Flavor With a Side of Diabetes Health
Who knew a diabetes diet could lead to fun exploration of your green thumb and your global palate? Type 2 diabetes cooking can be both tasty and healthy once you learn about the health benefits of certain spices. “Spices should take the place of sodium in your diet, and they have health benefits — they’re rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds,” says Juli Adelman, LD, CDE, with the Harold Schnitzer Diabetes Health Center at the Oregon Health & Science University in Portland. “I encourage people with type 2 diabetes to grow their own herb gardens and boost up their spice racks.”
Many herbs, such as parsley, mint, and dill, pack a flavor punch that simply makes eating or drinking more pleasurable, while others could help with managing type 2 diabetes. Enjoy eating and growing herbs and spices; just don’t consider them a substitute for other type 2 diabetes treatment. “Moderation is key,” says Gustavo Ortega Jr., RD, with Kaiser Permanente in West Los Angeles. “The idea is to use spices as part of a balanced diet instead of as a supplement.”
Here are six spices that can make your diabetes-friendly meals more tasty and healthy.
“Cinnamon is an antioxidant that’s been shown to improve insulin sensitivity and reduce fasting blood sugars,” says Ortega. Antioxidants are man-made or natural substances that can prevent or slow cell damage, according to the National Institutes of Health. Cinnamon’s ability to improve insulin sensitivity is highlighted in a review of plant-based compounds for people with diabetes. The review appeared in November 2014 in the International Journal of Molecular Science. Adelman suggests adding cinnamon to oatmeal or mixing it into chili and stew.
Garlic appears to be linked with lower fasting blood glucose levels, according to an analysis published in December 2015 in the Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Adelman suggests including it in hummus, mashing cooked garlic into cauliflower, or adding cooked garlic to steamed spinach. Garlic may thin your blood or interact with medications, so talk to your doctor or pharmacist before incorporating it into your diet. In general, always check with your doctor or a dietitian about your nutritional needs before making any changes to your diet, Ortega says.