What is okra?

Traditionally, okra (gossypol) has not been a common food in most parts of the United States and is mostly found in southern cooking dishes. Yet, the vegetable has recently become a trendy food among the millennial crowd, and with good reason. Okra is a nutritious and medicinal vegetable. It is also used by many families especially in Asia and Africa. However, recent studies show that okra may have a negative effect on male fertility.

How does okra affect male fertility?

Despite its nutritional and medicinal values, okra is associated with sterility in humans especially men due to the presence of gossypol in the seed. In fact, gossypol has been researched as a male contraceptive. Some studies claimed that excess consumption of okra may have injurious effects on sperm parameters, testes weight, and testicular tissues. These detrimental effects may subsequently reduce male fertility or cause male infertility. 

What are the health benefits of okra?

Okra belongs to the same plant family as hibiscus and cotton. When most people talk about using okra in recipes, they usually refer to the edible seedpods of the plant. Okra contains potassium, vitamin B, vitamin C, folic acid, and calcium. It’s low in calories and has a high dietary fiber content.

Studies show that okra possesses a number of important biological activities, including antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory, antibacterial, anticancer, antidiabetic, organ protective, and neuropharmacological activities. In addition to these powerful built-in protectors, the plant also has lipid-lowering and antifatigue activities. 

Should my partner and I eat okra or avoid it?

Studies come out every day stating you should eat this or not eat that, which gets confusing when many of the foods have health benefits. If you consume a lot of okra, the best thing to do is check in with your doctor and ask if consuming the vegetable might hinder your fertility.


Gossypol (okra): a contraceptive for men

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