Diabetes is a condition that requires constant attention and needs to be managed well in order to prevent further infections or illnesses. Before you start worrying already, let us tell you that managing diabetes is not very difficult if you diligently follow a healthy diet, remain physically active, and take medicines, if required, on time. People who are diabetic also follow certain natural ways to keep their blood sugar in check. One of them is using fenugreek seeds.
What Is Fenugreek?
Fenugreek is a plant that is commonly used for culinary purposes in North Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia including countries like India. In India, it is called methi in colloquial terms. It is so popular that it is used in different forms in Indian dishes – as fresh leaves, dried leaves (Kasuri methi), and seeds – to enhance culinary dishes. Fenugreek seeds are usually used as an essential spice to temper the dishes. Apart from culinary purposes, fenugreek plants as well seeds are largely believed to contain medicinal properties as well.
How Does Fenugreek Help Diabetes?
Fenugreek seeds are believed to be helpful to diabetics. They contain fiber and other good chemicals that may help to slow down digestion, thus helping a diabetic person feeling full for a longer time. Fenugreek seeds also lower the absorption of sugar and carbohydrates, which are otherwise harmful for a person with diabetes.
Some studies support the effectiveness of fenugreek in treating certain health conditions. Most of such studies have focused on the ability of fenugreek seeds in lower blood sugar in people who are diabetic.
In the year 2009, a small study highlighted that using around 10 gms of fenugreek seeds daily by soaking them overnight in hot water might prove helpful in controlling type 2 diabetes1.
In the same year, another small study suggested that consumption of baked goods made of fenugreek flour, like fenugreek bread, may help reduce insulin resistance that is often found in people with type 2 diabetes2.
Does It Have Any Side Effects?
Many people assume that if something is natural, then it is absolutely safe. However, we need to remember that anything that is overdone can end up having a detrimental effect on health instead of benefiting. And yes, it is also prudent to keep in mind other underlying health issues before trying anything new. This applies to fenugreek as well.
Usually, the amount of fenugreek (seeds or leaves) used in cooking is nominal and does not really have any serious side effects. However, when taken in large amounts, it is believed to cause bloating and gas.
Fenugreek is also thought to have an adverse reaction to several medications, including some of those that are used for the treatment of blood clotting disorders and diabetes. Therefore, it is important to discuss with your doctor if you wish to take fenugreek specifically to manage your diabetes. This way, your doctor might lower the doses of your diabetic medications to balance it with the fenugreek, thus preventing the danger of sudden low blood sugar bouts.
Apart from leaves and seeds, fenugreek is also available in the form of commercial herbal supplements. If you wish to consume fenugreek as supplements, you need to be cautious about the listed ingredients. For all you know, it may not actually contain the exact ingredients or the specific amount that has been mentioned on the label of the supplements3.
Ways To Use Fenugreek In Your Diet
There are different yet delicious ways to add fenugreek leaves and seeds to your diet. In Indian cuisine, fenugreek leaves and seeds are added to various dishes to enhance the taste. Here we give you a few healthy options that are not only healthy but delicious as well.
Fenugreek Seeds Sprout Salad
Soak a tablespoon of fenugreek (methi) seeds in a bowl of water for a week or more until you can see them sprouting. Drain the water (do not throw it away though) out of the sprouts in a colander.
In a salad bowl, add the sprouts, a pinch of salt, a dash of black pepper powder, one small finely chopped fresh onion, one medium red tomato finely chopped, half a lemon, grated lemon zest, and your choice of lettuce. Toss them well and eat it. Since fenugreek seeds are slightly bitter in taste, this type of salad will make it palatable to your taste. You can always experiment with veggies of your choice.
We all know that a few seeds of fenugreek are added to dosa batter. However, in this dish, you don’t need to add rice. Instead, soak half a cup of urad dal with a tablespoon of fenugreek seeds overnight. In the morning, blend them together using the same water you had soaked them in. Now, add salt (as per taste), a pinch of turmeric, quarter spoon red chilli powder, and a pinch of zeera (cumin) powder and mix it well. Add water to make the batter of dosa consistency.
On a hot tawa, spread this mixture like dosa and enjoy it with a bowl of hung yogurt.
This Indian bread is made with fresh fenugreek leaves and has been quite popular in Indian households for ages. To make this, you’ll need a cup of whole wheat atta, a bunch of fresh fenugreek leaves, a pinch of turmeric, a pinch of cumin powder, salt to taste, and a tablespoon of yogurt.
Add the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl. To this, add finely chopped fresh fenugreek leaves, yogurt, and 2 tablespoons of oil. Knead the dough well while sprinkling water as you go. Make sure you do not add a lot of water. Keep the dough’s consistency hard enough as fenugreek leaves tend to leave their own water which could otherwise make the dough soggy. Leave it aside for 30 minutes.
To make the parathas, divide the dough into small balls, flatten them on a rolling board with a rolling pin in round shape. Roast them on a tawa with a little oil as you make regular rotis. Enjoy this delicious meal with set yogurt.
The Final Word
Fenugreek seeds and leaves have been a staple in most cuisines around the world for years. They have also been equally popular for their various health benefits, including managing blood sugar in diabetics. However, remember that no herb or seed can ‘cure’ a condition like diabetes completely. And, never give your regular diabetes medications a miss and take up fenugreek as a standalone treatment. This can prove to be disastrous to your health. As mentioned earlier, if you intend to consume fenugreek seeds or leaves regularly to control your diabetes, do discuss this with your doctor first. Your doctor will help you by probably lowering your diabetic medications and monitoring your blood sugar levels regularly. If need be, you can also request your doctor and get a blood test done at least once a month to see if fenugreek has been making any difference to your diabetes. Having said this, also continue to remain physically active, avoid high-sugar high-carb foods, and follow all your diabetes-related instructions as suggested by your physician. Only then will you be able to reap the complete benefit of using fenugreek.