Fenugreek lowers blood sugar and cholesterol
(NaturalHealth365) The spice fenugreek, may not be a common ingredient but compelling research reveals that if used regularly it protects your heart, liver and pancreas. Fenugreek is commonly used for a number of reasons including – digestion repair, better metabolism and gynecological health.
The natural compounds in fenugreek and its medicinal value have been used in Ayurveda to treat a variety of conditions. Past and ongoing research reveal its ability to maintain healthy blood parameters. Fenugreek is a resourceful ingredient and a fantastic alternative to help manage high blood sugar and cholesterol. Best of all, it appears to be free of nasty side effects – unlike its counterpart found within the pharmaceutical industry.
How can spices help to defeat diabetes?
Fenugreek seeds contain an abundant amount of aminoacid 4-hydroxy isoleucine. According to research, aminoacid exerts a protective effect on the liver and stimulates the production of insulin. A 2009 study showed that 4-hydroxy isoleucine improved the blood sugar levels and insulin action in diabetic rats – demonstrating a significant liver protect factor.
A human clinical study on patients with newly diagnosed type-2 diabetes showed positive results using fenugreek. The patients were randomly grouped into two, one group received an extract of fenugreek (1 gram per day) and the other group received a placebo. Both the groups were given the regular diabetes care – diet and exercise.
After two months, the fenugreek supplemented group showed better blood sugar control and insulin sensitivity compared to the other. Researchers also observed a significant reduction in the serum triglyceride levels and increase in the good cholesterol levels.
The glucose-lowering effect of fenugreek seeds is largely due to the presence of soluble fiber. According to a 2007 study, the soluble fiber fraction delayed carbohydrate digestion and absorption, while increasing the action of insulin. These studies indicate that regular fenugreek consumption can be beneficial during diabetes therapy.
How does fenugreek lower cholesterol – without side effects?
Many studies have underscored fenugreek’s cholesterol-lowering effect – as it is a great source of soluble (21.7%) and insoluble fiber ( 26.8%). Researchers say that the high fiber content actually blocks cholesterol absorption. The presence of soluble fiber, in particular, increases the viscosity of the digested food and inhibits the uptake of cholesterol and bile acids.
Another strong reason behind fenugreek’s cholesterol-lowering effect is the fact the fiber acts as a food for the beneficial gut bacteria (pre-biotic). The volatile fatty acids released by these gut bacteria enter the bloodstream and suppress the cholesterol production by the liver. Based on previous studies, researchers suggest a total quantity of 20 – 25g per day – in three divided doses which yield maximum benefit in terms of cholesterol control.
The best ways to add fenugreek to my diet
Fenugreek seeds are naturally high in minerals like, calcium, potassium, selenium, manganese, magnesium, iron and zinc. It is a good source of B vitamins, vitamin A and C.
In addition, these tiny seeds also contain polysaccharides – saponins, tannins, pectins, hemicellulose, and mucilage that account for their soluble and insoluble fiber content. Fenugreek also contains choline – which helps to protect the nerves in your brain and slow down premature mental decline..
Fenugreek is safe to consume on a daily basis and can be incorporated into many recipes as a spice (seeds), herb (dried or fresh leaves) or a vegetable (sprouts/microgreens). The tender leaves can be added to salad – to boost the mineral intake.
You may also like to lightly toast the seeds or make a powder for marinades, soups, and sauces. The most popular use of the powder form is in curry recipes for a special flavor. Powdered fenugreek can also be used in pancake mixes, lentil (dal) and rice recipes.
Keep in mind, fenugreek seeds have a strong bitter taste – so be careful on quantity. To remove the bitterness – you may want to soak the seeds overnight. On the other hand, fenugreek leaves are less bitter and can be used in large quantities and work well in dishes like, lentil curry.
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1. Sowmya P, Rajyalakshmi P. Hypocholesterolemic effect of germinated fenugreek seeds in human subjects. Plant Foods Hum Nutr. 1999;53(4):359-65.
2. Gupta A, Gupta R, Lal B. Effect of Trigonella foenum-graecum (fenugreek) seeds on glycaemic control and insulin resistance in type 2 diabetes mellitus: a double blind placebo controlled study. J Assoc Physicians India. 2001 Nov;49:1057-61.
3. Haeri MR, Izaddoost M, Ardekani MR, Nobar MR, White KN. The effect of fenugreek 4- hydroxyisoleucine on liver function biomarkers and glucose in diabetic and fructose-fed rats. Phytother Res. 2009 Jan;23(1):61-4.
4. Hannan JM, Ali L, Rokeya B, et.al; Soluble dietary fibre fraction of Trigonella foenum-graecum (fenugreek) seed improves glucose homeostasis in animal models of type 1 and type 2 diabetes by delaying carbohydrate digestion and absorption, and enhancing insulin action. Br J Nutr. 2007 Mar;97(3):514-21..
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