by: Amy Reeder, MS, RD, CDE

A registered dietitian and CDE discusses the benefits eating okra provides for diabetes care.

Living in the West, okra has never been a staple in the diets of the patients I have counseled for diabetes, like it might be in the South or other areas of the country. But lately there’s been a significant amount of talk about how okra can lower blood sugar or be a so-called cure for type 2 diabetes. No matter what you hear or read about okra, know that it definitely cannot make anyone’s diabetes go away. But okra can be a healthy addition to anyone’s diet.

Okra is a green vegetable that contains edible seed pods. It is a good source of fiber and also contains a substantial amount of antioxidants called flavonoids. Some claim that boiling okra to make “okra water” to drink has a blood glucose-lowering effect. Others suggest that eating raw okra is the trick to lowering blood sugar.

Okra may have a blood sugar-lowering effect for two reasons:

  1. Okra is a good source of viscous fiber. This type of fiber absorbs water in the digestive tract and swells to form a thick jelly-like mass. This thick substance slows the rate at which food is broken down and glucose (sugar) is absorbed in the bloodstream. If you want to visualize this type of substance, mix a fiber supplement (such as Metamucil) with a half glass of water and let it sit on the counter. After a few minutes, the fiber supplement and water will visibly be thick and jelly-like.

  2. Okra is a good source of flavonoids such as quercitin and isoquercitin. These flavonoids are plant chemicals that have beneficial antioxidant capacity in the body. Research studies done with diabetic mice have shown a benefit to blood glucose and cholesterol levels when those mice consumed foods with isoquercitin. A study in the journal Nutrition & Metabolism (2011) used tartary buckwheat bran as the flavonoid source, whereas a study in The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry (2014) used okra as the flavonoid source for the mice. In the latter study, the amount given to the mice was equivalent to greater than 3 lbs of what a human would need to eat per day to see the blood sugar- and cholesterol-lowering benefits of okra. Now that’s a lot of okra!

More research is necessary to determine if okra really is that “miracle vegetable” for people with diabetes. But with its known antioxidant properties and fiber content, there’s no harm in including it in your diet. …….


source: Diabetic Connect       Image: