Okra and Gossypol

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created December 04, 2011 at 6:36 PM

I was considering eating Okra more often, like every other day, and I was wondering if anyone knew more about this substance in Okra named Gossypol which has been shown to significantly reduce the size of the testicles of African men in a study and that Gossypol was once used as a male contraceptive but was banned because it caused permanent sterilization in some men? Does anyone know if eating it regularly would cause damage, how our body deals with Gossypol or if we excrete it in smaller amounts, how much is in Okra, or more about this substance? Thank you for anyone who has any advice or who has tried to help.

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5 Answers



on December 14, 2011
at 04:41 AM

The similar-to-Paleo SCD/GAPS diets, which focus on GI track issues mostly, they don't allow okras because they are mucilaginous, which can create problems with yeast. So I don't know precisely about Gossypol, but I don't eat okras anyway, because of my GI issues.



on January 06, 2012
at 11:54 PM

LOL Yes I based on what I read, which was a good amount but I could never find how much was in the plant itself and not in the seed, I never ate any because I do not like to take risks for any significant toxin. Trypsin inhibitors are what I am focusing on now and I think I will never eat anything with those in them again as they do cause death of the enzymes that digest trypsin or some substance that is vital for protein absorption and who knows if these enzymes are able to be regenerated and for how many years we have the ability to regenerate them LOL.


on January 06, 2012
at 11:01 PM

Wow.. I'm glad I read this. I lactofermented a bunch of okra this week and was kind of grossed out by the slimey juice in the jar. I'll be sure to throw that part out and limit our intake.


on January 06, 2012
at 10:45 PM

Gossypol is also very high in cottonseed. This is just a hypothesis, but it could be connected to alzheimers. This experiment is scary: "Cottonseed toxins cause bleeding [12], [13] and [14], increased cholesterol [15] and [16], and changes in membrane permeability [17] and [18] which are relevant in Alzheimer’s....A preliminary experiment has been done. Female rats were fed low levels of cottonseed in different forms for their lifetimes as part of a 14% soy protein diet. One group of female rats was fed 0.13% whole cottonseed for their lifetimes. Brains were examined histopathologically by Bielchowsky stain. An example of the lesions observed in brain in shown in Fig. 1. These lesions appear to be neurofibrillary tangles. Of an original group of 13 female rats fed 0.13% cottonseed, five of the five rats showed such apparent neurofibrillary tangles (868–1030 days survival). Preliminary evaluation of these lesions found phosphorylated tau (in three separate rats) [54], one of the major events in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s. These results need to be replicated and confirmed. Other female rats fed lesser amounts of cottonseed (0.013%) showed similar lesions."

Gossypol can also be found in factory farmed meat and fish that are fed cottonseed, particularly in the liver.


on December 04, 2011
at 09:17 PM

A good friend of mine did some work on gossypol a few years back with particular focus on its potential usefulness as an anti-psoriatic agent. She did quite a good review of gossypol (which you should be able to get full-text either from an academic library or via the main library body - such as the British Library here in the UK). http://informahealthcare.com/doi/abs/10.1517/13543784.14.11.1419 Although by no means an expert on gossypol, I understand that the the cotton plant is one of the best sources of gossypol (gossypium). Whether the levels in okra are enough to cause any long term 'issues' I'm not sure but it certainly 'aint there in the levels found in the cotton plant: http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/jf00092a038

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