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October 16, 2023
May 17, 2024
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Okra, scientifically known as Abelmoschus esculentus, is a versatile vegetable that has garnered attention for its potential benefits in managing blood sugar levels, particularly for individuals with diabetes. While it may not be as popular as some other vegetables, okra has been gaining recognition for its low glycemic index (GI) and its potential to assist in blood sugar control. 

In this article, we will delve deeper into the glycemic index of okra and explore the often-overlooked health advantages it offers.

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Glycemic Index Table

The glycemic index (GI) of okra, when consumed in its raw form, is relatively low, typically ranging between 20 and 35.¹ This low GI score indicates that okra is less likely to cause rapid spikes in blood sugar levels when consumed. However, it's important to note that the GI of okra may vary depending on factors such as ripeness, cooking method, and preparation.

For a 100g serving of raw okra, the carbohydrate content typically ranges from 7 to 8 grams, with variations based on the specific variety and maturity of the okra pod.² This carbohydrate content primarily consists of dietary fiber, which is known to have a favorable impact on blood sugar control by slowing the absorption of glucose.

To calculate the glycemic load (GL) per serving, we can use the formula: GL = (GI x Carbohydrate per Serving) / 100. Given the range of GI (20 to 35) and carbohydrate content (7 to 8 grams), the GL for a 100g serving of raw okra would fall within the range of approximately 1.4 to 2.8. This suggests that a typical serving of raw okra is likely to have a low GL, reinforcing its potential to have a minimal impact on blood sugar levels.

It's worth noting that cooking methods can influence the GI of okra. For example, boiling or steaming okra may result in a lower GI compared to frying. This is due to the breakdown of starches during cooking, which can increase the GI slightly. However, the overall impact on blood sugar is still relatively modest, especially when compared to high-GI foods.

Individuals with diabetes should consider monitoring their blood sugar response to okra to determine how it affects them personally. Additionally, including okra in a balanced diet rich in fiber and nutrients can contribute to overall blood sugar management and health.

Glycemic Index

20

Serving Size

100g

Carbohydrate* per Serving (g)

7 g

GL per Serving

1.00

Nutritional Facts

Okra is a nutrient-dense vegetable that offers a range of health benefits. A 100g serving of raw okra typically provides about 33 calories, 2 grams of protein, 0.2 grams of fat, and 7 to 8 grams of carbohydrates, primarily consisting of dietary fiber.² It is also a good source of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C, vitamin K, folate, magnesium, and potassium, which contribute to its overall nutritional value. 

The nutritional information below is for 100 g of raw okra.²

Calories

33 kcal

Carbs

7 g

Protein

2.0 g

Fiber

2.49 g

Cholesterol

4.4 mg

Vitamins

A (31.16 µg), B12 (0.05 µg), B6 (0.18 mg), C (19.89 mg), D (1.38 IU).

Sodium

154.66 mg

Total Fat

0.2 g

Is Okra Good for Weight Loss?

Okra can be a beneficial addition to a weight-loss diet due to several reasons. Firstly, it is a low-calorie vegetable, with approximately 33 calories per 100g serving of raw okra, making it a suitable choice for those looking to manage their calorie intake while still enjoying a nutrient-rich food.² Additionally, okra is high in dietary fiber, which can help increase feelings of fullness and reduce overall calorie consumption by promoting satiety.

The soluble fiber in okra also plays a role in weight management by helping regulate blood sugar levels and reducing insulin spikes, which can contribute to reduced fat storage. Furthermore, okra contains important vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin C, vitamin K, and magnesium, that support overall health and well-being during a weight loss journey.

As with any dietary change, it's crucial to consider overall calorie intake and maintain a balanced diet, including a variety of foods, for effective and sustainable weight loss. Consulting with a healthcare professional or registered dietitian can provide personalized guidance on incorporating okra into a weight loss strategy.

Is Okra Safe for People Living with Diabetes?

Okra is generally considered safe for individuals with diabetes and may even offer potential benefits in managing blood sugar levels. This is primarily due to its low glycemic index (GI) and its rich dietary fiber content. The soluble fiber in okra can help slow the absorption of glucose, preventing rapid spikes in blood sugar levels after meals.

Furthermore, okra contains nutrients such as magnesium, which plays a role in insulin sensitivity, and antioxidants like flavonoids, which may have protective effects against diabetes-related complications. While there is ongoing research in this area, incorporating okra into a balanced diet can be a part of a diabetes management strategy. It's important for individuals with diabetes to monitor their blood sugar levels and consult with healthcare professionals to determine the most suitable dietary choices for their specific needs.

What works for one person may not work for another, and it's crucial for individuals to work with healthcare professionals to develop personalized dietary plans tailored to their unique health circumstances.

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Allergies

Allergies to okra are relatively rare but can occur in some individuals. These allergies are typically associated with a family of proteins called "LTPs" (lipid transfer proteins), which are also found in other foods like nuts and fruits. Symptoms of okra allergies may include itching, hives, swelling, or, in severe cases, anaphylaxis. 

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FAQs

What is Glycemic Index?

The glycemic index (GI) is a measure of how quickly a carbohydrate-containing food raises blood sugar levels compared to a reference food, usually glucose. It ranks foods on a scale from 0 to 100, with higher values indicating a faster rise in blood sugar. The glycemic index (GI) scale is typically categorized as follows: Low GI [55 or less], Medium GI [56-69], High GI [70 or higher]. Foods with a high glycemic index digest rapidly and can cause dramatic fluctuations in blood glucose or glucose spikes.

What is Glycemic Load?

Glycemic load (GL) takes into account both the quality (glycemic index) and quantity (carbohydrate content) of carbohydrates in a specific serving of food. It is a measure of how much a particular food will raise blood sugar levels. GL is calculated by multiplying the glycemic index of a food by its carbohydrate content and dividing it by 100. It provides a more accurate representation of the overall impact of a food on blood sugar compared to the glycemic index alone.

Does Okra Spike Insulin?

There is limited scientific evidence to suggest that okra may have a positive effect on blood sugar levels and insulin sensitivity. However, more research is needed to fully understand the potential benefits of okra for diabetes management. It is important to note that while okra may have some beneficial effects, it should not be relied upon as the sole treatment for diabetes and should be used in conjunction with other medical treatments and lifestyle changes.

Is Okra Low Glycemic?

Yes, okra is considered a low glycemic food as it has a glycemic index of 20-30.

Can People Living with Diabetes Eat Okra?

Yes, people living with diabetes can eat okra as it is a low glycemic index food that can help regulate blood sugar levels. Okra is also a good source of fiber, vitamins, and minerals that can benefit overall health. However, it is important to monitor portion sizes and overall carbohydrate intake.

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References

  1. The University of Sydney. (2023, May 1). Glycemic Index – Glycemic Index Research and GI Newshttps://glycemicindex.com/
  2. USDA FoodData Central. (2019, April 1). Food Details - Okra, raw. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/169260/nutrients 

About the author

It is a long established fact that a reader will be distracted by the readable content of a page when looking at its layout.

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About the author

Brittany Barry is a national board-certified health coach and NASM-certified personal trainer based in South Carolina.

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Please note: The Signos team is committed to sharing insightful and actionable health articles that are backed by scientific research, supported by expert reviews, and vetted by experienced health editors. The Signos blog is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. If you have or suspect you have a medical problem, promptly contact your professional healthcare provider. Read more about our editorial process and content philosophy here.

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