There are a lot of diet myths circulated around diabetes—including people with diabetes having to eat boring, bland foods. This is so far from the truth, and in fact, diabetics can eat tons of rich, flavorful foods (even dessert) while still maintaining healthy blood sugar levels.
When it comes to cooking, people with diabetes can enjoy crafting creative dishes using healthy, delicious seasonings—here are some of our favorites.
The Best Herbs and Seasonings for Diabetics
Many different seasonings, herbs, and spices can help regulate blood sugar levels and have anti-inflammatory properties good for anyone whether they have diabetes or not.
Garlic — Maintain healthy blood sugar levels
Garlic is probably one of the most commonly used plants in cooking— boosting flavor in just about anything savory such as soups, stir fries, meat, and more. It also has dozens of health benefits for just about anyone who eats it. For people with diabetes, garlic can lower fasting blood glucose levels and lessen complications from diabetes. This tasty plant (yes, garlic is a plant) also has antibacterial, anticancer, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antiviral properties that benefit anyone.
The list goes on; garlic is also known to boost your immune system, lower blood pressure, and even help prevent Alzheimer’s. If cooking with garlic isn’t your thing, you can also take garlic supplement capsules and get the same benefits as throwing it in a dish.
Fenugreek — Reduce blood glucose levels, improve insulin resistance and glucose tolerance.
Despite being used medicinally and in Indian cuisine for centuries, fenugreek is not a commonly used herb. Many people probably haven’t even heard of it. Fenugreek is a plant that produces tiny seeds that contain many beneficial properties for diabetics (and non-diabetics).
Fenugreek seeds are often ground to a powder then used in several dishes such as Indian curries, soups, flatbreads, curry sauce, or even pickled vegetables. Benefits for people with diabetes include reducing blood glucose and cholesterol levels and improving insulin resistance and glucose tolerance. On top of that, one of the most significant ways fenugreek helps manage diabetes is by slowing down digestion, which aids in the absorption of sugar and carbs in the body.
Ginger — Improve insulin sensitivity, reduce oxidation and improve cholesterol levels
Ginger is a root used in both cooking and medicinally. There are significant benefits to eating/drinking ginger, including aiding in digestion, relieving nausea, fighting the common cold or flu symptoms, weight management, reducing indigestion, and even preventing certain cancers (to name a few).
People with diabetes looking for more natural methods of controlling blood sugar levels could turn to ginger. Ginger is anti-diabetic, hypolipidemic, and anti-oxidative and improves cholesterol levels. In addition, daily consumption of fresh ginger tea, ginger capsules, powder, or even just fresh grated ginger on a meal can help boost your immune system and regulate blood sugar well, especially paired with your usual diabetic treatments.
Turmeric — Improve insulin function, reduce insulin resistance and protect beta cells (responsible for insulin production)
Turmeric is a wonderful spice for controlling high blood sugar. It has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-atherosclerotic, heart-protective, and weight-loss effects that aid diabetics in managing their blood sugar levels and minimizing additional side effects of the disease.
The element within turmeric that causes all these benefits is called curcumin. Curcumin is in the ginger family and gives turmeric its beautiful golden color—in addition to supporting digestion, liver function, heart health, brain health, and improves insulin function. Diabetics can sprinkle turmeric on just about anything, as its flavor shouldn’t overtake the meal. It can even be sprinkled into teas or drinks. Turmeric capsules also make consumption easy for people who don’t want to cook or just want to ensure they get their daily dose.
Cinnamon — One of the best spices to reduce blood sugar levels
Cinnamon is a delicious and versatile spice that many people already enjoy adding to their meals. Cinnamon can be found in almost any cuisine around the world. Still, its most common uses are as an ingredient for sweet dishes like bread, warm beverages such as tea or coffee, desserts, curries, chutneys, and even savory dishes.
Cinnamon is excellent for people with diabetes because it can reduce blood sugar levels and improve insulin sensitivity, decreasing the risk of cardiovascular disease. It also contains polyphenols, which help fight disease, and is one of the best-known anti-inflammatory spices around. So sprinkle a little cinnamon in your coffee in the morning, and you are well on your way to managing your diabetes and fighting off inflammation.
Holy Basil — Lower blood glucose levels and increase insulin secretion.
Holy basil is a plant in the basil family typically found growing around India/Southeast Asia. It’s similar to the basil we all know and love, but with a slightly different taste and is actually considered a sacred plant to the Hindus. It’s been used medicinally for centuries and holds many benefits for managing diabetes, such as lowering blood glucose levels and increasing insulin production.
Holy basil also has antioxidant properties that help flush out toxins and free radicals. It can also help lower cholesterol and improve heart health, which many diabetics can struggle with. Holy basil can be consumed the exact same way as regular sweet basil you find in the store: on salads, with vegetables, in soups, or even steeped in tea.
Rosemary — Regulate and lower blood sugar levels, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels
Rosemary is an herb that has been used for centuries to improve memory, treat pain and inflammation, aid digestion, promote heart health all while increasing circulation. Rosemary can be consumed in many different ways, but one of the easiest would be adding it into your dishes at home.
Rosemary is another powerful antioxidant herb that has been known to improve memory and concentration, among many other benefits, including; aiding digestion, promoting skin cell and hair growth, fighting bacterial infections, and lowering blood sugar levels, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels. Overall, this delicious spice helps manage diabetes and boost many other health benefits by regularly consuming it in pasta sauces, marinades, or sprinkled on some fresh vegetables.
The Benefits of a Good Diet in Diabetes Management
Managing blood sugar levels is just one part of diabetes management. It takes many other factors to properly maintain blood sugar levels, insulin, and other moving parts of this disease. Therefore, pairing diet and exercise with regular insulin injections and glucose meter readings are vital to living a long and healthy life.
Aside from managing diabetes, it’s suitable for everyone to eat a healthy diet and add some of these beneficial (and delicious) herbs, spices, and seasonings to regular meals. However, we know not everyone is a cook, so luckily, herbal supplements can help offset the effects of a poor diet and ensure you still consume those antioxidants and anti-inflammatory plants every day.
Other benefits of a good diet with diabetes include lower risk for cardiovascular disease, improved cellular health and growth, reduced pain and inflammation, increased brain function and energy levels. And who doesn’t want that?
In closing, make sure to consume at least some of these delicious dish additions each day, and you’ll shortly notice the benefits of doing so. You’ll feel better, have a clear head, notice lower blood sugar levels, and enjoy an enhanced culinary experience.