Tips for Including Okra in Your Lipid-Lowering Diet

okra prep
Jennifer Moll, About.com

Okra has been a long-used, staple ingredient in many types of cuisine. Although there isn’t a lot of studies examining the heart-healthy effects of this delicious vegetable, okra has many cholesterol-friendly properties that make it a good ingredient to include if you are following a diet to lower your lipids. These tips will show you how to include this healthy vegetable in your lipid-lowering diet.

Ways to Prepare Okra

Okra can be consumed by itself – or with a few of your favorite spices added to it. Many people get turned off by the sliminess that okra has. This “slime” is released when the okra is sliced and the pods are cooked. This slime is not harmful – in fact, it is primarily made up of a soluble form of fiber. However, if you want to avoid this unpleasant texture, you can cook your okra intact or at a high temperature for a period of time. Adding lemon or vinegar to your okra can also reduce this slimy texture.

Okra can be grilled, sautéed, pickled, or roasted. Okra is also commonly deep-fried. This method should be avoided, since this will add trans fats and saturated fat to your lipid-lowering diet. 

Sides Containing Okra

Okra can also be prepared as a side dish, as it can be paired well with many other food – especially veggies, whole grains, or beans. When making your okra-containing sides, you should use other heart-healthy ingredients.

You can never go wrong with adding as many vegetables, spices, beans, rice, lentils, and herbs. If you decide to prepare creamed okra, you should make sure that you are using low-fat milk or cream in your preparation method to cut the amount of saturated fat added to the side dish. Additionally, you should limit the amount of butter you use in the preparation of some of your sides.

If your recipe calls for the use of butter, you can use a small amount of oil high in unsaturated fat, such as vegetable or olive oil, instead. 

Delicious Okra Entrées

There are many tasty meals containing okra as one of the key ingredients – especially in certain types of cuisines from Asia or the Southern United States. Although okra is low in fat, some of the other ingredients you add to your entrée may not be – and may affect your healthy diet if you consistently add them to your meals:

  • Gravies and dressings are typically generously added to many entrees. If you are watching your cholesterol and triglycerides, however, these additions can be another source of added saturated fat to your dish. If you wish to serve your entrée with a gravy or a dressing, make sure that you are using low-fat ingredients to make it. If this is not possible, you should request that the gravy or dressing be served on the side – instead of on top of your main course.
  • To limit saturated fat and calories added to your okra-containing entrée, you should serve a lean protein, such as fish, a soy product, or poultry. If red meat is to be served as part of your entrée, make sure that you use lean cuts and remove any visible pieces of fat from the cut of meat before serving.
  • Be careful about types of flavorings you add to your okra dish. Although herbs and spices are generally heart-healthy, other ingredients – such as sugar – can add calories to your meal. Salt should also be limited to your dishes if you have high blood pressure or are watching your heart health.

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