Diabetes is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. Diabetes contributes to the development of deadly conditions like cardiovascular disease and end-stage renal disease. Consuming a healthy diet can help those who have type 1 and 2 diabetes control their blood sugar, and help reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. There are a number of diabetes-related benefits of adding okra to your healthy eating plan.
The glycemix index (GI) is a measurement of how quickly carbohydrates in foods turns to sugar in your blood. Regularly consuming low GI foods like okra can help even out roller coaster blood sugar levels and aid in weight control. Okra has a GI below 20, which is considered a "low GI" food.
Almost half of all cases of kidney disease are the result of diabetes. Keeping your blood sugar within a healthy range, treating high blood pressure and maintaining a normal body weight can reduce your risk of kidney disease. Additionally, regularly consuming okra can keep kidney disease at bay, according to study results published in the October 2005 "Jilin Medical Journal." In this study of diabetics, those who ate okra daily reduced clinical signs of kidney damage more than those that simply ate a diabetic diet.
Nearly 50 percent of the fiber found in okra is in the form of soluble fiber. This type of fiber slows digestion, delaying and reducing the impact of carbohydrate-rich foods on blood sugar levels. Eating at least 25 g of fiber per day can help reduce high blood sugar levels. Soluble fiber may also keep your appetite under control, making weight loss easier.
People with diabetes have a higher risk for heart disease than those that don't. Diabetics who regularly consume vegetables in general, including okra, reduce their heart disease risk, according to study results found in the April 2008 "Journal of Nutrition." In this study, type 2 diabetics who ate vegetables had a 10 percent lower heart disease risk when compared to those who seldom ate vegetables.
- The Ohio State University Medical Center: Statistics About Diabetes
- "Jillin Medical Journal"; The Clinical Research of Okra in Treatment of Diabetic Nephropathy; K. Liu, et al., October 2005
- Glycemic Index Foundation: What is the Glycemic Index?
- National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse: Kidney Disease of Diabetes
- University of Illinois Extension: Watch Your Garden Grow: Okra
- Joslin Diabetes Center: How Does Fiber Affect Blood Glucose Levels?