Diabetes mellitus (DM), commonly referred to as diabetes, refers
to a group of metabolic diseases that affect how your body uses
blood sugar (glucose).
According to International Diabetes Federation statistics from
2014, an estimated 387 million people worldwide have diabetes.
About 90 percent of them have Type 2 diabetes.
There are three main types of diabetes: Type 1, Type 2 and
• In Type 1 diabetes, the pancreas fails to produce enough insulin.
The exact cause is unknown, however risk increases with certain
factors like family history, genetics, exposure to certain viruses
like the Epstein-Barr virus, and vitamin D deficiency.
• Type 2 diabetes begins when cells fail to respond to insulin
properly. Factors that put you at a higher risk include obesity,
excess abdominal fat, inactive lifestyle, family history, age, high
blood pressure, high cholesterol, high triglyceride levels, and a
history of polycystic ovaries.
• Gestational diabetes affects women during pregnancy.
Some of the symptoms of high blood sugar include frequent
urination, increased thirst or hunger, unexplained weight loss,
fatigue, slow healing process and frequent infections. If left
untreated, it can cause many complications.
Maintaining normal blood sugar levels is necessary for your
overall health. You can do it with a healthy diet, regular exercise,
not using tobacco, maintaining a healthy body weight and taking
the prescribed medications. You can also try some herbs and spices
to ease symptoms and control your blood sugar.
Here are the top 10 herbs and spices for diabetes.
Cinnamon contains bioactive components that can help lower
blood sugar levels.
A 2013 study published in the Annals of Family Medicine and
Diabetes Care shows that cinnamon is beneficial for people with
Type 2 diabetes.
Based on this study, it may have a beneficial effect on fasting
plasma glucose, LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol and triglyceride
levels in patients with Type 2 diabetes.
• You can take 1 to 2 grams of cinnamon daily in the form of tea.
You can also sprinkle it on your oatmeal, smoothies or use it in
cooking and baking.
• Another option is to take cinnamon supplements. However,
always consult a doctor for the proper dosage suitable for your
Note: If you take a blood-thinning medication, avoid taking
Fenugreek is an herb that diabetic people should include in their
diets. Due to its hypoglycemic activity, it can improve glucose
tolerance and lower blood sugar levels. In addition, its fiber content
slows down the absorption of carbohydrates and sugars.
In a 2009 study published in the International Journal for Vitamin
and Nutrition Research, researchers concluded there is a positive
effect of fenugreek seeds on blood glucose and lipid profiles in
Type 2 diabetic patients.
• Soak 1 to 2 tablespoons of fenugreek seeds in water overnight.
The next morning, drink the water and eat the seeds on an empty
stomach. Follow this remedy daily.
• You can also eat baked goods made with fenugreek flour.
• Another option is to take a supplement after consulting a doctor.
Anti-diabetic, hypolipidemic and anti-oxidative properties in ginger are beneficial in controlling blood sugar levels. Ginger also
can improve insulin sensitivity, reduce oxidation and improve
cholesterol levels. It even helps with weight loss.
A 2014 study published in the Complementary Therapies in
Medicine journal found that daily consumption of three 1-gram
capsules of ginger powder for 8 weeks proved useful for patients
with Type 2 diabetes.
• Drink 2 to 3 cups of ginger tea daily.
• Also, include fresh or dry ginger in your cooking.
• Another option is to take ginger supplements after consulting
Turmeric is a good spice to control high blood sugar. It has antiinflammatory,
antioxidant, anti-atherosclerotic, heart-protecting
and weight-reducing actions that help diabetic people manage
blood sugar levels and reduce complications from the disease.
A 2013 study published in the Evidence-Based Complementary
and Alternative Medicine and Phytomedicine journal highlighted
the important role of curcumin, a key component in turmeric, in
the prevention and treatment of diabetes and associated disorders.
A 2014 study published in the Journal of Diabetes & Metabolic
Disorders clearly indicates the beneficial role of turmeric in
controlling kidney-related complications caused by diabetes.
• Include raw or powdered turmeric in your cooking.
• Take a supplement, but only after consulting a doctor.
Garlic also helps maintain healthy blood sugar levels in diabetic
people, thanks to its anti-diabetic and hypolipidemic properties. It
contains sulfur compounds that protect against oxidative damage
and even high cholesterol.
According to a 2011 study published in the Pakistan Journal of
Pharmaceutical Sciences, garlic supplementation with standard
anti-diabetic agent provides better blood sugar control in Type 2
A 2014 study published in the Journal of Diabetes & Metabolic
Disorders suggests that garlic can help treat diabetes and related
• Eat 2 or 3 raw garlic cloves daily on an empty stomach.
• Also, include garlic in your cooking or take a supplement after consulting a doctor.
Aromatic curry leaves may also be useful in managing high
blood sugar. Several minerals in this herb help maintain normal
glucose level in the blood. In addition, it influences carbohydrate
metabolism. It also reduces the risk of oxidative stress.
A 2013 study published in the International Journal of Food and Nutritional Sciences highlights the hypoglycemic properties of
curry leaf powder in controlling the fasting and postprandial blood
glucose levels among diabetics.
A 2007 study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology
indicates that curry leaf extract can help bring down the severity
• Chew a few tender curry leaves daily in the morning on an empty
• You can also add curry leaf powder to your soups or salads.
Fenugreek seeds (trigonella foenum graecum) are high in soluble
fibre, which help lower blood sugar by slowing down digestion
and absorption of carbohydrates. Several clinical trials showed
that fenugreek seeds can improve most metabolic symptoms
associated with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes in humans by
lowering blood glucose levels and improving glucose tolerance. It
contains trigonelline, which is known to reduce blood sugar level.
Take the seeds after soaking them in water overnight or powdered
form with buttermilk.
Bitter Melon (Karela):
The fruit contains at least three active substances with antidiabetic
properties, including charantin , vicine and an insulinlike
compound known as polypeptide-p. Either these substances
work individually or together to help reduce blood sugar levels.
Bitter melon also contains a lectin that reduces blood glucose
concentrations by acting on peripheral tissues and suppressing
appetite - similar to the effects of insulin in the brain. This lectin
is thought to be a major factor behind the hypoglycemic effect that
develops after eating bitter melon. Karela is rich in vitamins a, b1,
b2, c, iron and its regular use prevents complication associated
with diabetics such as eye complications, neuritis and defective
metabolism of carbohydrates.
Jambu fruit (jamun):
Its seed contains jamboline, which controls the excessive
conversion of starch to sugar. Seed powder can be used with water
or buttermilk. It reduces the quantity of sugar in urine and allays
the unquenchable thirst.
They are scientifically proved to be anti-diabetic. Drink fresh juice
of leaves with pinch of pepper.
A well known liver tonic, its regular use tones up the hepatic-biliary
system and regulates sugar & fat. Preliminary research suggests
that intake of aloe vera juice can help improve blood glucose
levels and may therefore be useful in treating people with diabetes.
Aloe also have following positive effects due to the presence
of compounds such as lectins, mannans and anthraquinones.
Decreased blood lipids (fats) in patients that have abnormally
high levels of these molecules in their blood. Decreased swelling and faster healing of wound injuries: Leg wounds and ulcers are
common complications of diabetes, and they typically take longer
time to heal than in healthy non-diabetic individuals.
It is as effective as insulin.
Curry Patta13. Curry Patta:
Eating 10 fresh fully-grown curry leaves every morning for
3months is said to prevent diabetes.
It helps in controlling blood sugar in diabetics by inhibiting the
excessive absorption of sugars from the intestines.
Beans are high in carbohydrate and fiber and stimulates the
production of insulin. It should be eaten liberally to keep diabetes
Cucumber and Radish leaves:
These low a carbohydrate vegetables are beneficial in the
prevention and control of diabetes.
It has active hypoglycemic substances, r allyl propyl disulphide
The 15 Best Superfoods for Diabetics
Include these nutrition superstars in your diabetes diet to lower
blood sugar, burn fat, reduce inflammation, and gain more health
Chocolate is rich in flavonoids, and research shows that these
nutrients reduce insulin resistance, improve insulin sensitivity,
drop insulin levels and fasting blood glucose, and blunt cravings.
But not all chocolate is created equal. In a 2008 study from the
University of Copenhagen, people who ate dark chocolate reported
that they felt less like eating sweet, salty, or fatty foods compared to
volunteers given milk chocolate, with its lower levels of beneficial
flavonoids (and, often, more sugar and fat, too). Dark chocolate
also cut the amount of pizza that volunteers consumed later in the
same day, by 15 percent. The flavonoids in chocolate have also
been shown to lower stroke risk, calm blood pressure, and reduce
your risk for a heart attack by 2 percent over five years.
Broccoli is an anti-diabetes superhero. As with other cruciferous
veggies, like kale and cauliflower, it contains a compound called
sulforaphane, which triggers several anti-inflammatory processes
that improve blood sugar control and protect blood vessels from
the cardiovascular damage that’s often a consequence of diabetes.
(Heart disease is the leading cause of death for people with diabetes,
so this protection could be a lifesaver.) Sulforaphane also helps flip on the body’s natural detox mechanisms, coaxing enzymes to turn
dangerous cancer-causing chemicals into more innocent forms that
the body can easily release.
Blueberries really stand out: They contain both insoluble fiber
(which “flushes” fat out of your system) and soluble fiber (which
slows down the emptying of your stomach, and improves blood
sugar control). In a study by the USDA, people who consumed
2 1/2 cups of wild blueberry juice per day for 12 weeks lowered
their blood glucose levels, lifted depression, and improved their
memories. Researchers credit these results to anthocyanins in the
berries, a natural chemical that shrinks fat cells and also stimulates
the release of adiponectin, a hormone that regulates blood glucose
levels, among other things. Increasing adiponectin levels can help
keep blood sugar low and increase our sensitivity to insulin.
You may not think of oatmeal as a superfood, but it can help reduce
the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Oatmeal contains high
amounts of magnesium, which helps the body use glucose and
secrete insulin properly. An eight-year trial showed a 19 percent
decrease in type 2 diabetes’ risk in women with a magnesiumrich
diet, and a 31 percent decreased risk in women who regularly
ate whole grains. Steel-cut oats are just as easy to cook as quickcooking
oatmeal, but when grains are left whole they are filled
with the fiber, nutrients, and bound antioxidants that challenge
digestion in a good way, allowing blood sugar to remain more
Fish is a slimming star: rich in protein, it will help to keep you
satisfied; but also, fish contains a special type of fat that helps cool
inflammation. Thousands of studies show that people with the
highest blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids have less body-wide
inflammation, the very inflammation that leads to and worsens
diabetes and weight problems. A fish-rich diet can also reduce
your risk of developing health problems, especially stroke, as a
result of your diabetes. People who ate baked, broiled, or steamed
fish reduced their odds for a stroke by 3 percent, as reported in a
2010 Emory University study. (However, fried fish—such as fastfood
fish sandwiches, fish sticks, and fried seafood of any type—
Following a Mediterranean-style diet rich in olive oil helps reduce
the risk of type 2 diabetes by as much as 50 percent compared to a
diet low in fat, according to a recent Spanish study. Independently,
researchers at Technical University of Munich (TUM) and the
University of Vienna found that olive oil improved satiety the most
when compared to lard, butter, and rapeseed (canola) oil. In addition
to being a standout source of health-promoting monounsaturated
fats, olive oil is also rich in antioxidant nutrients that protect cells
from damage, and prevents the development of heart disease.
This fiber supplement, long used for constipation relief, is proven
to help people with diabetes control blood sugar better. A 2010
review from the University of California, San Diego, published in
the Annals of Pharmacotherapy, confirms this benefit. People who
took psyllium before a meal saw their post-meal blood sugar levels
rise 2 percent less than those who didn’t use the supplement. One
caution: The researchers recommend waiting at least four hours
after taking psyllium before taking medications, because psyllium
can decrease their absorption.
Packed with protein and cholesterol-lowering soluble fiber,
legumes such as tender, white cannellini beans are slow to raise
blood sugar. As part of a 2012 University of Toronto study, 121
people with type 2 diabetes followed a healthy diet containing a
daily cup of beans or whole grains. After three months, the bean
group saw their A1c levels—a check of average blood sugar
levels—fall nearly twice as much as the whole-grain group.
Spinach is one of many leafy greens that have been shown to drop
the risk of developing diabetes; collards are another great choice.
People who consume more than one serving a day of spinach and
other leafy greens slashed their risk by 14 percent, compared to
people who ate less than 1/2 a serving daily, found one British
study. This green is particularly rich in vitamin K, along with
several minerals including magnesium, folate, phosphorus,
potassium, and zinc. It’s also a good source of the plant chemicals
lutein and zeaxanthin, and various flavonoids. Although spinach
is technically a rich source of calcium, another nutrient in spinach
called oxalic acid prevents much of that calcium from being
absorbed, but you can blanch spinach (boil it for just one minute)
to reduce this chemical.
One analysis found that sweet potatoes reduce HbA1c measures
between 0.30 and 0.57 percent and fasting blood glucose by 10 to
15 points. Sweet potato also contains anthocyanins, which are the
natural pigments that give the sweet potato its deep orange color
and the antioxidants believed to have anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and antimicrobial qualities.
The most widespread tree nut in the world, walnuts contain the
polyunsaturated fatty acid called alpha-linolenic acid, which has
been shown to lower inflammation. The L-arginine, omega-3s,
fiber, vitamin E, and other phytochemicals found in walnuts and
other tree nuts make them potent: scientists have found them to
have antioxidant, anticancer, antiviral, and anti-high cholesterol
actions. These powers can help stop and reverse the progression
of chronic conditions such as diabetes and heart disease. Snack
on walnuts in their shells; the time it takes to crack them open can
help you slow down, so your body has more time to register the
food and you feel full with fewer calories.
Quinoa tastes like a grain, but it’s more closely related to spinach
than it is to rice. Contrary to most grains, quinoa is a dense source
of “complete” protein (14 grams per ½ cup!), boasting all nine
essential amino acids. One is lysine, which helps the body absorb
all that fat-burning calcium and also helps produce carnitine, a
nutrient responsible for converting fatty acids into energy and
helping to lower cholesterol. One of the most fiber-rich grain-like
foods, quinoa contains 2.6 grams per 1/2 cup, and fiber helps to
balance blood sugar levels and keep you fuller, longer.
Several studies show that this delicious spice can help reduce
blood sugar. One, published in the journal Diabetes Care, noted
how people with type 2 diabetes who’d taken one or more grams
of cinnamon daily had dropped their fasting blood sugar by a
whopping 30 percent, compared to people who took no cinnamon.
They also reduced their triglycerides, LDL cholesterol, and total
cholesterol by upwards of 25 percent. Here’s why: Cinnamon is
rich in chromium, a mineral that enhances the effects of insulin.
It’s also loaded with polyphenols, antioxidants that gather up all
the free radicals in your blood to protect you from cancer and also
lower systemic inflammation, further guarding you from diabetes
and heart disease.
Dark green leafy vegetables like collard greens are excellent
sources of vitamin C, which helps lower cortisol in the body and
consequently reduces inflammation as well. Collard greens (and
other cruciferous veggies like kale and Brussels sprouts) are also a
good source of alpha-lipoic acid (ALA), a micronutrient that helps
the body deal with stress. When scientists at the Linus Pauling
Institute at Oregon State University gave aging rats ALA, they
found that the animals’ bodies created their own antioxidants,
making them better able to resist toxins in the environment, and
to reduce inflammation. Good news for diabetes: ALA also helps
reduces blood sugar and can help to strengthen the nerves damaged
by diabetic neuropathy. Just be careful not to overcook it, which
creates a strong sulfur smell. Just five minutes of steaming, and
Turmeric may have been protecting the health of an entire Indian
subcontinent for about 5,000 years. A traditional Indian diet
features white rice and flour breads, which as rapidly digested
carbs would ordinarily raise blood sugar dramatically. But the
presence of turmeric—the yellow spice that lends its color to many
curry dishes—helps to manage the potent impact on blood sugar.
Curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, is the compound
believed to regulate fat metabolism in the body. Curcumin acts
directly on fat cells, pancreatic cells, kidney cells, and muscle cells,
dampening inflammation and blocking the nefarious activities of
cancer-causing tumor necrosis factor and interleukin-6. Experts
believe the combined action of all of these factors together gives
curcumin the power to reverse insulin resistance, high blood sugar
and high cholesterol, and other symptoms linked to obesity.