Fried okra contains approximately 130-160 calories per 3.5 ounces (100 grams) depending on whether it is breaded or not. Fried okra is a popular Southern dish made by coating sliced okra pods in cornmeal or batter and deep frying until crispy. The calorie count can vary based on factors like oil used, cooking method, and portion size.
Calories in Fried Okra Per Ounce
Here are the approximate calories for fried okra per ounce:
|1 ounce fried okra (about 5-7 pods)||40-50 calories|
|2 ounces fried okra (10-15 pods)||80-100 calories|
|3 ounces fried okra (15-20 pods)||120-150 calories|
As you can see, the calorie count increases with the serving size. A standard serving of fried okra is around 3.5 ounces or 20 pods, which contains about 130-160 calories.
Factors Affecting Fried Okra Calories
There are several factors that affect the calorie content in fried okra:
Okra pods coated in breadcrumbs or batter before frying contain more calories than plain fried okra. The extra breading adds carbohydrates and boosts the calorie density. Breaded fried okra has about 130-150 calories per 3.5 ounces while plain fried okra has around 110-120 calories.
The type of oil used for frying also impacts the calorie amount. Frying in heart-healthy oils like avocado, olive or canola oil adds less fat and calories than frying in vegetable, peanut or coconut oil. Choosing healthier oils can reduce the calories by up to 20%.
Deep frying okra adds more oil and calories compared to pan frying or air frying. Deep frying is the traditional method but air frying is a healthier option. Air fried okra has around 30-40% fewer calories than deep fried since it uses little to no oil.
Calories increase linearly with portion size. Eating a larger amount of fried okra increases the total calorie intake. Sticking to a 3.5-4 ounce portion controls calories. Larger 6-8 ounce portions can double the calories.
Nutrition Facts for Fried Okra
Here are the nutrition facts for a 3.5 ounce serving of fried okra prepared with cornmeal breading and fried in canola oil:
As you can see, fried okra is high in fat from the oil and also provides carbohydrates from the cornmeal breading. It contains a small amount of protein and fiber. Fried okra is not a significant source of sugars or cholesterol when prepared properly.
Health Benefits of Okra
Okra is a nutritious vegetable pod loaded with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Here are some of the top health benefits of okra:
Rich in Vitamin C
Okra provides over 20% of the RDI of vitamin C per serving. Vitamin C boosts immunity, skins health and iron absorption.
High in Fiber
It contains 3 grams of fiber per 100 grams. The high fiber content benefits digestion, heart health and blood sugar control.
Contains Vitamin A
Okra is high in beta-carotene which is converted to vitamin A in the body. Vitamin A promotes healthy vision and cell growth.
Good Source of Folate
It provides 15% of the folate RDI. Folate is an important nutrient for pregnant women as it prevents neural tube defects in babies.
Rich in Antioxidants
Okra contains high levels of antioxidants including flavonoids, tannins, carotenoids and phenols. These antioxidants reduce oxidative damage and lower disease risk.
May Help Control Blood Sugar
Some research indicates the fiber and antioxidants in okra may help stabilize blood sugar levels and control diabetes symptoms.
Provides Important Minerals
Okra contains decent amounts of calcium, magnesium, potassium, manganese and iron. These minerals are vital for bone health, metabolism, immunity and blood health.
Downsides of Eating Fried Okra
Here are some downsides of eating fried okra:
High in Calories
The combination of starch, batter and oil leads to a high calorie food. Frying adds a lot of calories from fat which can add excess weight if consumed in large amounts.
May Contain Trans Fats
Frying in hydrogenated vegetable oils high in trans fats increases heart disease risk. Choosing healthier oils avoids this issue.
Can Contain Acrylamide
Deep frying starchy foods at high temperatures may produce acrylamide, a potential carcinogen. Air frying avoids acrylamide formation.
Frying causes some loss of water-soluble vitamins like vitamin C compared to cooking okra other ways. Raw or boiled okra has higher vitamin content.
The cornmeal breading and frying process lowers the fiber content versus raw or boiled okra.
Healthier Ways to Cook Okra
Here are some healthy cooking methods for okra that avoid the extra calories and fat of frying:
Boil whole okra pods in water for 2-3 minutes until vibrant green. Season with spices as desired.
You can steam whole okra pods in a steamer basket for 3-5 minutes until tender.
Toss okra in olive oil, spread on a baking sheet and roast at 400°F for 15-20 minutes.
Grill sliced okra for 5-7 minutes, flipping once. Brush with oil to avoid sticking.
Sauté okra in a skillet with a small amount of oil for 5-7 minutes until browned.
Simple Healthy Okra Recipes
Here are a few healthy okra recipes that don’t involve frying:
Ingredients: Okra, olive oil, Cajun seasoning, salt, pepper. Instructions: Toss okra with oil, Cajun seasoning and salt. Roast at 425°F for 15 minutes.
Lemon Garlic Okra
Ingredients: Okra, olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, parsley. Instructions: Saute okra and garlic in oil. Season with lemon juice and parsley.
Okra Tomato Salad
Ingredients: Okra, cherry tomatoes, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, basil. Instructions: Mix together all ingredients and season with salt and pepper.
Is Fried Okra Healthy?
Okra is a nutritious vegetable that provides vitamin C, folate, fiber and antioxidants. However, the negatives of frying outweigh the potential benefits of the okra itself. Frying adds a lot of calories from oil along with other potential downsides.
Occasionally enjoying fried okra is fine but it should not be a regular part of your diet. Choose healthier cooking methods like roasting, grilling or steaming to maximize the nutrition from okra.
Fried okra contains about 130-160 calories in a standard 3.5 ounce serving, with the exact amount depending on factors like breading, frying method and oil. While okra itself is a healthy vegetable, deep frying can add excess calories, fat, and potentially unhealthy compounds like trans fats or acrylamide. For the highest nutrition, minimize fried okra and instead choose cooking methods like roasting, grilling or sautéing.