Plant Magazine of Botanical-online September 2017

Natural remedies

Okra

(Abelmoschus esculentus)

CHARACTERISTICS OF OKRA

Botanical classification

Kingdom

Plantae - Plants

Subkingdom

Tracheobionta
Vascular plants

Superdivision

Spermatophyta
Seed plants

Division

Magnoliophyta or Angiosperm (Flower plants)

Class

Magnoliopsida
or
Dicotyledonous

Order

Malvales

Family

Malvaceae

Gender

Abelmoschus

Species

A. esculentus

Common English Name: okra, okro, gumbo, lady's fingers

Common names in other languages:

- Catalan / Català: ocra, gombo, gumbo, ocro

- Galician / Galego: quiabo

- Portuguese / Português: quiabo

- Basque / Euskara: okra

- Italian / Italiano: gombo

- Romanian / Română: Okra

- French / Français: gombo

- German / Deutsch: Okra, Gemüse-Eibisch, bamya

- Polish/ Polski: róża chińska

- Dutch /Nederlands: Okra

- Norwegian /Norsk bokmål: Okra

- Finnish /Suomi: Okra

- Swedish /Svenska: Okra

- Turkish / Türkçe: bamya

- Русский / Russian: окра

Scientific name: Abelmoschus esculentus (L.) Moench.

Other taxonomic names:
- Hibiscus esculentus L.
- Hibiscus longifolius Willd.

Family: Malvaceae

Used parts of okra: Leaves, fruits, seeds and roots.

Origin of okra

It is believed that okra is native to North Africa and was brought to the US three centuries ago through the African slave trade. Its exact origin is focused on Abyssinia, comprising present-day Ethiopia, Eritrea mountains and highlands of eastern Sudan.

Habitat: is a plant of tropical and temperate regions, very resistant to heat, drought and poor soils. The major global producers are India, Sudan and Iraq.

Distribution: Important vegetable in the diet of tropical countries. Popular among the populations of Cameroon, Ghana, India, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates, Guatemala, Mexico and the United States.

Description of Okra

Okra belongs to the Malvaceae family, the same family that cotton (Gossypium spp.) or hibiscus (Hibiscus spp.) belong. Its growth cycle is 90-100 days.

It is a herbaceous plant with woody stem (sometimes with reddish tones), erect and very branched. Numerous short twigs attached to the stem are distinguished.

Okra can reach up to 3 meters high, although it usually measures just over 1 meter.

Its leaves can have different shapes, even on the same plant. These are stalked heart-shaped., large, with thick limb and dark green on top and gray on the bottom.

Basal leaves are almost entire, while the upper ones present divided lobes (lobes 4 to 7) with toothed margins.

Okra flowers are solitary and showy, 4-8cm. in diameter, arising from the axils of the leaves join to the stem by a floral stalk 2-2,5cm.

They are protected by a calycle, which has between 7 and 12 teeth. Calyx consists of 5 petals white or yellow with red or purple spots on the base.

Flowers are hermaphrodite. They bloom from July to September.

Okra fruit is a capsule, dehiscent, elongated, straight or curved, 10-30cm. long per 1-4cm. wide, green yellow or green, sometimes purple or white.

Its seeds are dark brown.

okra flowers and leaves
In the picture: botanical illustration of an upper branch of Okra.
Branch (1), divided leaves (2)
Flower calycles (3) and flower (4).

USES OF OKRA

Okra as edible food

Okra leaves, buds, flowers and chalices can be eaten cooked as a vegetable.

Okra in an European market stall
Okra in an European market stall

The unripe pod, known as okra, when cooked, exudes mucilage. It is abundantly consumed.

Can be prepared boiled, steamed or braised and curryes. It is rich in iron, calcium and beta carotene.

Overripe fruits are fibrous and unpalatable.

In local markets, where okra consumption is common, you can find dried okra.

Ripe and cooked seeds are edible and very aromatic. After cooking (Raw okra contains toxic ingredients) are added to purees, in the preparation of tofu and tempeh. They are rich in proteins and oils.

The root is also edible, but it is very stringy and unpleasant to taste.

- Seasoning: the leaves can be dried, powdered and stored for later use as flavoring.

- Thickener: Because of its content in pectin fiber, it is used as a thickener for soups, stews and sauces.

- Coffee substitute: The roasted seeds are used to prepare a replacement drink of coffee without caffeine, with appreciated flavor and aroma.

- Okra oil: Seeds contain up to 22% edible oil, so they can be used for extracting oil. Okra oil is rich in Omega 9 oleic acid and palmitic acid.

* More information on Okra recipes in the listing above.

Okra as a curative plant

All parts of the plant have medicinal properties. The fruit is demulcent, diaphoretic, diuretic and emollient. The roots and leaves are vulnerary. The seeds were formerly used as stimulant and antispasmodic.

- Feeding of animals: used for livestock feed because it is high in protein (seeds found inside the fruit). However, the seeds are rich in gossypol, a pigment that can be toxic if ingested in large quantities by livestock.

- Other uses: Plant fiber can be used to make paper and fishing nets.

Composition of Okra

- Carbohydrates: pentosan

- Protein: It contains proline, leucine, arginine, alanine, lysine, cystine, glutamic acid, phenylalanine.
It should be combined with high biological value proteins.

- Fats: Poor fat.

- Fiber: pectins

- Alpha-tocopherol (seeds), gamma-tocopherol (seeds), riboflavin, vitamin C, folacin

- Minerals: potassium, magnesium, iron, manganese, zinc, copper

- Oxalates

- Flavonoids: quercetin, rutin, gossypetin (pigment in the flower), gossypol (seeds).

- Phytosterols (fruit)

- Anthocyanins: cyanidin-4-glucoside, cyanidin-3-glucoside.

Composición nutricional de la Okra por 100g.

Nutriente

Contenido

Calories (kcal.)

33

Carbohydrates (g.)

7,63

Protein (g.)

2

Fat (g.)

0,10

Fiber (g.)

3,20

Vitamin C(mg.)

21,20

Vitamin B1 (Thiamin) (mg.)

0,20

Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) (mg.)

0,06

Vitamin B3 (Niacin) (mg.)

1

Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine) (mg.)

0,22

Vitamina B9 (Folic acid -) Folates (mcg.)

88

Vitamin A (UI)

660

Vitamina E (mcg. eq. retinol)

66

Calcium (mg.)

81

Magnesium (mg.)

57

Phosphorus (mg.)

63

Sodium (mg.)

8

Potassium (mg.)

303

Iron (mg.)

0,80

Zinc (mg.)

0,60

Copper (mg.)

0,09

Selenium (mcg.)

0,70

Water (g.)

89,58

what is okra good for?

Because of its composition, okra is a vegetable rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals and flavonoids beneficial for cardiovascular health. It has antioxidant, laxative and diuretic properties.

It is suitable in any balanced diet for healthy fiber intake.

It is also recommended for weight loss plans, people with hypertension, diabetes and cholesterol.

Attention !! For its content in oxalates, you should boil okra before cooking it (discard the broth) and combine with calcium-rich foods, such as almonds, yogurt or cheese

PUNTO ROJO More information on okra recipes and properties in the listing above.

Other interesting articles

This material is for informational purposes only. In case of doubt, consult the doctor.
"Botanical" is not responsible for damages caused by self-medication.

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