The number of people falling prey to diabetes is on a steady rise. Our modern lifestyles, afflicted with stress, processed foods, sedentary habits and poor dietary choices, are some of the reasons to blame for it. And while diabetes alone can be a chronic condition, sometimes it can bring a host of other conditions—such as cardiovascular and renal diseases—with it.

Time and again medical experts and scientists over the world have stressed the importance of a healthy diet—rich in fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains—in keeping diabetes under control.

If a recent internet trend is to be believed, then okra can be called the new diabetes superfood due to its anti-diabetic properties. Some websites have even called it a ‘cure for diabetes’. The reports said that all you need to do to cure diabetes is to soak okra in water overnight and drink the water next morning. While this was quite intriguing, how much can we rely on the internet? We find out.

Can Okra Treat Diabetes Naturally?
An annual vegetable most-suited to warmer climates, okra, also known as ‘lady finger’, is popular in Indian, Cajun, Southeast Asian, Caribbean, and Middle Eastern cuisines. The seeds contain a gelatinous substance, which can be called the source of its medicinal powers.

Even researchers support the trend to some extent. A 2005 study from Taiwan published in the journal Planta Medica looked at a compound, myricetin, that’s purified from okra. The researchers found that it had the ability to enhance glucose utilization and lower plasma glucose in diabetic rats lacking insulin. [1]

Another study from 2011 which appeared in the online journal ISRN Pharmaceutics observed that okra significantly reduced the intestinal absorption of glucose in fasting rats, which is why it was found to be beneficial for diabetic patients and could help control the postprandial blood glucose level.

However, another point that this study raised was that the co-administration of okra with metformin (anti-diabetic drug) reduced its absorption in vivo[2] In simple terms, this means that if you’re on metformin and eat too much okra then your sugar levels might shoot up.

The biggest glitch, however, in these studies is that they were carried out on rodents and may not be indicative of similar effects in humans. While human studies will give us a definitive clue on the anti-diabetic and anti-hyperlipidemic properties of okra, the animal trials are both convincing and promising. [3,4]

Some Other Reasons To Eat Okra Every Day

  • Improves digestion
  • Lowers cholesterol
  • Good for heart health
  • Loaded with essential nutrients and antioxidants.

For more interesting stories, visit our Health page. Read more about Natural Remedies here.

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References:

1. Liu IM, Liou SS, Lan TW, Hsu FL, Cheng JT. Myricetin as the active principle of Abelmoschus moschatus to lower plasma glucose in streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats. Planta Med. 2005 Jul;71(7):617-21. PubMed PMID: 16041646.

2. Khatun H, Rahman A, Biswas M, Islam AU. Water-soluble Fraction of Abelmoschus esculentus L Interacts with Glucose and Metformin Hydrochloride and Alters Their Absorption Kinetics after Coadministration in Rats. ISRN Pharm. 2011;2011:260537.doi: 10.5402/2011/260537. Epub 2011 Sep 11. PubMed PMID: 22389848; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3263724.

3. Sabitha V, Ramachandran S, Naveen KR, Panneerselvam K. Antidiabetic and antihyperlipidemic potential of Abelmoschus esculentus (L.) Moench. in streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats. J Pharm Bioallied Sci. 2011 Jul;3(3):397-402. doi: 10.4103/0975-7406.84447. PubMed PMID: 21966160; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3178946.

4. Fan S, Zhang Y, Sun Q, Yu L, Li M, Zheng B, Wu X, Yang B, Li Y, Huang C. Extract of okra lowers blood glucose and serum lipids in high-fat diet-induced obese C57BL/6 mice. J Nutr Biochem. 2014 Jul;25(7):702-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jnutbio.2014.02.010. Epub 2014 Mar 18. PubMed PMID: 24746837.