Two Spices That Reduce the Risk of Heart Disease in Diabetics

Photo credit: Bigstockphoto
Photo credit: Bigstockphoto

Heart disease in diabetics is a growing problem. As cases of type 2 diabetes continues to escalate from lack of exercise, poor eating habits and obesity – so do the complications of diabetes, especially heart disease. It takes good eating habits, physical activity and adequate blood sugar control to lower the risk of heart disease in diabetics, but two common spices found in the grocery store could make the fight against heart disease in diabetics a little easier.

Diabetes and Heart Disease: Spice up Your Food

Spices have medicinal properties, and according to a study published in the journal Experimental Biology, two common spices most Americans already have in their kitchen may help lower the risk of heart disease in diabetics – cloves and cinnamon.

The Medicinal Power of Eating Cloves

Cloves are native to Indonesia, and they’re commonly used in Indian cooking – but they may do more than add great flavor. In a study carried out at the Agricultural University in Pakistan, researchers found that eating as little as one to two cloves each day lowered total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, triglycerides and glucose levels in people with type 2 diabetes.

How does eating cloves work its magic? It helps insulin function more efficiently so that less is needed to get glucose into cells where it can be used as energy. If you want these benefits, try adding cloves to winter squash or pumpkin for a potent dose of beta-carotene and the glucose-lowering effects of this powerful spice.

The Benefits of Cinnamon

Cinnamon may also offer protection against heart disease in diabetics. Like cloves, cinnamon boosts the function of insulin and has the added benefits of reducing inflammation in type 2 diabetics. This helps to lower blood sugar levels and ease inflammation in the arteries in the heart that could lead to heart disease or a heart attack.

Some doctors hesitate to recommend cinnamon to diabetics for fear it could drop their blood sugar levels too low. Talk to your doctor before using cinnamon if you have type 2 diabetes since the response can be variable. Once you have the approval of your doctor, start with the lowest dose known to be effective – about 1/5 of a teaspoon in your cereal in the morning.

Select your cinnamon wisely. Choose Ceylon cinnamon over the more common cassia cinnamon whenever possible since cassia cinnamon contains coumarin, a compound that can be toxic to the liver. Be sure to monitor your blood sugars closely to see if you’re getting a response.

Heart Disease in Diabetics: The Bottom Line?

Eating cloves and sprinkling cinnamon on your cereal may be beneficial if you have type 2 diabetes and concerned about heart disease. Talk to your doctor about these natural insulin-enhancing spices, but keep in mind these results are only preliminary. On the other hand, eating these spices in small doses is unlikely to cause health problems – just don’t go overboard.

References:

Experimental Biology 2006; April 1-5; San Francisco, California.

Medscape.com. “Cinnamon and Cloves for Diabetes?”


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