Food that battles diabetes doesn’t have to be bland, if you use the right spices.
All throughout history herbs and spices have played a major role in our daily food preparation. Based on the hunter-gatherer lifestyle many herbs have attained the status of medicines.
Traditional medicines, folk medicines, and even modern pharmacology, base their healing success on the powers of nature’s plants. Today, many natural medicine modalities use herbal and plant therapies.
Food preparation also is a major form of medicine. A well-balanced meal provides the body with the essential nutrients.
Spices and herbs not only highlight the flavor of food. They also may aid digestion, fight parasites, act as diuretics, antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, antioxidants, and more.
16 Herbs and Spices That Fight Diabetes
Cassia bark, often called Chinese Cinnamon, is produced in China and Vietnam. It is less refined, but sweeter tasting than its close cousin, true cinnamon.Traditional Chinese medicine, for centuries, has been using rou gui for type 2 diabetes in order to enhance insulin sensitivity and reduce blood sugar levels.
Slowly simmer a pot of green tea with a piece of cassia and a couple of slices of fresh ginger.Use cassia bark pieces in cooking to flavor meats, stocks, broths, stews and curries. Remove before serving.
Basil (Ocimum basilicum) is that aromatic kitchen herb that reminds us of summer, Italy, and good eating times. It is fragrant in salads, soups, and pesto. In a study of herbal infusions of kitchen herbs, turmeric, rosemary, marjoram, oregano, and basil were the five front-runners in flavonoid content. And basil, specifically, lowers blood sugar.
Eat the fresh young shoots instead of parsley, finely chopped, in sauces, on salads, and other dishes.For a delicious flavor, add fresh or dried leaves to stews, soups, egg and other dishes.Boil seeds in water for a healing cup of tea and sip with a little stevia as a sweetener.
Cumin is a spice in the parsley family that goes well with red lentils or brown rice. Use it generously, as cumin lowers blood sugar and cholesterol. Cumin also has a good effect on the advanced glycation end products (AGEs) that are so damaging in diabetes.
Garlic cloves have been venerated as a powerful spice and “heal-all.”Garlic is a topically or internally used antimicrobial and antifungal.Garlic has been attributed strong cholesterol reducing properties. It appears to lower bad cholesterols (LDL) and raise good cholesterols (HDL).It may protect against heart disease by thinning the blood and reducing hypertension.
Dill goes well with fish, eggs, or mushrooms. Dill originated in the Middle East and southwestern Russia, but had already found its way into European kitchens and apothecaries by the Middle Ages. At that time, it was mainly used to increase milk production in women. Now it is being investigated as an agent against diabetes. James Duke’s Ethnobotanical Database lists 70 different chemicals in dill that help fight diabetes.
Ginger increases the production of saliva, calms down the digestive tract, and helps to eliminate bloating and gas. It helps to reestablish the digestive function of the intestines, and is said to have antibacterial properties.Ginger promotes bile flow, and may have blood thinning and cholesterol lowering properties.Other conditions improved by ginger include: diarrhea, nausea, motion sickness, and morning sickness during early pregnancy.
Peppermint (Mentha x piperita) contains natural antioxidants that fight diabetes, heart disease, aging, and cancer. And it adds great flavor to teas. Try to get it loose and fresh instead of in tea bags. Peppermint relaxes the muscles that close the stomach from the esophagus; people with reflux should, therefore, avoid peppermint. For all others it is a tasty tea that aids digestion.
Hyssop is one of the oldest known herbs. In the Old Testament, it is mentioned as part of a spice oil mix and for purification rituals.In many cultures, hyssop has been used for respiratory infections. It acts as an expectorant and appears to have anti-inflammatory properties.External uses include topical application for minor skin damage and bruises.Hyssop also appears to balance low blood pressure and dizzy spells.
Stevia (Stevia rebaudiana) is the only sweetener that is not detrimental to those with diabetes—even though it is many times sweeter than table sugar. While using stevia won’t help to eliminate your sweet tooth, stevia does have positive effects on postprandial blood sugar and insulin levels. You can grow the plant in a pot on your windowsill. One little leaf goes a long way.
Licorice is a legume whose root we chew for its sweetness. It is 50 times sweeter than sugar, but is rather high in calories.Licorice appears to co-regulate the adrenal-hypothalamic-pituitary axis. It is high in phytoestrogens and is traditionally used for PMS and menopausal issues. Licorice affects the endocrine system, including documented uses for Addison’s disease. It may raise the cortisol effect on the kidney and mimic the hormone aldosterone.
Thyme (Thymus spp.) contains 75 active phytochemicals that work against diabetes, and its delicious aroma enhances any dish. Thyme supports inflammation-fighting cytokines and helps certain immune cells (macrophages) secrete agents that douse inflammation.
Recent research found that several commonly used spice herbs naturally inhibit triggers of pancreas, duodenum, and cardiovascular issues by affecting alpha-amylase, alpha-glucosidase, and angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE). Oregano has a distinctive, mildly bitter taste. Oregano is widely used for indigestion and as a topical antiseptic.Some of its beneficial actions in diabetes prevention may be due to its high antioxidant and antimicrobial properties.
Turmeric (Curcuma longa), the yellow root popular in Indian cuisine and always present in curries, is probably the best herb or spice for preventing cancer. Turmeric is an ideal spice for those with diabetes, as research has proven it has anti-inflammatory, antiaging, antioxidant, neuroprotective, anti-atherosclerotic, heart-protecting, weight-reducing, and anti-infectious actions. All of these benefits have been attributed to its main ingredient, curcumin.
Stevia is a leafy green plant. It is also known as sweetleaf or sugarleaf, and is 300 times sweeter than sugar. It does not ferment, and has a stable pH value. This makes stevia the ideal sugar substitute.Sugar has a detrimental and addictive impact on the body. To avoid this, many traditional peoples have used stevia in place of sugar in their drinks (e.g. in yerba mate), or for medicinal teas. For instance, in Japan, stevia accounts for 40% of all sweeteners on the market.Stevia appears to have a slight blood sugar reducing effect by improving insulin sensitivity.
Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) is a heart tonic, important in the treatment of metabolic syndrome. Rosemary’s most active phytochemical, carnosol, lowers oxidative stress, and so is effective in fighting inflammation and cancer. You can harvest these properties by using rosemary in your cooking, especially when you’re preparing meats, stews, and stir-fries. Or try brewing a relaxing rosemary tea.
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