Nutrition Meets Food Science

Benefits of Okra and Its Recipes In Diabetes Management

“India is home to millions of diabetics and the second highest country in prevalence of diabetes” says recent statistics.

Diabetics need to pay more attention to what they add to their plate. The food we eat plays vital role in managing blood sugar levels.

Nutritional Insights:

Various fruits and vegetables are known for their antidiabetic property. Belonging to green family, our very own bhindi or okra is the best pick in diabetes management.

High in Dietary fibre

The one major reason why Lady’s finger is good in diabetes is because of its high fibre content. The Soluble fibre present in the green fruit part of okra that too in high amount helps in better digestion and control food cravings. It creates bulk in gut and keeps one full for long time.

Out of many, most amazing advantage of dietary fibre is – it reduces obesity and lower the risk of heart disease, the two most common cause for type 2 diabetes. Many researches support intake of okra in keeping blood sugar under control because of high range of soluble fibre.

Soluble fibre forms gel in the Abdomen and may decrease the absorption of glucose. It is always better to get fibre from natural sources (foods) than any supplements.

Lowers Cholesterol

Another unique benefit of eating okra is it lowers cholesterol. The thick gel called as mucilage found in okra can also bind with cholesterol during digestion stopping it from entering into blood. So, this food turns to be super healthy for people with heart health risks.

Source of Nutrients

Moreover, Okra is very low in calories and loaded with Vitamin C, Vitamin K1, Vitamin A, Zinc, Folic acid and Potassium.

Also beneficial for pregnant and breastfeeding women being good source of iron and calcium.

Rich in Antioxidants (polyphenols)

Okra seeds are excellent source of dietary antioxidants that protects the body from harmful chemical reactions. Regular intake of foods like bhindi, which has enough of antioxidants, may play important role in protecting against development of diabetes and cancer.

Contain considerable amount of Protein

Unlike many fruits and vegetables, Okra does contain some amount of protein, for say 100gms of fresh green okra can provide up to 1.5 to 2gms of protein.

Let’s check out some extremely exotic and healthy Okra recipes one can easily make at home with simple preparation:

  1. Bhindi Masala (Zero Oil Recipe)

Starting with one of the favourite dishes for all of us, bhindi masala can be cooked using no oil or fat deliberating same traditional flavours and delicacy.

Long okra pods are dipped and cooked in batter of freshly grind tomatoes, onion, garlic, green chilies and flavourful blend of spices. Garnished with fresh coriander leaves.

The acid present in tomato masks the gelatinous tendency of okra.

This calorie free variation is good for weight watchers to enjoy food without compromising with taste buds. This recipe is rich in dietary fibre and vitamin c. Remember to not overcook to maintain its nutrient quality.

  1. Sautéed Okra

Our mothers do make this! Traditionally cooked bhindi sabzi can be restyle by adding some more healthy ingredients. Let’s see how?

Authentic fusion of julienne cut okra, bell peppers, tomato and onions with few heart healthy spices and herbs–cloves, cumin seeds, mustard seeds, cinnamon sticks and curry leaves make up the recipe most delightful and light on mouth.

Tastes best with parathas or bhakri.

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  1. Crunchy Oven fried Okra

Bite-sized okra are dipped in pound of cornmeal, all purpose flour, beaten egg (optional), some salt and peppers followed by coating with flaxseeds and breadcrumbs.

Bake in oven for 15-20 mins in a preheated and oiled baking sheet until turns crisp and golden brown.

The nutritious okra popcorns can be enjoyed with fat free mayo sauce.

Same dish can be prepared in pan by shallow frying.

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  1. Achaari Bhindi

Packaged pickle that are available in markets has too much of oil in it which is again a concern on health. Here’s this recipe is especially for pickle lovers to get a homemade achaari taste with unique touch of bhindi.

The recipe contains grounded mixture of mustard seeds, kalonji, saunf, heeng and turmeric as key ingredients. Shallow fried pods are simmered on this coarse achaari mixture and tomato puree till well mixed.

Recipe tastes good with chapatis, moong pulao or dal khichdi.

  1. Creamy Okra Soup

It’s always amazing to have soups in meal as it is way lighter and enjoyable portion of meal. Soups makes one feel full and less tempted towards rest part of dinner. But did you know, okra with its gelatin property becomes best choice to get that thick consistency in soups.

Slightly sautéed veggies such as broccoli, carrot, beans mixed with medium sized cut okra pods cooked in vegetable or chicken stock. Addition of fresh whipped cream makes it even more delicious giving creamy mouthfeel.

  1. Spicy Tangy & Grilled Okra Salad

This is really the easiest way to cook okra in minutes.

Clean and dried long okra pods can be grilled with chicken finger sticks or some veggies to make cooking even more healthy. Sprinkling lemon juice, Tamarind coriander chutney, some salt and peppers spice up the flavour.

Constipation and poor digestive health can be managed by including ladyfinger simply as a salad in your meal.

Garnish with sprouted beans and lettuce leaves.

  1. Okra Detox Drink

Fetching all the lime light, many new studies suggest benefits of Okra water in case of type 1, type 2 & Gestational diabetes.

Okra water is basically a drink made by soaking Okra pods overnight in water.

This could be an alternative option for people who don’t eat bhindi or dislike its taste or texture. However, the nutrient quality may get compromised as it is just an extract of vegetable.

More detoxifying foods can be added to increase the nutritional benefits.

Along with this, other healthy foods should also be included as a part of diet to create a balanced meal. For people living with diabetes, both medical as well as nutritional therapy must go hand in hand for better health.



Abir Ansari

Jr. Nutritionist, PFNDAI

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