble in water. Crude okra polysaccharides (sugars) may enhance immune response, help fight microbes, increase spleen function, and control immune signal production (13), (14).
4. May Fight Infection
Okra water is a good source of antibacterial and phenolic compounds. Okra extracts can inhibit the growth of pathogenic bacteria such as Mycobacterium, Escherichia coli, and Staphylococcus aureus (10), (15).
5. May Promote Heart Health
Okra water has bioactive compounds that can reduce the levels of heightened lipids (fats) in the blood. In a few studies, crude okra water extract reduced different lipid fractions (total cholesterol, triglycerides, and LDL) and atherogenic index (a measure of cardiovascular risk). Hence, okra water extract modulates cholesterol levels in the blood. This reduces the risk of heart diseases such as atherosclerosis (the buildup of fats, cholesterol, and other substances in and on your artery walls) (16), (17).
Dr. Banerjee says, “To reap the benefits that this vegetable holds, you can opt for an alternative by drinking okra water early in the morning on an empty stomach. Basically, this is done by soaking okra pods in hot water for over 24 hours.”
How To Make Okra Water
What You Need
How To Prepare
- Rinse the okra pods thoroughly.
- Remove the ends of the pods. Slice the okra pods in half.
- Put the pods in a tumbler with three cups of water. Soak the pods overnight.
- Squeeze the pods into the water and take them out. Your okra water is ready.
Other options include soaking the pods for a day or blending them with water. You can dilute the smoothie with water to suit your taste buds. Here are some tips to make drinking okra water more enjoyable.
Tips To Drink Okra Water
- Drink it early in the morning on an empty stomach: Banerjee says, “Okra is best consumed on an empty stomach early in the morning. For optimal results, it\’s best to combine this with a healthy diet rich in nutrient-dense foods.”
- To improve the taste: Season the okra water with salt and pepper or squeeze in the juice from oranges and lemons if you find it bland.
- Add it to your smoothie: Make it part of your daily healthy smoothie routine for added benefits.
- To save time: Instead of soaking the okra pods overnight, boil them.
- Mix it in other dishes: Okra water can be added to soups, stews, and other dishes. Since it does not have a distinctive taste, it will not interfere with the taste of the main dish.
Okra water provides a number of health benefits, but it may not be suitable for everyone. Below are some reasons it may not be the best choice for you.
Dr. Banerjee says, “Generally, drinking okra water is considered safe. However, for people allergic to this plant, it might pose significant adverse reactions.”
While okra water has many benefits, overindulgence may prove to be harmful.
He concludes, “This plant is quite high in fructans, a carbohydrate which can cause digestion issues for some people when consumed in large amounts. It’s better to consult your doctor first before deciding on taking this, especially if you\’re allergic to this plant.”
Okra water is nourishing and easy to prepare. Ideally, it should be consumed in the morning right after waking up. It is a good source of magnesium, calcium, vitamins B and C, as well as bioactive compounds. The many benefits of okra water are attributed to its rich nutritional profile. It may promote healthy blood sugar control, immunity, and heart health. If you want, you can add it to smoothies and soups or just drink it as is. You can also season it with salt and pepper. There is a possibility that you may be allergic to okra and, therefore, to okra water. If this is the case, speak to your health care provider first.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long does okra water take to work?
Regular intake of okra water may take several weeks to show any considerable effects on your body.
Is okra good for fertility?
No. Okra seeds contain gossypol, which might adversely affect male fertility (18).
Can I drink okra water every day?
You can drink a glass of okra water every day to boost your heart health, immunity, and control blood sugar levels.
Can okra water boost ovulation?
Anecdotally, okra water is believed to boost ovulation. But there are insufficient scientific studies on this subject. Nonetheless, okra has antioxidant and other beneficial properties that promote ovarian health (19).
- Okra water is organic and nutrient-dense, composed of vital antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.
- It is easy to prepare; you simply soak okra pods in water overnight, remove them, and drink the water the next morning.
- It may help boost immunity and cardiovascular and skin health. It is also good for managing diabetes.
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