Okra: How can this nutrient-dense vegetable help you fight diabetes?


What is Okra?

The word Okra refers to edible seedpods of a plant. Okra is commonly known as Lady’s fingers which is a green flowering plant and belongs to the same plant family of hibiscus and cotton. It has very low calories and is rich in various minerals and nutrients such as potassium, folic acid, calcium, iron, phosphorus, copper, magnesium, etc.

There is a large array of Vitamins present in Okra. it has several health benefits as well and hence helps in the treatment of diabetes(Type 1, Type 2, Gestational). Okra is even helpful to a certain extent for weight loss since it has a high content of fibre in it. There are various kinds of Okra. some of the most common types of Okras are as follows.

– Emerald
– Clemson
– Annie Oakley
– Purple
– Chinese

What are the nutrients present in Okra?

There are various nutrients and minerals which are present in Okra. The names of the minerals and nutrients along with their content in 100 grams of Okra is elaborated in the table below.

Minerals and nutrients 

Content 

Calories 

33

Proteins 

1.9 grams 

Fats 

0.2 grams 

Carbohydrate 

7.5 grams 

Fibre 

3.2 grams 

Sugar 

1.5 grams 

Potassium 

299 milligrams 

Sodium 

7 milligrams 

Thiamine 

0.2 milligrams 

Magnesium 

57 milligrams

Folate 

60 micrograms 

Calcium

82 milligrams 

Vitamin A

36 micrograms 

Vitamin B6

0.215 milligrams 

Vitamin C

23 milligrams 

Vitamin K

31.3 milligrams 

What are  the ways of eating Okra?

  • If you cut and cook okra in moisture, it releases a slimy juice which increases the thickness of soups and stews.
  • Dried Okra can be used as a substitute for egg whites which is very helpful for thickening of a sauce.
  • Okra can be consumed roasted and ground as well for making a noncaffeinated substitute for coffee.

What are the benefits of eating Okra?

There are several health benefits to eating Okra. some of the benefits are elaborated below.

Okra is rich in multiple antioxidants which are extremely beneficial for health and helps in preventing various diseases and disorders in an individual. Antioxidants help in removing the free radicals or pollutant molecules from the body and hence flushes out all the harmful toxins in our body. The predominant antioxidant in okra is polyphenols as well as flavonoids and isoquercetin.

Okra also consists of Vitamin A and Vitamin C in abundance. There are several benefits of high polyphenol levels in your diets such as polyphenols help in preventing various heart diseases and disorders. Oxidative damage of the heart and the blood clot formation in the heart can also be prevented due to the presence of polyphenols in Okra. polyphenols have the ability to enter your brain and provide protection to your brain from inflammations. Hence this property can act as a defence mechanism and help in protecting your brain from the symptoms of ageing, improving cognition, learning and memory.

Okra helps in preventing heart diseases by reducing the high cholesterol level in an individual. The polyphenol content in Okra helps in preventing the development of any inflammatory markers associated with the heart. Okra consists of a gel-like substance called mucilage which can bind easily with cholesterol during digestion and can be passed or excreted with the stool of an individual. 

The protein called lectin is very essential for inhibiting human cancer cells. Lectin which is the most abundant protein in Okra can prevent the growth of breast cancer cells by 63%.

Okra is very helpful in maintaining a healthy blood sugar level which very important for maintaining an overall healthy body. Constant high blood sugar level might result in prediabetes and type 2 Diabetes. Okra decreases the sugar absorption level of the alimentary canal or the digestive tract and hence a stable blood sugar level is maintained. Okra consumption is not recommended to the people who are taking the common diabetes medication called metformin.

Vitamin B9 or Folate is an extremely important nutrient for women during their pregnancy. The risks of the neural tube defects which can affect the brain and the spinal cord of the developing fetus can be reduced or lowered by the consumption of Okra since it is rich in Folate or vitamin B9. during the gestational period of a woman, it is always recommended to consume 400 micrograms of Folate or Vitamin B9 every day.

It is very easy to add Okra to your regular diet since it is very easy to cook Okra can be used for making soups and stews like gumbo. Okra consists of a thick slimy substance called mucilage which becomes gummy after it is heated. If you do not like to eat slimy okra, you can follow the following steps to make it dry.

  • You have to cook Okra at high heat to remove the sliminess.
  • Make sure you do not crowd the pan or the skillet since it reduces the heat and causes sliminess.
  • The slime factor of Okra can be reduced by pickling the Okra.
  • Roast Okra in your oven after slicing them well. This helps in removing the gumminess.
  • Slightly char your Okra by grilling them. This is very helpful for removing the sliminess. 

How is Okra helpful in the treatment of Diabetes?

Okra is very helpful in treating Diabetes. The nutrients of Okra which help in Diabetes management are as follows:
 
Okra is rich in Fibre
 
Okra has a high content of fibre which has several health benefits. Fibre keeps you full for a very long time and cuts down on the hunger cravings. Hence it helps in weight loss. Consumption of a high fibre diet can help in promoting better glycemic control and also improves the sensitivity of the hormone called insulin.
 
Anti stressing properties of Okra 
 
Okra consists of several antioxidants. Especially the presence of Vitamin A and Vitamin C help in stress management in an individual. Long term stress or a consistent period of stress can also result in diabetes. Hence the antioxidant properties of Okra help in the management of Diabetes.
 
Okra helps in lowering the cholesterol level
 
The high fibre content of Okra and the antioxidant qualities of Okra are always recommended for the people with diabetes since they help in lowering high levels of cholesterol. High cholesterol levels along with diabetes can have severe effects on the health of an individual. Hence consumption of Okra is recommended for the people who have high cholesterol. 
 
Okra helps in removing fatigue 
 
Okra helps in fast recovery from fatigue. Some regular physical activities such as exercises which involves cardiovascular activities along with the consumption of Okra in your regular diet can also be performed regularly for preventing and treating diabetes. Hence Okra can contribute to a better and more active lifestyle.

What are the benefits of consuming Okra during pregnancy?

Okra is a food which is rich in nutrients and minerals which are extremely essential for a healthy pregnancy. Some of the most common benefits of Okra consumption during the gestational period are as follows.

  •  Vitamin C content in Okra promotes the absorption of iron which is very helpful for the growth of a  baby. The immune system of the mother is boosted by eating Okra due to the presence of vitamin C. The development of skin, bones and capillaries in a  baby is promoted by Vitamin C which is one of the most predominant vitamins present in Okra.
  • The high levels of Folate or  Vitamin B9 in Okra help in the metabolism of carbohydrates, proteins and fats. Okra consists of Vitamin B9 in a very large amount which is extremely beneficial for reducing the risks of various birth defects in a baby. Vitamin B9 or Folate in Okra also helps in the synthesis of DNA and red blood cells. 
  • The chances of any infections and cardiovascular issues are lowered since the antioxidant properties of Okra promotes the immune health of the mother as well as the baby. The antioxidants in Okra which help in promoting the immune system of the mother and the baby include carotenoids, phenolic compounds, Vitamin C and Vitamin E.
  • Okra is a rich source of fibre which helps in increasing the roughage of a person and eases the bowel movement. Hence Okra consumption helps in the prevention of constipation, especially during pregnancy. 
  • Gestational diabetes can also be prevented by the consumption of Okra which consists of soluble as well as insoluble fibre.
  • The insoluble fibre content of Okra promotes healthy digestion in an individual.
  • It is very necessary to keep a check on your blood cholesterol level always and especially during the gestational period. Eating Okra helps in maintaining the clinical range of cholesterol level.

What are the risks of consuming Okra?

There are various risks to over-consuming Okra. some individuals might experience adverse effects due to the overeating of Okra. 

  • Okra might cause gastrointestinal problems such as diarrhoea, gas, cramping as well as bloating in the case of the people who are already suffering from bowel problems. The content of Fructans which is a carbohydrate, in Okra can result in various gastrointestinal problems as mentioned.
  • The high oxalate content of Okra can lead to the development of kidney stones which generally consists of  Calcium Oxalate. The foods rich with high levels of oxalate such as spinach and Okra can elevate the risks of the development of kidney stone in an individual. 
  • Solanine is a toxic compound which is present in Okra. Solanine can trigger various health conditions such as joint pain, arthritis and inflammations in some individuals.
  • Okra contains Vitamin K in abundance which helps in the clotting of blood. The people who take blood thinner medications such as Warfarin or Coumadin are recommended not to eat Okra since it can have adverse effects on the health of an individual. Blood thinners help in preventing the clotting of blood to prevent stroke or heart attack but the consumption of Okra can increase the chances of heart diseases or disorders by promoting the clotting of blood.

5 healthy and tasteful Okra recipes 

Braised Okra 
 
The ingredients which are required for making Braised okra are as follows:
500 grams of fresh Okra 
2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar 
1/2 cup of olive oil
1 finely chopped or grated onion
500 grams of tomatoes which are puree 
A handful of fresh and chopped parsley 
Salt and pepper for taste
 
The preparation procedure 

– Wash or rinse your Okra and cut off the edges of them
– Place the Okra in a bowl and let it rest there, after sprinkling red wine vinegar. Let the Okra stand for an hour like that
– After that, you should rinse the Okra off in cold water and let it drain
– Take a heavy-bottomed saucepan and start sauteing the onion over low heat. Keep heating the onions until they become soft.
– Add Okra and some olive oil in the mixture of onion. Cook it for 5 minutes.
– You can add tomatoes, parsley and season to taste
– The whole mixture should be allowed to boil over a medium or a high heat. Then it should be allowed to simmer for approximately 20-30 minutes over low or high heat.
– You can serve the dish with crusty bread since Okra is very tender.

Okra Pickle 
      

Ingredients required are the following:
 
1 pound of Okra which is 3 and ½ to 4 inches long.
6 peeled garlic cloves 
3 cups or 24 fluid ounces of cider vinegar
1 cup of water
1/2  teaspoon of dried hot red pepper flakes
1 to 1 and 1/2  tablespoons of dill seeds 
1 tablespoon of mustard seeds 
1 and ½ tablespoons of Kosher Salt
1 tablespoon of sugar
 
The preparation process:
 
– Place the Okra in tightly packed jars and then put a clove of garlic in each of the jars.

– Take a 2-quart non-reactive saucepan and boil the rest of the ingredients.

– Toss some salt and sugar according to the desired taste. Keep stirring the mixture until the salt and the sugar gets completely dissolved.

– Pour this pickling liquid in every jar in equal quantity.

– Let it stand for a day in the jars to develop proper flavours.
 
Nigerian inspired Fish and Seafood Gumbo 
     
The ingredients which are required for cooking the dish are as follows:
2 cup of Okra which are sliced into chunks
1 tilapia fish cut into chunks or you  can also use a red snapper 
Season the chunks of fishes with salt
1 pound of peeled and deveined raw shrimps which should  be washed and seasoned with salt
Cut 3 – 4 tomatoes into chunks 
2 small red bell peppers 
Mash 2 habanero peppers into a paste
2 chilli pepper cut into very little chunks
2 cloves of garlic 
1 teaspoon of grated ginger 
A pink or purple onion grated into small chunks 
1 and 1/2 tablespoon of coconut oil
1 teaspoon of chilli pepper powder or Cameroon powder 
2 teaspoons of paprika 
1 and 1/2  teaspoon of crayfish powder or crayfish paste of the same quantity
Meat stock or water as per your need
1 handful finely chopped basil 
3 teaspoons of  flour
Bouillon 
Salt to taste 
 
The preparation procedure of this Okra delicacy 
 
– Take a cooking pot and heat some coconut oil in that 
– Add shrimp to the oil in the cooking pot and cook it until both the sides  become pink
– Transfer the cooked shrimp to a bowl. Saute it until it becomes translucent.
– Add onions and garlic and saute it over medium heat.
– Add some tomato, paprika and ginger and keep sauteing until the tomatoes get reduced a little.
– After adding some pepper mix, cook it for 5 minutes 
– Season the mixture with salt and some pepper according to the desired taste. You can also add some  basil after that
– Cook it for next 2 minutes more after which you  can toss in the shrimps and crayfish
– Add some chilli powder and set it aside 
– You can serve this dish with rice or fufu

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