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Aromatic herbs in the Mediterranean diet lower blood sugar levels

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In a recent study published in the journal nutrients, Researchers in Spain investigated the effect of aromatic herbs and spices included in the Mediterranean diet (MedDiet) on the blood sugar profiles of people with type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM). They found that black cumin, cinnamon, ginger, curcumin, and saffron significantly lowered fasting blood sugar levels. They also found that black cumin and ginger significantly improved glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c) levels in T2DM patients, and cinnamon and ginger significantly reduced insulin levels.

review: Changes in food preference and intake behavior after glucagon-like peptide-1 analog treatment: techniques and opportunitiess. Image credit: aboikis / Shutterstock


T2DM is a serious medical problem, affecting 460 million people worldwide. Its prevalence has skyrocketed over the past 40 years, with 60% of patients having three or more comorbidities 10 years after diagnosis, and 6.7 million deaths per year. A variety of risk factors influence the disease, including genetics, metabolism, and the environment. Although non-modifiable factors such as ethnicity and family history are involved, T2DM may be prevented by addressing modifiable risk factors such as lack of physical activity, obesity, and unhealthy diet. Dietary guidance is essential to improve patients’ longevity and quality of life.

MedDiet emphasizes high intakes of extra virgin olive oil, carbohydrates with a low glycemic index, and moderate intake of fish, poultry, and dairy products. Additionally, limit your intake of red meat and alcohol. There is evidence that MedDiet may have a positive impact on metabolic syndrome and T2DM, as demonstrated by reduced diabetes risk and improved glycemic profiles. This meal incorporates a variety of fragrant herbs and spices such as black cumin, cloves, parsley, saffron, thyme, ginger, black pepper, rosemary, turmeric, basil, oregano, and cinnamon, which have anti-tumor, It is known for its potential health benefits, including antioxidant and anti-cancer properties. -Inflammatory and cholesterol-lowering effects. Therefore, the researchers of this study aimed to investigate the effect of all these aromatic spices and herbs on the blood sugar profile of her T2DM subjects.

About research

Current systematic reviews and meta-analyses use databases such as Web of Science, PubMed, and Scopus to identify peer-reviewed articles and intervention studies. Case studies, commentaries, letters, conference papers, narrative reviews, and studies not conducted with human or child subjects were excluded. The systematic review included 77 studies and the meta-analysis included 45 studies (3050 participants).

Studies used various doses of spices and herbs and evaluated their effects on blood sugar profiles. Primary outcomes included changes in fasting blood glucose, insulin, and HbA1c, and secondary outcomes included changes in weight and body mass index (BMI). Statistical analysis included determination of mean and standard deviation changes and use of Cochran’s Q and Higgins I.2 test. Risk of publication bias was assessed using an Egger plot. The quality of the included studies was assessed using the methodology described by Kmet et al.

Results and discussion

Cinnamon supplementation significantly reduced fasting blood sugar levels in 6 of 11 studies. A meta-analysis showed a reduction of 18.67 mg/dL compared to placebo, but the difference was not statistically significant when predictive values ​​were considered. Curcumin supplementation in seven studies showed a significant reduction in fasting blood glucose levels (p < 0.001) compared to placebo, with significant differences including predictive values. Ten studies demonstrated that taking ginger supplements reduced fasting blood glucose levels (17.12 mg/dL, p = 0.0004) compared to placebo, with no significant differences including predicted values. Black cumin supplementation in eight studies resulted in a significant reduction in fasting blood glucose levels (p = 0.0001) compared to placebo, but the difference was not significant when predictive values ​​were taken into account. Using saffron supplements significantly lowers blood sugar levels, and the effect is more pronounced when combined with physical activity. Overall, black cumin showed the most significant reduction in fasting blood sugar levels, followed by cinnamon and ginger.

Additionally, only ginger and black cumin showed significant improvement in HbA1c, while cinnamon and ginger significantly reduced insulin levels. Among the aromatic herbs and spices analyzed in MedDiet, ginger was the only one contributing to significant reductions in all three test results: HbA1c, fasting blood sugar, and insulin levels.

The quality of studies selected for review (mean score 0.54) was lower than the quality of studies selected for meta-analysis (mean score 0.68). Despite the study’s large size, it did not take into account body weight or lifestyle changes that affect fasting blood glucose levels, as well as variations in study quality, inadequate statistical analysis, and standardization. Research results have been limited by challenges posed by a lack of herbal dosage information.


In conclusion, this study was able to identify the potential therapeutic effects of various aromatic herbs and spices included in MedDiet for diabetes management. Further research is needed to determine the optimal dosage, evaluate the impact of active ingredients of herbs and spices, and facilitate the application of targeted interventions for glycemic control in patients with T2DM.

Reference magazines:

  • Effects of aromatic herbs and spices in the Mediterranean diet on the glycemic profile of patients with type 2 diabetes: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Garza MC et al. nutrients16(6):756 (2024), DOI: 10.3390/nu16060756, https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/16/6/756

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