5 Important Health Benefits Of Okra Water Backed By Science

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?

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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).

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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.

Nutritional Information

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):

Calories33 kcal
Proteins1.93 g
Carbohydrates7.45 g
Total lipids (Fat)0.19 g
Dietary fiber3.2 g
Calcium82 mg
Potassium299 mg
Phosphorus61 mg
Magnesium57 mg
Vitamin C23 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

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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).

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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

  • 4 to 5 okra pods
  • Water

How To Prepare

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  1. Rinse the okra pods thoroughly.
  2. Remove the ends of the pods. Slice the okra pods in half.
  3. Put the pods in a tumbler with three cups of water. Soak the pods overnight.
  4. 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

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  • 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.

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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.

Possible Downsides

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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.”

Frequently Asked Questions

When should I start drinking okra water?

Okra water can be had any time during the day. However, one should start drinking this water on an empty stomach to reap the maximum benefits.

What does okra water do to a woman’s body?

Okra water is beneficial for women as it is loaded with many nutrients like vitamins and minerals like vitamin C, folate, fiber, and antioxidants that are crucial for women’s health. It also benefits pregnant women.

How many days can I take okra water?

Okra water can be had every day.

Does okra clean out your system?

Yes, okra helps in the cleansing of the system. The mucilage in it helps flush out the toxins.

What does okra water do to a man?

Okra may help in improving blood sugar control and aids in weight loss in men.

Is okra water good for kidneys?

Yes, okra water is good for kidneys. It reduces kidney damage effectively.

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References

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About the Author: Tung Chi