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Okra and Blood Sugar

Okra and Blood Sugar
A close-up of okra for sale at a market. Photo Credit: Akkaradet/iStock/Getty Images

Okra provides significant amounts of essential nutrients, including manganese and vitamins C and K. (While okra has the potential to raise your blood sugar levels because it contains carbohydrates, it isn't likely to cause large changes.

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Carbohydrate Content

A 1/2-cup serving of cooked okra only contains 18 calories and 3.6 grams of carbohydrates. This is less than the average carbohydrate content for nonstarchy vegetables of 5 grams per half cup and much less than the 15 grams found in a typical carbohydrate serving of starchy foods, fruit or milk. The amount that carbohydrates raise blood sugar levels depends in part on your weight, with a 150-pound person typically experiencing a 4-point increase and a 100-pound person experiencing a 5-point increase with each gram consumed.

Fiber Content

The fiber content of a food plays a role in its effect on blood sugar because fiber doesn't increase blood sugar levels like other types of carbohydrates do. Each serving of okra provides 2 grams of fiber, or 8 percent of the daily value. Of this, roughly half consists of soluble fiber. The soluble fiber in okra has been shown to minimize increases in blood sugar levels, according to a July 2012 article published in the "International Journal of Biosciences."

Glycemic Index

Foods high on the glycemic index often cause spikes in blood sugar levels, but foods that are low on the glycemic index usually cause only minimal changes in blood sugar levels. Nonstarchy vegetables, such as okra, are low glycemic index foods, according to the American Diabetes Association, and can be freely enjoyed.

Recommended Use

The American Diabetes Association recommends a minimum of three to five servings of nonstarchy vegetables per day. One-half cup of cooked okra equals one serving. Include okra in dishes containing fish, tomatoes, corn or onions, as its mild eggplant-like taste complements these flavors, notes University of Illinois Extension.

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