Fenugreek – Enhances Carb Metabolism for Diabetics
Fenugreek, or trigonella foenum-graecum, is a popular herb cultivated in southern Europe and Western Asia and is used in abundance in a variety of cuisines particularly in India. Fenugreek has a vast variety of health benefits and the seeds are high in minerals such as calcium, magnesium, potassium and selenium. The herb is also high in non-starch polysaccharides which help lower bad LDL cholesterol and additionally bind to toxins in food helping to protect the colon wall.
Traditionally used to enhance libido it also has been grown for centuries to assist with blood sugar metabolism problems such as diabetes.
Fenugreek seeds are high in insoluble and soluble fibre, the latter of which is known to help lower blood sugar by delaying the digestion and absorption of carbohydrates in the intestines. Additionally, the seeds are abundant in an amino acid called 4-hydroxy isoleucine. Research on this chemical indicates that it has a protective effect on the liver and additionally stimulates the production of insulin.
To date there have only been a few studies examining fenugreek’s effect on diabetes, however those that have been conducted have shown positive results.
One study examined the hypoglycaemic effect of fenugreek seed powder in 60 non-insulin dependent diabetic patients. The powder was given to patients for 7 days over a control period subsequently followed by the experimental 24 weeks. During the 24 weeks a total of 25g of Fenugreek seed powder was administered daily in two equal doses during lunch and dinner. The results showed that Fenugreek was able to lower fasting blood glucose levels and improve glucose tolerance. Additionally insulin levels were also diminished.
A recent study published in The International Journal of Basic and Clinical Pharmacology examined the effect of Fenugreek as an adjunct therapy to metformin. 60 diabetic patients were assigned to two groups. Group 1 were given 500g metformin twice a day while group 2 received metformin and 1g of fenugreek seed powder three times a day. After 12 weeks results showed a significant reduction in fasting and postprandial blood sugar levels in both groups. Glysolated haemoglobin (HbA1c) levels too were also improved. The improvement, however, was statistically more significant in group 2 which received both metformin and fenugreek.
A third study highlighted how eating baked goods like bread made with fenugreek flour can help reduce insulin resistance in people with type 2 diabetes and ultimately improve carbohydrate metabolism.
Before deciding to take fenugreek it is important to talk to your doctor as it is known to interact with certain drugs such as blood thinners and other diabetic medications.
The current recommended dosage for Fenugreek is between 2 and 15g a day – although the most credible studies have used 12.5g twice daily. Nevertheless, positive effects have been noted with just 2.5g twice a day.
If you prefer not to take a supplement, you can always add fenugreek to food while cooking. Look out for recipes that use fenugreek and don’t be afraid to experiment. One study highlighted how you take fenugreek plays an important role in its effectiveness as those who took it with yoghurt showed no changes in blood glucose while those who soaked it in hot water had significantly reduced fasting blood sugar levels.
- Sharma, R. D., et al. Use of fenugreek seed powder in the management of non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus. Nutrition Research 16.8 (1996): 1331-1339.
- Kaur, Manmeet, et al. To study the efficacy and tolerability of fenugreek seed powder as add-on therapy with metformin in patients of type-2 diabetes mellitus. International Journal of Basic & Clinical Pharmacology 5.2 (2016): 378-383.
- Losso, Jack N., et al. Fenugreek bread: a treatment for diabetes mellitus. Journal of medicinal food 12.5 (2009): 1046-1049.
- Kassaian, Nazila, et al. Effect of fenugreek seeds on blood glucose and lipid profiles in type 2 diabetic patients. International journal for vitamin and nutrition research 79.1 (2009): 34-39.