Is Okra A Starchy Vegetable?

Is Okra A Starchy Vegetable

So, is okra actually starchy or what?

We’ve all heard that okra is a healthy veggie, but did you ever stop to wonder—is okra a starchy vegetable or not? I know, right? It seems like a simple question, but it’s surprisingly unclear! Whenever I buy okra at the store or see it in recipes, I find myself puzzling over whether I should count it as a carb or not. I mean, it has those big ole pods, but it’s also all slimy inside. Surely all that slime can’t just be starch, can it? Well, wonder no more, my veggie-loving friends, because today we’re getting to the bottom of this okra conundrum.

In this article, I’m breaking down okra’s composition, comparing it to clearly starchy and non-starchy veggies, and giving you a definitive answer—once and for all—on whether this mysterious plant falls into the starchy or non-starchy camp. Get ready to get enlightened, y’all!

What is a starchy vegetable?

Before we dive into okra, we need to understand what classifies a vegetable as “starchy.” At their most basic, starchy vegetables are high in one very important macronutrient: starch. Starch is a type of complex carbohydrate made up of glucose molecules linked together in chains. When we digest and break down these starches, they break down into individual glucose sugars that are then absorbed into our bloodstream. This is why starchy foods tend to cause more of a spike in our blood sugar levels compared to non-starchy veggies.

Some clear-cut examples of starchy veggies include potatoes, corn, peas, winter squash, and beans. These guys are loaded with digestible starch—a medium potato can contain over 25 grams! Even lesser-starch vegetables like carrots still pack around 5 grams per piece. Anything over 5 grams of total carbs that comes from starch is generally considered starchy.

Now don’t get it twisted—starch isn’t inherently bad. Our bodies do need glucose for energy. But it’s important to understand which foods will affect our blood sugar the most so we can make balanced choices. That’s where okra comes in…Let’s see where it fits!

Starchy vs. Non-Starchy: What’s the Difference?

Now that we understand what defines a vegetable as “starchy,” let’s compare the key nutritional differences between the starchy and non-starchy veggie categories.

Carbohydrates: Starchy veggies are higher in total carbohydrates, with a large portion coming from digestible starches. Non-starchy veggies have fewer total carbs, with starches making up a small percentage.

Fiber: Non-starchy veggies are higher in fiber, both soluble and insoluble. Fiber helps regulate digestion and blood sugar levels.

Glycemic Index: The sugar from starchy carbs causes a greater rise and fall in blood sugar compared to non-starchy veggies, which have a lower glycemic impact.

Macronutrient Profile: Starches break down into glucose, raising caloric content. Non-starchy veggies have fewer calories per serving thanks to fiber.

Portion Sizes: Recommended serving sizes are typically smaller for starchy veggies to control carb and calorie intake. Non-starchy foods can be enjoyed more liberally.

Blood Sugar Impact: Non-starchy veggies have minimal effect on blood sugar spikes and crashes, making them suitable for diabetes management.

Is Okra a starchy vegetable?

To determine if okra is starchy or not, we need to take a closer look at its macronutrient breakdown. Specifically, we want to examine its carbohydrate content and where those carbs are coming from.

A standard 100-gram serving of okra contains about 7 grams of total carbs. But not all carbs are created equal; carbohydrates actually have three main classifications: starch, sugar, and fiber.

Okra is very low in sugar, with less than 1 gram per serving. As for starch, this is where things get interesting. Despite its robust pods, research shows okra contains only around 1-2 grams of starch per 100 grams.

So if starch makes up such a small portion, what about the remaining 5–8 grams of carbs? You guessed it—fiber. Okra is packed with good stuff, containing over 5 grams of fiber per serving.

This fiber is primarily in the form of soluble mucilage. You may have noticed okra gets slimy when cooked—that’s the mucilage. It helps naturally thicken soups and stews.

How Does Okra Compare to Other Vegetables?

Now that we’ve explored okra’s individual nutritional profile, let’s see how it stacks up against other veggies we commonly categorize as starchy or non-starchy.

Typical starchy vegetables like potatoes, corn, peas, and winter squash each contain 15+ grams of starch per 100-gram serving. Some “light starch” veggies, like carrots, still pack around 5 grams.

Meanwhile, non-starchy veggies like tomatoes, bell peppers, celery, and zucchini are extremely low in starch—usually 1 gram or less per serving. Their carbohydrates primarily come from fiber.

Where does okra fit in? At only around 1-2 grams of starch per 100 grams, okra is clearly more aligned with the latter group of non-starchy options.

In terms of how it affects blood sugar levels when eaten, okra also behaves more like a non-starchy choice. Its fiber helps slow the digestive process and the release of glucose into the bloodstream.

So in conclusion, when compared side by side with other common vegetables through its starch and fiber profiles, okra undeniably falls into the non-starchy vegetable category. Those thick pods may appear starchy at first glance, but nutrition science tells a different story.

The Health Benefits of Okra

Now that we know okra is non-starchy, it’s time to explore why this vegetable should have a regular spot on your plate. Okra is packed with nutrients that promote well-being.

Fiber-rich: As we’ve covered, okra contains beneficial soluble fiber that supports digestion and healthy bowel function. Fiber helps you feel full and maintains stable blood sugar levels.

Antioxidants: Okra is a source of vitamins A, C, and K, as well as antioxidants like beta-carotene. These nutrients combat cellular damage from free radicals.

Heart Healthy: Some research associates okra with reduced LDL “bad” cholesterol and a lower risk of heart disease. These perks may stem from okra’s fiber and vitamin K content.

Blood Sugar Control: Studies show okra extracts can help regulate blood sugar by slowing carbohydrate absorption. This makes okra a potential ally for diabetes management.

Inflammation Fighting: Early investigations suggest okra’s anti-inflammatory abilities may help relieve conditions like arthritis that involve excessive inflammation.

Allergy-Friendly: Okra’s mucilage traps allergens, keeping them from crossing into the bloodstream. Some evidence even points to okra alleviating seasonal allergy symptoms.

As a nutritious non-starchy veggie full of fiber, vitamins, minerals and disease-fighting compounds, enjoying okra should certainly become part of a balanced, health-supportive diet.

How to Incorporate Okra into Your Diet

Okra is a versatile vegetable that can be used in a variety of dishes. Here are some ways to incorporate okra into your diet:

Roasted Okra

Roasting okra is a simple and delicious way to enjoy this vegetable. Simply toss sliced okra with olive oil, salt, and pepper and roast in the oven at 425°F for 20–25 minutes, or until golden brown.

Stewed Okra

Stewed okra is a classic Southern dish that is easy to prepare and incredibly flavorful. Simply sauté onion, garlic, and diced tomatoes in a skillet, then add sliced okra and seasonings such as thyme, oregano, and paprika. Cook until the okra is tender, and serve with rice or cornbread.

Grilled Okra

Grilled okra is a great addition to any BBQ or summer cookout. Simply toss sliced okra with olive oil, salt, and pepper and grill over medium-high heat for 5-7 minutes, or until tender and charred.

Pickled Okra

Pickled okra is a tangy and delicious snack that is perfect for snacking on or adding to sandwiches and salads. To make pickled okra, combine white vinegar, water, sugar, and salt in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Add sliced okra and simmer for 5 minutes, then transfer to jars and refrigerate.

Getting Creative with Okra

Soups and Stews: Okra’s natural thickening power transforms brothy creations into comfort food when added toward the end of cooking.

Gumbos and Jambalayas: A go-to ingredient in beloved Louisiana classics, okra adds substance to savory rice and seafood medleys.

Sautéed or Fried: A quick sauté or light fry brings out okra’s tender texture without compromising its nutrient density.

Salads: Try grilled okra atop fresh salad greens or diced into pasta and grain bowls for crunchy fiber.

Smoothies: Its natural slime blends seamlessly into green smoothies, adding thickness and nutrients.

Okra Chips: Thinly slice okra, toss in olive oil and seasonings, then bake until crispy for an unexpected chip.

The point is, with okra’s meaty yet inexpensive pods, the options are endless. Get creative in the kitchen and fall in love with this non-starchy, fiber-rich superfood in new and exciting ways. Your taste buds will thank you!


Does cooking destroy okra’s nutrients?

No, okra retains most of its vitamins and minerals even after cooking. In fact, some nutrients, like lycopene, become more bioavailable. Just don’t overcook.

Why does okra get slimy? Can I prevent this?

Okra’s mucilage coating becomes slimy when exposed to moisture, like in cooking. To reduce sliminess, sauté okra briefly or add it at the end of cooking other ingredients.

Is okra high in carbs? Will it spike my blood sugar?

No, okra is low in net carbs and high in fiber. Most of its carbs come from soluble fiber, which has a low glycemic impact and won’t spike blood sugar.

Can I freeze okra? What’s the best way?

Yes, you can freeze okra for longer storage. Blanch it briefly first to stop enzyme activity, then freeze it on a tray and transfer it to a bag once frozen.

Are there any risks to eating okra?

Okra is generally safe but may cause allergic reactions in sensitive individuals. Those with a latex allergy should check with their doctor before consuming.

What other vegetables are considered non-starchy, like okra?

Other non-starchy veggies include leafy greens, peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, broccoli, cauliflower, mushrooms, zucchini, and summer squash.

Can okra be eaten raw?

Yes, okra can be eaten raw, but many find the texture more palatable when cooked. In salads, try slicing it thinly or grating for a milder texture.

Does okra go bad quickly? How can I store it?

Properly stored, okra will last 5-7 days in the fridge. Look for crisp pods without sliminess. Place in a plastic bag with air removed in the veggie bin.

How do I select fresh okra? What should I look for?

Choose small to medium pods that are bright green in color without any brown spots or soft spots. Avoid okra that feels limp or shriveled. Trim off the stem ends before using.

Can okra be substituted in recipes? What for?

Try okra in place of zucchini or summer squash in recipes like fritters. Its slime also makes it a great thickening substitute for cornstarch or flour in soups.

Are there any possible drug interactions with okra?

There are no known significant drug interactions, but okra may interact with medications for diabetes due to its effects on blood sugar regulation. Monitor blood sugar levels if taking such medications.

What parts of okra are edible? Just the pods?

Yes, only the pods (fruits) of the okra plant are edible. The leaves, stems, and flowers are inedible and should be discarded.


In conclusion, we can definitively say that okra is a non-starchy, nutrient-dense vegetable that deserves a regular spot in your meals. While its lush pods may appear starchy at first glance, compelling nutrition science tells us otherwise.

Packed with soluble fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, okra offers an array of health perks, from managing blood sugar to supporting heart health. Its natural thickening properties also make it a versatile ingredient for countless savory recipes.

Best of all, okra’s negligible impact on blood glucose and insulin levels means it can be freely enjoyed as part of a balanced diet, whether managing weight, diabetes, or other health conditions.

The next time you’re looking to add an extra serving of veggies, consider keeping okra in regular rotation. With such an impressive nutritional profile and great taste, it’s a no-brainer way to boost your well-being. Your body will thank you!

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