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Okra for Managing Diabetes and Preventing Kidney Disease

Okra is a widely available exotic, medicinal vegetable with a gooey texture that can be purchased year round in local markets. It is high in minerals, vitamins, and other nutrients that provide many health benefits and can be used for treating diabetes, preventing kidney disease, alleviating asthma, lowering cholesterol, boosting the immune system, and promoting a healthy pregnancy.

A cup of okra contains about 30 calories, 3 grams of fiber, 2 grams of protein, 7.6 grams of carbohydrates, 0.1 grams of fat, 21 milligrams of vitamin C, 88 micrograms of folate, and 57 milligrams of magnesium.

In 2011, researchers conducted a study that was published in the journal ISRN Pharmaceutics in which researchers fed rats water-soaked sliced okra pod solution through a gastric feeding tube. The researchers found that the fiber in the okra helped reduce the absorption rate of glucose, which reduced blood glucose levels in the treated rats. Okra’s high fiber content also promotes good digestive health and lowers cholesterol levels by binding to cholesterol in other foods so that it can be excreted from the body.

Okra is also useful for alleviating asthma symptoms as it is rich in vitamin C. High amounts of vitamin C found in okra also supports the immune system as it helps to create more white blood cells, which can help protect against pathogens. A 2005 study published in the Jilin Medical Journal also indicates that okra is useful for preventing kidney disease as results showed that patients who ate okra daily had reduced signs of kidney damage more than those who were on a diabetic diet. The high levels of vitamin A, B1, B2, B6, C, and traces of zinc and calcium also promote a healthy pregnancy. The fiber and folic acid also helps prevent folic-deficient birth defects and constipation during pregnancy.

Practice Pearls:

  • A cup of okra contains about 30 calories, 3 grams of fiber, 2 grams of protein, 7.6 grams of carbohydrates, 0.1 grams of fat, 21 milligrams of vitamin C, 88 micrograms of folate, and 57 milligrams of magnesium.
  • The fiber in okra helps reduce the absorption rate of glucose which reduces blood glucose levels.
  • Okra is useful for preventing kidney disease; patients who ate okra daily had reduced signs of kidney damage.

journal ISRN Pharmaceutics2015. Web. 18 Sep 2015.