Okra -A Compelling Nutrition for Diabetes

Let food be your medicine and medicine be your food- Ratan Tata


Are you eating a food which is a medicine?

Okra -A-Compelling-Nutrition-for-Diabetes

Okra is available as ‘lady finger’ in English speaking part of the world. It is a warm weather vegetable and named differently in different parts of the hemisphere (https://healthhelmet.com/okra-nutrition-how-filled-is-the-ladyfingersuperfood). It is a fruit and vegetable available in India, known popularly as ‘Bhindi’.

Diabetes is rampant. This symptom is a result of long term presence of high sugar level in your blood. If not treated, it can be detrimental to your eyes, cardiovascular health, nervous system, kidney failure due to the destruction of blood vessels.

But the good news is, your food and active lifestyle can reverse type 2 diabetes (more prevalent) and prevent the disease from occurring. There are multiple nutritious foods and herbs present at main stream helping diabetes patients in one way or the other.

Many people may not be familiar with okra as an emerging food to help diabetes. Let’s delve in.

Okra Nutrition is Diabetes Friendly

Okra is a nutritious fruit and vegetable.

  • Protein
  • Carbohydrate
  • Energy
  • Fiber
  • Polyphenols
  • Selenium, Manganese, Magnesium, Copper,

The nutrition panel is compelling enough to include okra in a diabetic’s diet. It’s Glycemic index is 20 and Glycemic load is 1.2 .  These numbers suggests eating okra does not spike your blood sugar which aids diabetes.

Okra Fibers Slow the Absorption of Blood Sugar

For a vegetable, okra contains high fiber amount (3.2g per 100 g with 89% water). It consists of soluble and insoluble fibers. They help support blood sugar level simply by slowing the absorption of sugar through intestine. (Ngoc et al., 2008).

Slower Digestion of Protein in Okra Help Reduce Sugar Spike

Okra contains a good amount of protein (1.93 g per 100 g with 89% water). The digestion of protein takes longer keeping you full for longer time contributing less to a blood sugar rise. It keeps you satiated.

Okra Supports a Healthy and Powerful Diabetes Diet

  • no sugar
  • low in calorie
  • Selenium, Copper, Manganese, Zinc- The anti-oxidants
  • low in carbohydrate
  • It is reservoir of phenolic compounds and they shows anti-stress symptoms.

Okra Polyphenols Relieve Oxidative Stress and Demonstrate Anti-fatigue Activity

Okra seed is rich in Phenolic compounds, mainly composed of flavonol derivatives and oligomeric catechins. (Khomsug et al.,2010). In a research study okra seeds show antioxidant activity. The blood lactic acid measurement show anti-fatigue activity.

How does Okra Perform in Medicinal Research Studies for Diabetes?

Multiple animal studies with diabetes induced rats shows okra reduces blood sugar when compared with the control.

#1: Okra seed powder mitigates multiple symptoms

In A 2018 research study with diabetes induced rats, okra seed powder was orally given for 30 days. The analysis of fasting blood sugar, cholesterol and triglyceride showed a decrease. These effects are associated with reduced pancreatic tissue damage. Pancreas is responsible for synthesizing insulin which is the hormone controlling blood sugar.

#2: The Key Polysaccharide in Okra control complex symptoms

A polysaccharide in okra isolated independently lowered body weight and glucose levels, improved glucose tolerance, and decreased total cholesterol levels in high-fat diet-fed C57BL/6 mice

In 2011 study in animal model, okra fruit extract had the anti-diabetic activity. They show increased insulin secretion and increased insulin sensitivity and inhibited carbohydrate absorption in the intestine

#3  What is the optimal formulation of okra for diabetes control?

In test tube model, a 10:90% (seeds:peel) optimal formulation has shown a reduction effect the rate of glucose adsorption thus can retard increase in blood glucose level than the other combinations tested in the study (proportions of the powdered seeds and peels samples 80:20%, 70:30%, 60:40%, 50:50%, and vice versa).

#4 How Does Okra Compare to Metformin?

In a comparative study of okra with the widely used diabetes drug metformin at 100 mg/Kg with diabetes induced mice, okra turned out to be superior to Metformin (100 mg/Kg) at day 15. In this study water was used as the control and okra was used as seed and peel.

  • Eating too much okra can cause indigestion and bloating.
  • Okra contains 26% of the daily value of vitamin K which impacts blood clotting. Talk to your physician about eating okra if you are on a blood clotting drug.

Okra water reduces blood sugar 

It is quite amazing that numerous reports show okra water reduces blood sugar.

How to make okra water


  • Add 4 pieces of 1-1.5 inch size of okra in a -150 ml of water at room temperature.
  • Leave it covered for 10-12 h.
  • Squeeze the pieces to water.
  • Dispose the filtered pieces.
  • Drink the filtered okra water in an empty stomach first thing in the morning.

Talk to your physician before you start drinking okra water for controlling blood sugar if you are on metformin.

How to make okra fry

There are multiple ways okra could be enjoyed. Many recipes are on internet. It is good to know, cooked and uncooked okra help reduce blood sugar in type 2 diabetes.


The fiber along with other inbuilt nutrition in okra benefits diabetes. The research on okra is currently limited to animals and done in test tubes and has shown promise results in the treatment of diabetes. However no studies in human have been done to the best of our knowledge.

Scientists are looking into if okra could be used as nutraceutical to treat diabetes.


Anusuya Choudhury

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