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Did you know that okra is not only good tasting (to a lot of people) but is also really good for you? Okra can be used as a thickening agent in recipes, help regulate blood sugar, and can also be healing to our gut. I know, I can hear you saying, “Yuck” or “Gross!”  I am not asking you to sit down and eat a bowl of okra. Okra can be added to lots of recipes, and you will not even know it is there. Just give it a chance!

Okra is a natural thickening agent and can be used in place of items such as gelatin, cornstarch, and arrowroot. You can use it to thicken soups, gumbos, chicken and dumplings, and smoothies. You get the benefit of the okra without knowing it is there.

Okay, let us talk about okra’s ability to regulate blood sugar. Okra is low in sugar and has hardly any fat. It is also loaded with Vitamin C, Vitamin A, Magnesium, and Zinc. The biggest benefit of okra for blood sugar regulation is the amount of fiber that it contains. The green seedy part or the “fruit” of the okra is high in fiber. Foods high in fiber slow the consumption of glucose by your intestines. If you are pre-diabetic, this is a good food to keep your blood sugar at a good level. If you take medication for diabetes, such as Metformin, be sure to talk with your doctor before adding a lot of okra to your diet.

Many individuals struggle with having a healthy gut but having a healthy gut is key to having a healthy body. The fiber in okra not only lubricates the large intestine but it also feeds the good gut bacteria in your body. This promotes a healthy intestinal tract. A healthy intestinal tract means less bloating and cramping. Up to 90% of the body’s serotonin (a feel-good hormone) is made in the gut.  Serotonin is the main hormone that stabilizes our feeling of well-being, our mood, and our happiness. It also enables our nervous system cells, as well as our brain cells, to communicate with each other. Are you making the correlation? If our gut is healthy, we make more serotonin. If we make more serotonin, we feel better. And, okra can help!

There are lots of recipes that have okra added to them and you can remain blissfully unaware of the taste or presence of okra. Trim Healthy Mama has a great cookbook with recipes that include okra in things such as zuppa Toscana, tomato chicken bisque, broccoli and cheese soup, brownies, chocolate truffle cake and others. Or you can use good old Google to find your next favorite okra recipe!