Okra, commonly known as lady’s finger, is a rich source of folate. This post highlights the benefits of okra during pregnancy. Folate is the natural form of folic acid, which is one of the essential nutrients for pregnancy. This prenatal vitamin helps prevent congenitaliXCondition or situation existing right from the birth disabilities such as neuraliXRelated to the nervous system tube defects in babies. Okra is also known to help manage blood sugar levels. Read on to know more about the benefits of having okra while pregnant, and interesting ways in which you can include the vegetable in your daily meal.
Is Okra Good For Pregnancy?
Yes, okra is a nutritious pod vegetable that is good to eat during pregnancy. It is rich in fiber, folic acid, protein, carbohydrate, Vitamin C, B3, and K, beta-carotene, potassium, calcium, and phosphorus. Whether you eat it boiled, stewed, fried or pickled, you will be able to extract nutrition from it (1).
What Are The Benefits Of Okra During Pregnancy?
The nutrients present in okra are very beneficial for pregnancy and aid in the healthy development of the baby. Read on to learn more about the benefits that okra has to offer for maternal and fetal health.
- Contain vitamin C: Vitamin C helps in the absorption of iron, which promotes the baby’s development and growth. It also boosts immunity of the mother and promotes the development of skin, bones, and capillaries in the baby (2).
Dr. Veena Madhankumar, anobstetricianiXA person specialized in the branch of medicine concerning childbirth and gynecologist from Perundurai, India, says, “Okra is a good source of major antioxidants such as carotenoids, vitamins C and E, and phenolic compounds. Antioxidants strengthen the mother’s and fetus’ immune systems and hence reduce the risk of infections and cardiovascular issues.”
- High in folate: Okra is a potent source of folate, which lowers the risk of anemia in mothers and birth defects in the baby. It also boosts the metabolism of carbs, protein and fat, and helps synthesize DNA and red blood cells (3).
- A source of antioxidants: The major antioxidants in okra include carotenoids, phenolic compounds, vitamins C and E. They promote the mother’s and baby’s immune system, and therefore lower the chances of any infections and cardiovascular issues (1).
- Contain fiber: Rich in both soluble and insoluble fiber, okra helps in abating constipation during pregnancy. Soluble fiber works to lower blood cholesterol and treats diabetes, and insoluble fiber promotes digestion (4).
Some other benefits of eating okra include reduced risk of preeclampsia and management of high blood pressure due to its fiber, potassium, magnesium, and calcium content (4).
According to Blanca Garcia, a registered dietitian nutritionist from Los Angeles, California, “The slimy part of the okra is soluble fiber, also called mucilage. It is actually favored in Asian medicine as a protection against the irritation and inflammation of intestinal diseases. This type of fiber may also help stabilize blood sugar levels and manage gestational diabetes (diabetes in pregnancy).”
Okra is not known to cause any side effects during pregnancy, which makes it a vegetable that you must include in your diet during pregnancy.
Keep reading for a breakdown of the nutrients in this vegetable.
Nutritional Value Of Okra
Nutrients present in 100 grams of okra are as follows (4):
|Thiamin (Vitamin B1)
|Riboflavin (Vitamin B2)
|Niacin (Vitamin B3)
|Pyridoxine (Vitamin B6)
|Folic acid (Vitamin B9)
|Ascorbic acid (Vitamin C)
|Retinol (Vitamin A)
|Alpha-tocopherol (Vitamin E)
|Phylloquinone (Vitamin K)
|Total saturated fatty acids
|Total monounsaturated fatty acids
|Total polyunsaturated fatty acids
g=grams; mg=milligrams; mcg=micrograms
In the following section, we tell you how to include okra in your pregnancy diet, along with a few easy recipes that you can try.
Ways To Include Okra In Pregnancy Diet
Here are some tips and precautions for including okra in your diet.
- Rinse okra thoroughly before cooking it. It minimizes any risk of infection.
- Cook on low flame to prevent loss of nutrients.
- Make delicious finger food by slitting the vegetable in half, coating with gram flour and frying in oil.
- Frying sliced okra, coated with breadcrumbs, is another way to consume okra.
Some Simple Pregnancy-Friendly Recipes You May Try
1. Okra stew
Simmered in tomato sauce with cilantro and garlic, this is a flavorful okra stew you will love.
You will need
- 1 lb okra
- 4 medium-sized tomatoes
- 3 medium-sized onions
- ¼ cup canola oil
- 1 garlic clove, peeled and sliced
- 1 bunch cilantro, finely chopped
- 1½ cup water
- ½ tsp salt
- Red pepper powder to taste
How to make
- Boil water over high flame. Cook tomatoes for one minute, and transfer them into another bowl of cold water. Peel and chop.
- Add oil to the wide pan, and add onions. Cook until they turn soft. Add tomatoes, water, cilantro, salt and red pepper.
- Stir occasionally until the mixture becomes saucy.
- Add okra, occasionally stir until they turn tender.
- Top with cilantro leaves and you can serve either warm or cold.
Preparation time: 1 hour
2. Grilled okra
A scrumptious yet straightforward okra recipe for healthy-eating pregnant women.
You will need
- 1lb okra
- 2tsp olive oil
- Ground black pepper to taste
- Salt to taste
- Pinch of cayenne pepper
How to make
- Put the okra in a grill basket.
- Apply olive oil, and place on a grill that is preheated to 450°F.
- Cook until the peel starts to caramelize, and then turn onto the other side.
- Once done, remove and sprinkle salt, pepper and cayenne pepper.
- Eat when it is warm.
Preparation time: 15min
Steps To Make Okra Water For Pregnant Women
Okra water has recently become popular as a vegetable or fruit-infused drink. The simple and easy-to-make healthy beverage is the right choice if you want to enjoy a drink without spending much time preparing it. While the nutritional content of okra water has not yet been evaluated, it may be equivalent to that of raw okra pods (5). Preparing okra water requires crushing two okra and soaking in a glass of water overnight. You can also make okra water by washing the pods first, then slicing the top and bottom off, cutting them into little pieces, and soaking them in water for several hours or overnight. Because of the natural mucilage in the okra, the resulting liquid is thick and slightly slimy. You can directly consume the water the following morning for detoxification, improved skin and vaginal health (6), and cholesterol regulation.
Garcia adds, “Okra water when made fresh, like by soaking overnight or blending okra into a smoothie, can provide a pregnant woman with some of the okra nutrients. Although there isn’t scientific research about okra water, there is research on raw okra containing B vitamins, vitamin C, plenty of soluble fiber, small amounts of protein and carbs, and about 90% water.”
Next, we answer a few commonly asked queries about eating okra during pregnancy.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Will consuming okra help during labor?
It is believed that okra will increase the chances of easy labor and delivery, but there is no scientific evidence supporting the claim.
2. Does okra cause miscarriage?
No, okra is not known to cause miscarriage and is a safe addition to your pregnancy diet.
3. Is pickled okra safe to eat during pregnancy?
Yes, pickled okra is safe as long as you take it in moderation.
Okra is almost without any side effects. You can include it every day in your diet with no worry. In case you notice any allergic reaction to the vegetable, stop its consumption and consult your doctor.
4. Is it safe to eat raw okra in pregnancy?
Okra is a high-fructose food that may cause gas, bloating, and belching in some individuals (8). Besides, consuming raw or undercooked foods may pose a risk of foodborne illnesses, especially during pregnancy, when your immune system is naturally weaker. Thus, pregnant women should avoid consuming raw okra.
Consuming lady’s finger or okra during pregnancy can enrich your diet with folate essential for fetal neuronal development. Lady’s finger is rich in vitamins, minerals, and fiber which supports the increased nutritional requirements when pregnant. In addition, its water-soluble fiber content aids digestion and helps manage diabetes. Taking okra water is also found to regulate cholesterol. You may include okra in the diet in the form of stew, fry, or roast. Okra also helps ease the process of childbirth, though the claim lacks scientific evidence.
Infographic: What Are The Benefits Of Okra During Pregnancy?
Vegetables are essential during pregnancy, and okra can protect you and your baby. Okra can help you have a healthy pregnancy and reduce the chances of typical pregnancy problems such as constipation. We bring more benefits of this veggie to help you have a healthy pregnancy and delivery.
- Okra is highly nutritious for pregnant women.
- It consists of iron, vitamins, calcium, and other nutrients and minerals.
- The fiber in okra helps treat constipation, while its antioxidants boost a healthy immune system.
- Okra is low in calories and high in nutrients, making it a healthy option for pregnant women watching their weight.
1. Nutritional Quality and Health Benefits of Okra
2. Okra, University of Arizona
3. Folic Acid factsheet, The university of North Dakota
4. J. Clifford, K. Niebaum, L. Bellows: Dietary Fiber factsheet; Colorado State University
5. Okra, raw; USDA
6. Okra Water For Women – Is It Really Healthy?; HealthyActive
7. Zhao-HuaTian et al; Therapeutic effect of okra extract on gestational diabetes mellitus rats induced by streptozotocin; Science Direct
8. Amy Fedewa and Satish S. C. Rao; (2015); Dietary fructose intolerance, fructan intolerance and FODMAPs.