Okra, also known as gumbo or ladies fingers, is a warm-season vegetable. It is a good source of minerals, vitamins, antioxidants, and fiber. It contains a sticky juice that people use to thicken sauces.
Gumbo is popular in the southern United States, part of Africa and Middle East, the Caribbean, and South America.
It is an essential crop in many countries due to its high nutritional value. Also, people can use many parts of the plant, including the fresh leaves, buds, flowers, pods, stem, and seeds.
Okra has a mild taste and a unique texture, with a peach-like
Okra, also known as “lady’s finger,” is a green flowering plant. Okra belongs to the same plant family as hibiscus and cotton. The term “okra” most commonly refers to the edible seedpods of the plant.
Okra has long been favored as a food for the health-conscious. It contains:
It’s low in calories and has a high dietary fiber content. Recently, a new benefit of including okra in your diet is being cosidered. Okra has been suggested to help manage blood sugar in cases of type 1, type 2, and gestational diabetes.
Incidences of diabetes diagnoses are only increasing, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The verdict is out on whether okra can be used successfully as a direct diabetes treatment. However, the okra plant does have many proven health benefits. Read on to see if okra could be a viable part of your diabetes treatment plan.
■ Okra belongs to the same plant family as hibiscus and cotton. The term “okra” most commonly refers 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.
■ Popular forms of okra for medicinal purposes include okra water, okra peels, and powdered seeds.
STUDIES ON OKRA AND DIABETES
Medical research on okra for diabetes management is still in early stages. We do know that according to one study, okra water improved the blood sugar levels of pregnant rats that has gestational diabetes.
Roasted okra seeds, which have long been used in Turkey to treat diabetes, have also been studied and proven to have a positive effect on lowering blood sugar.
Okra is high in fiber. Eight medium-sizedmpods are estimated to contain 3 grams of fiber. The bulk fiber quality has several benefits. It helps digestion, cuts hunger cravings, and keeps those who eat it fuller for longer.
Foods that are high in fiber content are an important part of dietary treatment options for diabetes. Increased dietary fiber intake has been shown to promote better glycemic control and improve insulin sensitivity.
There is evidence that the seed extract of okra have an antioxidant, anti-stress effect in the bloodstream of mice.
Managing stress levels is an important part of managing diabetes. Long-term, high stress levels can cause blood sugar levels to spike.
MAY HELP LOWER CHOLESTEROL
Okra has been found to lower cholesterol levels in lab mice with diabetes.
Foods with high fiber content and antioxidant qualities are recommended for those with diabetes because they lower cholesterol. The American Heart Association points out that people with diabetes are more likely to have unhealthy cholesterol levels.
When high cholesterol levels are combined with diabetes, the outlook is not good. That’s why it’s so critical to make sure that your diet has healthy cholesterol levels.
One study indicates that recovery times and “fatigue levels” can be improved by use of the okra plant.
By including okra in your diet along with a healthy exercise routine, you may be able to work out for longer and recover more quickly from your exercise.
Cardiovascular activity is an essential part of preventing and treating diabetes. This means that the okra plant may contribute to a more active lifestyle.
RICH IN NUTRIENTS
Okra boasts an impressive nutrient profile.
One cup (100 grams) of raw okra contains:
●Carbs: 7 grams
●Protein: 2 grams
●Fat: 0 grams
●Fiber: 3 grams
●Magnesium: 14% of the Daily Value (DV)
●Folate: 15% of the DV
●Vitamin A: 14% of the DV
●Vitamin C: 26% of the DV
●Vitamin K: 26% of the DV
●Vitamin B6: 14% of the DV
Okra is an excellent source of vitamin C and K1. Vitamin C is a water-soluble nutrient that contributes to your overall immune function, while vitamin K1 is a fat-soluble vitamin that’s known for its role in blood clotting.
Additionally, okra is low calories and carbs and contains some protein and fiber. Many fruits and vegetables lack protein, which makes okra somewhat unique.
Eating enough protein is associated with benefits for weight management, blood sugar control, bone structure, and muscle mass.
CONTAINS BENEFICIAL ANTIOXIDANTS
Okra packss many antioxidants that benefit your health.
Antioxidants are compounds in food that fend off damage from harmful molecules called free radicals.
The main antioxidants in okra are polyphenols, including flavonoids and isoquercetin, as well as vitamin A and C.
Research shows that eating a diet high in polyphenols may improve heart health by lowering your risk of blood clots and oxidative damage.
Polyphenols may also benefit brain health due to their unique ability to enter your brain and protect against inflammation.
These defense mechanisms may help protect your brain from symtoms of aging and improve cognition, learning, and memory.
MAY LOWER HEART DISEASE RISK
High cholesterol levels are associated with a greater risk of heart disease.
Okra contains a thick gel-like substance called mucilage, which can bind to cholesterol during digestion, causing it to be excreted with stools rather than absorbed inyo your body.
One 8-week randomly divided mice into 3 groups and fed them a high-fat diet containing 1% or 2% okra powder or a high-fat diet without okra powder.
The mice on the okra diet elimated more cholesterol in their stools and had lower total blood cholesterol levels than the control group.
Another possible heart benefits of okra is its polyphenol content. One 4-year study in 1,100 people showed that those who ate a diet rich in polyphenols had lower inflammatory markers associated with heart disease.
MAY HAVE ANTICANCER PROPERTIES
Okra contains a type of protein called lectin, which may inhibit the growth of human cancer cells.
One test-tube study in breast cancer cells found that the lectin in okra may prevent cancer cell growth by up to 63%.
Another test-tube study in metastatic mouse melanoma cells discovered that okra extract caused cancer cell death.
Keep in mind that these studies were performed in test-tubes with concentrated and extracted components of okra. More human research is needed before any conclusion can be drawn.
MAY LOWER BLOOD SUGAR
Maintaining healthy blood sugar levels is very important for yoor overall health. Consistently high blood sugar can lead to prediabetes and type 2 diabetes.
Research in mice indicates that eating okra or okra extract may help decrease blood sugar levels.
In one study, rats given liquid sugar and purified okra experienced fewer blood sugar spikes than animals in the control group.
Researchers suggested that the okra decreased sugar absorption in the digestive tract, leading to a more stable blood sugar response.
That said, okra may interfere with metformin, a common diabetes medication. Therefore, eating okra is not recommended for those taking this drug.
BENEFICIAL FOR PREGNANT WOMEN
Folate (vitamin B9) in an important nutrient for pregnant women. It helps lower the risk of a neural tube defect, which affects the brain and spine of a developing fetus.
It’s recommended that all women of childbearing age consume 400 mcg of folate every day.
A review that included 12,000 healthy adult women found that consumed just 245 mcg of folate per day, on average.
Another study that followed 6,000 non-pregnant women over 5 years discovered that 23% of participants had inadequate folate concentration in their blood.
Okra is a good source of folate, with 1 cup (100 grams) providing 15% of a women’s daily needs for this nutrient.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Okra is a nutritious food with many health benefits.
It’s rich in magnesium, folate, fiber, antioxidants, and vitamin C, K1 and A.
Okra may benefit pregnant women, heart health, and blood sugar control. It may even have anticancer properties.