Okra is gaining a reputation as a popular “superfood” for people with or at risk of diabetes and in weight loss. Commonly referred to as ladyfingers, or by its biological names Hibiscus esculentus and Abelmoschus esculentus, okra is known to have a positive effect on blood sugar control, among its many health benefits.
How Can Okra Help Treat Diabetes?
Evidence of okra containing anti-diabetic properties has increased in recent years, with multiple Vivo (animal) and Vitro (laboratory) studies, confirming okra as a potent anti-diabetic and blood glucose-lowering food.
In a study, published in 2011 in the Journal of Pharmacy & BioAllied Sciences, researchers in India found that diabetic mice which were fed dried, ground okra peels and seeds experienced a reduction in their blood glucose levels, while others showed a slow decrease in blood glucose following regular feeding of okra extract for about 10 days.
Many individuals with diabetes have reported decreasing blood sugar levels after soaking okra pieces in water overnight and then consuming the juice in the morning.
1. Anti-Fatigue Properties
One study indicates that fatigue levels and recovery times can be improved by use of the okra plant. By including okra in your diet plan along with a healthy exercise plan, you may be able to work out for longer and recover more quickly from your exercise.
Cardiovascular activity is an important part of preventing and treating diabetes. This means that the okra plant may contribute to a more active lifestyle.
2. Anti-Stress Properties
Studies have proven that the seed extracts of okra have an anti-stress, antioxidant effect in the bloodstream of mice. Managing stress levels is a key part of managing diabetes.
Long-term, high stress levels can cause your blood sugar levels to go up. Mental health should be a key part of any diabetes treatment plan. Also, using okra and its derivative seeds can be a part of that plan.
3. Dietary Fiber
Okra is loaded with fiber. Eight medium-sized pods contain about 3 grams of fiber. This fiber property has several benefits. It helps cuts hunger cravings, digestion and keeps those who eat it fuller for longer.
Foods that are loaded in fiber content are an essential part of dietary treatment options for diabetes. Increased dietary fiber intake has been reported to improve insulin sensitivity and promote better glycemic control.
4. Lower Cholesterol
Okra has been found to help in lowering cholesterol levels in diabetic lab mice. Foods with antioxidant qualities and high fiber content are recommended for those with diabetes because they lower cholesterol.
The American Heart Association states that individuals with diabetes are more likely to have unhealthy cholesterol levels. When high cholesterol levels are combined with diabetes, the outlook is not good. That is why it is very important to make sure that your diet has healthy cholesterol levels.
Okra Helps in Weight Loss
Okra is a low calorie vegetable and is a perfect source of dietary fibre. Dietary fibre is known to keep a person sated and also helps in promoting healthy digestive system. Okra can be steamed, salted and consumed to reap its nutritional benefits.
1. Fat Content
The fat content in okra is .3 grams, or less than 1% of the 65 grams USDA daily value. Fat is a nutrient that provides a high number of calories in your diet. Including no more than the recommended daily fat requirement in your diet, is essential for avoiding weight gain.
Just one cup of okra provides 4 grams of fiber, or 14% of the 28 grams USDA daily value. Fiber helps you in losing weight, filling you up and satisfying your appetite.
Also, fiber in combination with other foods and nutrients in your stomach, slows gastric emptying into the intestines and absorption into bloodstream. Slow digestion helps in improving blood glucose balance, an important element for improving weight maintenance and regulating metabolism.
3. Glycemic Index
The glycemic index of okra is categorized in the low range, a consequence of its minimal effect on blood glucose. The impact of foods on blood glucose effects the rate of weight loss, due to the fact that high-glycemic foods increase blood sugar.
Insulin helps in removing excess glucose from the blood and stores it in the liver and muscles. The body reacts by sending hunger signals to your brain to replace the removed blood glucose it needs for energy.
photo credit: pixabay