Okra, mostly called lady’s fingers or bhindi, are often cooked in Indian households. Bhindi ki sabzi with roti is a popular food combination that we enjoy for lunch or dinner. Turns out, okra is a superfood that is beneficial for diabetics. As per a 2013 study in the US National Library of Medicine, roasted okra seeds have a positive effect on lowering blood sugar. Read on to find out the benefits of okra for diabetics and how you can go beyond bhindi ki sabzi.
Nutritional value of okra
Okra is a nutritious vegetable that provides several essential nutrients, says Dr Mohammad Safir Haidar, Emergency Medicine, Cygnus Laxmi Hospital, Varanasi.
Hundred grams of raw okra consists of –
• Calories: Approximately 33 calories
• Carbohydrates: About 7 grams
• Fiber: Roughly 3 grams
• Protein: Around 2 grams
• Fat: Less than 1 gram
• Vitamins: Okra is a good source of vitamins C, K and folate.
• Minerals: The green coloured vegetable with edible seeds contains potassium, magnesium and calcium.
What are the benefits of okra for diabetics?
Okra is an aphrodisiac, and it can also be beneficial for people with diabetes. Some of the benefits are as follows:
1. Low glycemic index
Okra has a low glycemic index, which means it can help to regulate blood sugar levels by preventing rapid spikes, explains the expert.
2. High fiber content
The fiber in okra helps to slow down the digestion and absorption of carbohydrates. This in turn helps to reduce blood sugar spikes after meals.
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3. Rich in antioxidants
Okra contains antioxidants like quercetin and catechins that can help to protect cells from damage caused by high blood sugar levels.
4. May improve insulin sensitivity
Okra may improve insulin sensitivity, helping the body to use insulin more effectively. Insulin is important as it is a hormone that helps to control your blood sugar levels.
Drinking okra water in the morning for diabetics
Drinking okra water in the morning is a home remedy for diabetes that many believe in. It involves soaking sliced okra in water overnight and then drinking the water in the morning. While some people believe it can help lower blood sugar levels, scientific evidence supporting this practice is limited, notes Dr Haidar. There is one 2015 study published in the US National Library of Medicine that showed that okra water improved the blood sugar levels of pregnant rats with gestational diabetes. But there are no studies involving humans and okra water. It’s important to consult a doctor before relying solely on okra water to manage diabetes.
But you can always include okra in a diabetic-friendly diet for which you should pick up fresh bhindi that don’t have bruises, green in colour and not blackish and are firm to the touch.
Here are some ways:
• Steam or roast okra with minimal oil and seasonings for a low-calorie and high-fiber side dish.
• Make a healthy okra soup with lean protein sources like chicken or tofu, and add other non-starchy vegetables for a balanced meal.
• Stir fry okra with lean protein and plenty of colourful vegetables so that you get a nutritious meal.
• Grill okra with a touch of olive oil and herbs for a tasty and nutritious side dish.
• Add frozen okra to your morning smoothie for an extra boost of fiber and nutrients.
Okra can be a valuable addition to a diabetic diet, but it should be part of a balanced and well-planned eating pattern.