Dr. Ochuko Erikainure, a Senior Research Officer at the Federal Institute of Industrial Research, Oshodi, Lagos State, has warned that Okra also called Okro, though very nutritious, can lead to infertility in men of reproductive age.
Erukainure, also a nutritionist and biochemist, added that the vegetable also has some form of effect on sex.
He said: “Okra is a hardy plant that can grow even with less water and in hot conditions. It has a unique substance called Gossypol.
“Gossypol inhibits sperm production and motility by blocking several enzymes that are highly important in energy metabolism in sperm and sperm producing cells.
“Okra seeds are very rich in toxic pigment called Gossypol, which promote infertility in men by arresting sperm production (spermatogenesis) even at lower dose.
“Gossypols are oil soluble and natural polyphenol secreted by plants as a defence against predators.”
The senior researcher, who said in some countries, okra seeds were used as natural contraceptive for men, also listed its health benefits.
He said: “Due to proapoptotic (killing of cells) activities in okra seeds, gossypol is still under investigation as a possible anticancer agent.”
“Okra is very high in dietary fibres, reduces calories intakes into the body, ability to limit nitric oxide build up in the blood and lipid (fat) and reduces the risks of cancers.
“Okra is an African vegetable that has been a staple of African and Indian cuisine for many years and also used for medicinal purposes.
“One hundred grammes of okra have been reported to meet over 20 per cent of the daily values, which the body needs.
“It contains a rare combination of carbohydrates, vegetables, minerals, vitamins and also a potent anti-diabetic source, which can be attributed to its chemical constituents.
“Not less than 10 different vitamins and minerals can be found in okra such as vitamin A, which is great for the skin, vitamin C and E which prevent cell damage in the body.”