Okra and Weight Loss

Okra is a vegetable that originated in Africa. The Texas A & M Extension Service reports that the French brought okra to New Orleans in the 18th century and it also came to the United States on ships that transported African slaves. Okra is a common ingredient in Southern food. Often covered in batter and fried, okra prepared this way is not conducive to weight loss. A healthier preparation of okra includes including it sliced in gumbo and stews.

Bowls of fresh okra for sale at the farmers market. Credit: dabldy/iStock/Getty Images

Calories

A 1-cup serving of okra provides 36 calories, or 7 percent of a standard 2,000-calorie diet. Including okra in the diet provides flavor and substance that satiates the senses and the appetite, while maintaining a low-calorie level diet that improves weight control. Pickled okra and fresh okra included on grilled kebobs provide flavor without an excess of oil or calories.

Fiber

Just one cup of okra provides 4 g of fiber, or 14 percent of the 28 g USDA daily value. Fiber helps you lose weight by filling you up and satisfying your appetite. Fiber also combines with other foods and nutrients in the stomach and slows gastric emptying into the intestines and absorption into bloodstream. Slow digestion improves blood glucose balance, an important element for regulating metabolism and improving weight maintenance.

Glycemic Index

The glycemic index of okra is in the low range, a consequence of its minimal effect on blood glucose. The impact of foods on blood glucose effects the rate of weight loss, because high-glycemic foods increase blood sugar. Insulin removes excess glucose from the blood and stores it in the muscles and liver. The body reacts by sending hunger signals to the brain to replace the removed blood glucose it needs for energy.

Fat

The fat content in okra is .3 g, or less than 1 percent of the 65 g USDA daily value. Fat is a nutrient that provides a high number of calories in the diet -- 9 for every gram of fat, compared with 4 for carbohydrates and protein. Including no more than the daily fat requirement in the diet is important for avoiding weight gain.

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