If you are like me, you are constantly on the lookout for the many ways to get even more out of a glass of water. And if it helps you naturally manage an ailment then that is all the better!
If you have recently heard about infusing okra pods in water, and are looking to learn more then you have come to the right place.
Here’s everything you need to know about okra infused water, how to reap its health benefits and how to make your own.
What is Okra and What Are The Benefits
Okra is a green slightly fuzzy plant grown mostly in warm regions such as the Middle East, the Caribbean, and South America. It’s also known as ladies’ fingers or gumbo and is related to cotton and hibiscus. It is a very nutrient-dense and low-calorie fruit only containing 30 calories per 100 grams which is well above the amount you need to make okra water. It is free from saturated fat and cholesterol but is high in fiber.
It is also rich in vitamins and minerals such as calcium, folic acid, potassium, vitamin B & C.
The whole flowering plant, including the seeds, can be consumed.
Why Infuse Okra In Your Water?
Choosing to infuse it in water, is a way of consuming more antioxidants. Okra pods and seeds are rich in antioxidants such as catechins and quercetin. Antioxidants are naturally occurring substances found in food especially in plant-based foods. Antioxidants play a role in protecting cells against free radicals caused by oxidative stress.
As a source of folate, okra water is believed to lower the risk of cancer. Folate, also known as Vitamin B9, helps repair DNA and create red blood cells. A high Vitamin B9 intake can help protect against cancers such as breast, gut, and lung cancer.
Low levels of folate can be a risk factor for cancer due to its ability to control gene expression and the fact that folate prevents DNA from breaking down and building up.
Okra's anti-cancer properties have been studied. In 2014, a study found that lectin from okra reduced breast cancer cell growth by 63%! It also killed 72% of human cancer cells! However, as these tests were conducted on human cells, and not humans themselves, more studies are needed for more definitive answers.
Another benefit of okra is their vitamin C content which reduces the risk of stroke. A study found that those with higher levels of vitamin C in their blood were less likely to have a stroke as vitamin C helps lower blood pressure and keep blood vessels healthy.
Okra Water and Diabetes
What okra water is most associated with the is diabetes treatment and prevention, here is why:
- Okras have a minimal effect on blood sugar, as 100 grams of okra only contains 7.45 grams of carbohydrates. and a low glycemic index.
- Okra doesn’t just keep blood sugar from rising, it can also lower and control blood glucose levels which is especially important if you have diabetes.
- Eating high fiber foods is recommended for those with diabetes, as fiber helps control blood sugar levels and insulin sensitivity. Fiber also helps to keep you fuller for longer, which ward off snacking on foods that can spike blood glucose levels. As one serving of okra contains between 3-4 grams of fiber this is a good source.
- Not only are diabetics advised to eat a healthy diet to manage their condition, but an active lifestyle is also recommended. The anti-fatigue properties of okra can help give those who drink this infusion more energy to be active and allow them to recover quicker from strenuous physical activity.
- As people with diabetes are more likely to experience high cholesterol, keeping blood vessels and blood pressure in a healthy range is pivotal to treating the condition. Okra is one of many foods to consume to keep their cholesterol under control.
- Inflammation can be a concern for diabetics as it can cause insulin resistance and complicate the condition. Inflammation is a natural response in our body to protect us from germs and bacteria. However, some people experience chronic inflammation, which means that the body becomes inflamed when there isn’t a threat warranting the response. High blood sugar levels are a trigger for inflammation, which ends up damaging blood vessels. The damaged blood vessels are then covered by plaques, but if the inflammation is chronic, they also break down and move around the body, and can damage organs. Okra pods’ and seeds’ antioxidants, flavonoids such as catechins and quercetin, and phenolic compounds are believed to have anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties.
How To Make Okra Water
Okra water is made with young immature green okra pods. You can soak 3 to 5 pods in water overnight, and then remove them in the morning before drinking. Make sure to cut the ends off so some of the juices can seep into the water. Remember, you can infuse additional flavors such as mint, lemon, or berries to hide the bitter taste while still reaping the benefits.
Alternatively, you can use the okra by slicing it and directly putting it in your water. While this will get more of the juices out, it can affect the taste. If you do like the taste it is probably wise to not prepare it this way.
If you rather not use okra in water, stick to just adding it in soup and salads.
Infusing it in water is not the only way to reap the health benefits. Okra peel was consumed long before okra water became popular. Okra peel can safely be eaten raw by itself, and there isn’t a dose you should stick to, however, you don’t have to eat much, unless you want to. Even just half a teaspoon can be beneficial. This also means that you also don’t need to drink more than one glass of okra water a day.
The sticky juice inside the plant is a popular ingredient in soups, as it thickens them. This is also helpful for vegans making soup, who can’t use dairy cream as a thickener, and the added calcium in okra won’t go to waste.
Powdered okra seeds are also another method of consuming the plant. These can be made at home by grounding the seeds in a pepper grinder, but can also be found in health shops.
Is Okra Water Safe?
While okra water for diabetes looks promising, don’t stop taking medication and other treatments without explicit permission from your health practitioner first. If anything, consider this a supplement.
If you’re taking metformin, then you absolutely need to consult your doctor before trying okra water for diabetes. One study on rats found that okra can inhibit the absorption of metformin. While the study maintained that okra reduced the absorption of glucose in the gut of fasting rats, and by extension, can potentially do the same for humans, metformin should not be taken with a meal that contains okra.
Although hypervitaminosis rarely occurs from natural sources of vitamins from foods, (such as the vitamin B and C in okra), if you’re already taking supplements, consult your GP or dietician before drinking okra water to ensure you’re not as risk of experiencing hypervitaminosis B or C.
Hypervitaminosis is a dangerous condition caused by consuming too much of a vitamin;
It’s also known as vitamin toxicity. Although it’s less likely to occur with water-soluble vitamins, such as vitamins B and C, as they’re excreted in the urine, it’s not impossible, which is why it’s important to err on the side of caution if you’re already taking supplements for these vitamins.
The Bottom Line
Okra has a plethora of benefits that make okra infused water a worthwhile addition to your diet especially if you want to drink it for the extra vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. As a drink, this infusion is just one of the many way to keep hydrated and not drink your calories.
There is lots of great research on okra fruit and diabetes and its ability to manage diabetes .
Should okra water replace your doctor prescribed regimen? The answer to that is resounding no! Nonetheless, it is worth a try as a supplemental strategy.
Move over Fiji water because okra might just be the new super- drink!