Top 6 Herbs and Spices for Diabetics

Health and Wellbeing

The number of people diagnosed with diabetes in the UK has increased from 1.4 million to 3.5 million since 1996. This figure is estimated to rise to five million by 2025. In particular, type 2 diabetes has been growing at a very high rate and is one of the world’s most common long term health conditions. 

Being diagnosed with diabetes no doubt brings concerns about your health. But it can also bring concerns about your diet. Will you have to give up your favourite foods? Will you have to settle for bland food from now on?

Don’t worry – having diabetes doesn’t mean that you’re limited to boring food. While it’s best to limit your salt and sugar intake, you don’t have to compromise on taste, and there are plenty of herbs and spices you can add to enhance your meals. What’s more is that most of these herbs and spices have health benefits as well.

Here are some of the best herbs and spices for diabetics.


Cinnamon is one of the best spices for reducing levels of blood sugar. It contains 18% polyphenols, which are micronutrients that help fight disease. It also happens to be an antioxidant which improves insulin sensitivity. Additionally, cinnamon has been shown to lower cholesterol and reduce inflammation in the body.

Cinnamon is delicious in porridge, fresh fruit or even in tea and coffee as an alternative to sugar.


Turmeric is another spice which boasts plenty of benefits for diabetics. This brightly coloured, aromatic spice has been used as medicine for centuries. Turmeric contains curcumin, the most important component of the plant. Curcumin has a whole list of health benefits, including supporting digestion, improving liver function and supporting heart and brain health. Curcumin improves insulin function, reduces insulin resistance and protects beta cells (responsible for insulin production). Its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties also help to reduce the symptoms in diabetics.

Add turmeric to soups, curries, stews and scrambled eggs. Turmeric also works well sprinkled in drinks like tea, coffee and smoothies.


Like turmeric, fenugreek has been used as medicine for centuries. Fenugreek seeds have been found to be fantastic for reducing blood glucose levels, improving insulin resistance, lowering cholesterol levels and improving glucose tolerance. Fenugreek seeds contain fiber and other chemicals that are effective in slowing digestion and the absorption of carbohydrates and sugar in the body.

Commonly used in Indian cuisine, fenugreek seeds are usually roasted and ground and used in curries, pickles and sauces. You can also use the seeds in a salad or baked into flatbreads. Fenugreek powder can be added to soups and curries, as well as steeped in tea.


Garlic is one of the most powerful plants out there when it comes to health benefits. As well as being highly nutritious but low in calories, garlic boosts the immune system, reduces blood pressure and cholesterol, helps prevent Alzheimer’s disease and dementia and improves bone health. For diabetics in particular, garlic is linked to lower fasting blood glucose levels and lower the effects of diabetes complications. Garlic also has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antibacterial, antiviral and anticancer properties.

Garlic is easy to use and enhances most savoury dishes, from vegetables and soups, to meat and fish dishes.

Holy basil

Holy basil is related to the sweet basil most of us are familiar with. Commonly known as tulsi in Hindi, it’s considered a sacred plant by Hindus and is often placed around shrines. This herb has a multitude of health benefits and has been traditionally used as medicine since ancient times. Holy basil is effective in lowering blood glucose levels as well as increasing insulin. Cardiovascular complications are common in diabetics and holy basil can help protect the heart and lower cholesterol with its antioxidant properties.

You can use holy basil in the same way you use regular basil – in soups, stews, fish and meat dishes. You can also use it in herbal drinks.


This fragrant herb is a powerful antioxidant with tons of health benefits, including improving memory and concentration, promoting hair growth, aiding digestion, protecting against bacterial infections and fighting damage to skin cells. When consumed regularly, rosemary can regulate and lower blood sugar levels, cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

Rosemary performs well when added to a sauce or rubbed on fish and meat like lamb and chicken breast. It’s also a great accompaniment to vegetables like bell peppers, legumes and cabbage. You can also try steeping fresh rosemary leaves in hot water to enjoy as a drink. Try our recipe for garlic and rosemary oil dip.

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