Is it really true that okra reduces bad cholesterol! Yes, it does!

What is Cholesterol?

Cholesterol is fats found in the blood. Aside from the liver making cholesterol, we get it from animal products such as eggs, butter, meat, milk, and cheese. These foods have saturated fats and at times trans fats which are bad when high amounts are consumed. Fats found in plant-based foods such as vegetables, fruits, and grains do not have saturated fats and trans fat. It’s been said severally that eating foods with high fats can lead to high cholesterol which can then lead to cardiovascular diseases such as heart attacks, stroke and etc. 

The Benefits of Cholesterol

The truth is that cholesterol is actually good for you. Cholesterol and healthy fats are needed in your body for reproduction (having children). It helps to make hormones like estrogen, testosterone and adrenal hormones. These hormones are key players in having children. Cholesterol helps to build the cell membrane structure which is made up of the lipid bilayer. This cell membrane keeps all the content inside the cells such as the nucleus which is where the human DNA lives. The cell membrane also protects other things from entering the cell. Additionally, cholesterol helps the production of vitamin D and bile acid. Bile acids help the body to digest fats and help nutrient absorption in the body. In short, cholesterol is important and it is needed.   

Types of Cholesterol

Cholesterol is good and bad. Why? There are two types of cholesterol in the blood. High-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL) is the good cholesterol that is needed in the body. HDL is known as good cholesterol because it helps to remove excess cholesterol out of the blood specifically in arteries and cells. Whereas the bad cholesterol is known as low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL). High levels of LDL are found in the bloodstream, for this reason, it has the potential to clog the arteries thus preventing blood to flow through the arteries, therefore, causing a heart attack or a stroke. 

Reducing LDL

The goal is to eat foods with high amounts of HDL cholesterol which removes excess cholesterol from the blood. Another way to reduce LDL is to limit eating foods with LDL cholesterol. The body makes cholesterol, therefore, we do not need an extra amount of it. Instead, we should focus more on eating foods with good fats such as avocado. It’s been suggested that eating an avocado per day can help to reduce LDL. Oatmeal is another food known to lower LDL in the blood. This is because food with high fiber helps to lower LDL in the blood. Almond is another type of food that also helps to reduce LDL. 

Reduces and removes LDL

Avocado, oatmeal, and almond are well known to reduce LDL or bad cholesterol in the blood, however, okra is known to reduce LDL in the blood as well. A study done by Dubey and Mishra showed that LDL can be reduced with okra seeds and okra seed powder using rat models who have high levels of LDL in their blood. They administered 250 – 500 grams of ground okra seed and okra seed powder to the rats for 42 days. Then they observed a significant reduction of LDL cholesterol in the rats. This confirmed that okra seed has the ability to reduce lipid or LDL in the blood. Harvard health also published that Okra is one of the foods that help to reduce LDL. 

How is okra able to reduce LDL? 

Mucilage or the mucus-like characteristics of okra is the property that helps to remove cholesterol and bile acid with toxins from the body. It then disposes of the cholesterol and toxins in the liver. Thus removing it from your blood and preventing a clog in the arteries. 

How can I cook Okra?

There are different ways of cooking okra, one can put it in gumbo, making soup or stew or fried. If the sliminess of okra scares you, try making fried okra or roasted okra with seasoning. Cutting okra in big pieces and cooking it in a soup, gumbo or stew can reduce the sliminess. Blending or cutting okra into smaller pieces will give you very slimy okra soup, gumbo or stew. If you are searching for okra soup or okra stew recipe, find it in this recipe book! You can make the soup and stew and pair it with oatmeal fufu as in the picture below! If you do not like any food with okra, then another option is avocado, oatmeal, and almonds. Talk to your nutritionist or doctor about okra powder!

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