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  • Is Okra Good For Constipation? Okra Benefits, Okra Nutrition + Okra Side Effects

    Is Okra Good For Constipation? Okra Benefits, Okra Nutrition + Okra Side Effects

    Is okra good for constipation? It has many health benefits. It’s rich in a number of nutrients (see ‘okra nutrition’ below) and according to Ayurveda, is beneficial for Vata, Pitta and Kapha dosha (all the body types). Does that mean okra is good for constipation?

    If you know a little about Ayurveda, you’re probably guessing yes. And you’re right! So let’s explore.

    In this article, we’ll cover some basic information like okra benefits, okra nutrients and this important question, is okra good for constipation? We’ll also give you the Ayurvedic properties of okra with some tips on how to cook it to enhance the okra benefits.

    Here’s a quick rundown of what we’ll cover in this article.

    About Okra
    Okra + Ayurveda
    Okra Benefits / Okra Nutrition
    Okra Nutrition (In One Half Cup Cooked Okra)
    Is Okra Good For Constipation?
    Why Okra Works For Constipation

    Other Health Benefits Of Okra
    Okra Side Effects + Other Last Minute Things

    Lady fingers on a cutting board. Is okra good for constipation? Okra benefits and okra nutrition is numerous. Okra side effects are zero.

    About Okra

    The Encyclopedia Britannica says that this vegetable is a member of the mallow family (Malvaceae) and produces large yellow flowers.

    The fruit or pod measures about 4-10 inches (10-25 cm) and only the tender unripe fruit is eaten.1 

    Okra becomes gloopy or thick when boiled and is used to thicken stews, broths and soups. You can also prepare it by pickling, sauteing or frying it. Other names for okra include lady’s fingers (or, ladies fingers), bhindi, bamia or gumbo.

    Okra + Ayurveda

    The ancient Ayurvedic teacher named Charak described Bhandi (okra) as a Vata Pitta pacifier.2 What does that mean? If you don’t yet speak Ayurveda, here’s a quick rundown.

    Ayurveda – the ancient natural medicine of India and the sister science to yoga – recognizes that the five elements of the earth (Space, Air, Fire, Water and Earth) act and dwell within us as three doshas, or mind-body principles.

    When these five elements – or doshas – are imbalanced, either in excess or in lack, the disease process sets in and you begin to experience symptoms.

    The Different Doshas

    You’ll all have some combination of Vata, Pitta and Kapha Dosha within you. We all do, just in different ratios.

    1. Vata Dosha is formed of Air and Space. It regulates all forms of movement in the body.
    2. Pitta Dosha is formed of Fire and Water. Pitta regulates the intelligence, metabolism, and temperature of the body.

    3. Kapha Dosha is formed of Water and Earth. It’s the structure and glue of our bodies and expresses as love, compassion, and solidity.

    Cooked okra is an excellent Pitta pacifying vegetable because it is cool and soothing.

    Raw, it would elevate Vata mildly. But cooked, it actually pacifies Vata because of its moistening, unctuous quality.

    It is best cooked for Vata dosha. Use warming Vata pacifying spices like cumin. Especially good for Vata are the sweet spices like clove, cinnamon, and cardamom because, as you may remember, the sweet taste pacifies Vata dosha.

    Because of its slightly bitter and light quality, it pacifies Kapha dosha as well, particularly if it’s cooked on the drier side and with less onion.

    So how does Ayurveda answer the question, is okra good for constipation?

    Vata body types often suffer from dry hard stools or lack of urgency.

    This green vegetable is one of the most excellent vegetables for constipation, especially when cooked with spices that stimulate the digestive fire.

    When prepared with well-cooked onion this also stimulates digestion and lubricates the intestines. It has both the sweet and heavy quality that Vata body types need.

    Learn more about Ayurvedic nutrition, check out Todd Caldecott’s course below.

    Okra Benefits / Okra Nutrition

    One of the best reasons for adding this vegetable to your diet is that it is packed full of nutrients that are essential for good health.

    The journal Food Science & Nutrition stated that it is a rich source of vital nutrients required by the body to maintain a healthy immune system.

    The researchers found that the following beneficial nutrients are found in okra.3

    • Calcium needed for strong bones and healthy teeth.
    • Iron to keep your blood healthy and produce red blood cells.
    • Potassium for maintaining normal blood pressure levels.
    • Zinc to help protect DNA and strengthen your immune system.
    • Antioxidants help to eliminate free radicals from your body and protect against diseases.
    • Dietary fiber to improve the health of your digestive system.

    The researchers concluded that this vegetable is a rich dietary source of minerals, vitamins, and nutrients. Let’s now look more closely at okra nutrition. The following numbers are from the University of Illinois Extension page on okra.

    Okra Nutrition (In One Half Cup Cooked Okra)

    These numbers should be used as a guideline only.

    • Calories = 25
    • Dietary Fiber = 2 grams
    • Protein = 1.5 grams
    • Carbohydrates = 5.8 grams
    • Vitamin A = 460 IU
    • Vitamin C = 13 mg
    • Folic acid = 36.5 micrograms
    • Calcium = 50 mg
    • Iron = 0.4 mg
    • Potassium = 256 mg
    • Magnesium = 46 mg

    Is Okra Good For Constipation?

    As we stated earlier, this green vegetable is good for Vata dosha which tends toward dry, hard stools and constipation. 

    According to recent surveys, 1-20% of the western world’s population suffers from constipation.4 The percentage varies based on demographics, age, gender, etc.

    Constipation is a condition wherein the body isn’t able to eliminate solid waste. Constipation is characterized by severe bloating, strained bowel movements, hard stools and incomplete evacuation for more than 25% of the time. As such, constipation is not life-threatening, but unnecessary negligence can lead to discomfort and misery.

    Fortunately, nature has provided various foods which can help, one of which is okra.

    Why Okra Works For Constipation5

    The fiber in okra has many superior qualities for maintaining the health of the gastrointestinal tract. It feeds the good bacteria.

    Its high percentage of water and bulky fiber helps prevent constipation, gas and bloating.

    Feeding the good bacteria like other fresh fruit and vegetables do encourages biosynthesis. This enables the body to make its own vitamin B complex.

    It is an excellent laxative treating irritable bowel syndrome, healing ulcers and soothing the gastrointestinal tract.

    Many alternative health practitioners believe all disease begins in the colon. The okra’s fiber, absorbing water and ensuring bulk in stools, helps prevent constipation.

    Fiber in general is helpful for this but okra is one of the best remedies for constipation, along with ground flax seed and psyllium. Unlike harsh wheat bran, which can irritate or injure the intestinal tract, okra’s mucilage soothes the gut, and okra facilitates elimination more comfortably with its slippery characteristic which many people abhor.

    In other words, this incredibly valuable vegetable not only binds excess cholesterol and toxins (in bile acids) which cause numerous health problems if not evacuated, but also assures their easy passage from the body.

    Other Health Benefits Of Okra

    This green vegetable 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 mucilage in this vegetable not only binds cholesterol but also the bile acid-carrying toxins dumped into it by the filtering liver. It is also hepato-protective.6

    The journal Phytotherapy Research reported that extracts of okra pods can help to treat melanoma cells and be effective against skin cancer.

    Also, okra extracts have been shown to have a positive effect in reducing breast cancer cells.7

    The fiber helps to stabilize blood sugar as it curbs the rate at which sugar is absorbed from the intestinal tract

    . A review of medical literature on the benefits of adding okra to a diet found that it is a food that has a hypoglycemic effect. Over time, okra extracts can reduce levels of glucose in the blood and can be useful in managing type 2 diabetes.8

    It reduces stress and anxiety and boosts your mood. One study found that it has an anti-anxiety, anti-stress and anti-depression effect. Supplements with this vegetable help to induce calm and reduce physiological and biochemical responses to stress. The dried okra had a similar effect to benzodiazepine drugs that treat depression and anxiety.9

    It prevents obesity. It is high in dietary fiber and low in calories. The fiber keeps you fuller for a long time, which helps in diet control and prevents obesity.

    It is low in calories but loaded with nutrients that provide nourishment to the body.

    Okra Side Effects + Other Last Minute Things

    Depending on the severity of your condition, constipation may respond to home remedies or it may need medical attention. If your constipation does not resolve within a few days’ time, seek the advice of your health care provider.

    This veggie is completely non-toxic and non-habit forming (except for the many who greatly enjoy eating it). Okra side effects are nil. Moreover, it is full of nutrients and economically within reach for most people.

    To retain most okra nutrients and self-digesting enzymes, it should be cooked as little as possible, with low heat or lightly steamed. Some people eat it raw.

    Cooked, it is essentially tri-doshik which means it is well tolerated by all three doshas or Ayurvedic constitutions. So adjust your recipe to your dosha by adjusting the kind of cooking oil you use.

    We hope you enjoyed our answer to your question, is okra good for constipation? Instead of shying away from this uncomfortable problem, a few active measures are just the need of the hour.

    If this nutrient-rich vegetable is not readily available, you may find help in the Ayurvedic formula triphala, a gentle detoxifying blend of dried, powdered fruits for the colon. Finally, eat organic, drink plenty of water, do exercise and lead a happy life!

    1. Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopaedia. “Okra.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 13 Mar. 2018, www.britannica.com/plant/okra.
    2. Dr. Ram Karan Sharma, Charaka Samhita, Chowkhamba Sanskrit Series Office, Varanasi , Sutra Sthana Vol-1, 27/107, pg-511.
    3. Gemede, Habtamu Fekadu, et al. “Proximate, Mineral, and Antinutrient Compositions of Indigenous Okra (Abelmoschus Esculentus) Pod Accessions: Implications for Mineral Bioavailability.” Advances in Pediatrics., U.S. National Library of Medicine, Mar. 2016, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4779480/.
    4. Lindberg, Gregor. “Constipation: A Global Perspective.” WGO: World Gastroenterology Organisation, World Gastroenterology Organization, Nov. 2010, www.worldgastroenterology.org/guidelines/global-guidelines/constipation/constipation-english.
    5. Dawczynski C., Schubert R., and Jahreis G.. 2007. Amino acids, fatty acids, and dietary fibre in edible seaweed products. Food Chemistry. 103:891-899.
    6. Saudi Pharmaceutical Journal, Volume 20, Issue 2, April 2012, Pages 135-141
    7. Monte, L G, et al. “Lectin of Abelmoschus Esculentus (Okra) Promotes Selective Antitumor Effects in Human Breast Cancer Cells.” Advances in Pediatrics., U.S. National Library of Medicine, Mar. 2014, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24129958.
    8. Khosrozadeh, Maryam, et al. “The Effect of Abelmoschus Esculentus on Blood Levels of Glucose in Diabetes Mellitus.” Advances in Pediatrics., U.S. National Library of Medicine, May 2016, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4955346/.
    9. Doreddula, et al. “Phytochemical Analysis, Antioxidant, Antistress, and Nootropic Activities of Aqueous and Methanolic Seed Extracts of Ladies Finger (Abelmoschus Esculentus L.) in Mice.” International Scholarly Research Notices, Hindawi, 21 Oct. 2014, www.hindawi.com/journals/tswj/2014/519848/.

    1 Response


    June 09, 2021

    Nice to know, that a VATA person can eat okra.
    My Ayurvedic doctor told me not to eat. Don’t know the reason though.

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