Okra is a comfort food in some parts of the world – often served battered and fried, it nevertheless has numerous health benefits when prepared properly. Also known as lady fingers, bhindi, or bamia, okra is a pod vegetable, filled with seeds and is often added to soups like gumbo for extra texture and flavor.
What many people may not know about this often underrated veggie is that there is a well established connection between okra and diabetes treatment. Although all studies in this area to date have been done in animal models the evidence is hard to deny.
Managing Blood Sugar Levels
One study, published in the Journal of Pharmacy and Bioallied Sciences, found that diabetic rats given a solution of water with okra soaked in it had lower blood sugar levels than the control group of rats, who were given a cellulose gum instead. The study concluded that the seeds and peel of the okra plant have anti-diabetic properties:
“The present study, for the first time, confirms that A. Exculentus peel and seed possess blood glucose normalization and lipid profiles lowering action in diabetic condition.”(1)
Preparing Okra Water For Diabetes Treatment
Although there is, so far, only anecdotal evidence of okra water being used to treat diabetes in humans, there’s no reason why you can’t give it a try yourself. Some people claim that okra water can help stave off the development of type 2 diabetes, and help individuals maintain healthy blood sugar levels.
Preparing okra water is an easy step by step process:
- Wash 4 or 5 medium-sized okra pods.
- Clip both ends off the pods, then split the pods in half or pierce each side of the pods with a knife.
- Place the pods in a large mason jar, then cover them with water.
- Soak the pods overnight, at least eight hours (up to 24 hours).
- In the morning, squeeze the pods into the water to release any leftover sap.
- Throw the pods away and drink the water.
What To Do When Fresh Okra Isn’t Available
Because okra is a seasonal vegetable, it may not be available or affordable year round. While most of the research on okra’s anti-diabetic properties focus on fresh okra, you can also try using freeze-dried or canned okra to create okra water. Combining okra water with other methods of treating or preventing diabetes may give you better overall results.
It is important to note that while okra water may be right for you if you are managing your diabetes through diet and exercise, it isn’t always safe to consume if you’re also taking specific diabetes drugs.
Metaformin in particular can interact unfavorably with okra – okra water may interfere with the drug’s ability to affect your blood sugar levels, causing your levels to rise instead of fall. Always be sure to consult with your doctor before starting any new treatment, especially if you’re on specific medications already.
Okra water also isn’t a cure-all; there’s no substitute for a healthy diet and plenty of exercise, after all! While okra water may be able to help lower blood sugar levels, drinking it doesn’t give you a free pass to consume sugary and processed foods in abundance.
Be aware of what you’re eating and manage your diet according to your body’s needs and you’ll be surprised how great you feel!