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Fenugreek curbs diabetes by slowing down absorption of sugars in body and by stimulating insulin. Daily consumption of Fenugreek lowers blood sugar levels and controls type 2 diabetes. Read about benefits of fenugreek, best ways to consume it and fenugreeks role in diabetes management, in this article.
Fenugreek, also known as Methi, botanically belongs to the Fabaceae family. It is used as herb (dried or fresh leaves), spice (seeds) or as a vegetable (fresh leaves and sprouts). Fenugreek is a plant that grows in parts of Western Asia and Europe. The leaves of this plant are edible, and small brown seeds are well known for their use in medicine. Fenugreek seeds are slightly bitter in taste and considered to be one of the healthiest seeds used in cooking. Fenugreek seeds are also a rich source of dietary soluble fiber which helps provide essential control on various health conditions such as diabetes mellitus, body fluids, blood pressure and heart rate. It has been used for centuries by breastfeeding mothers to promote milk production. Due to high content of vitamins, minerals and proteins, it helps prevent diabetes while acting as a fertility booster. It is also believed to be beneficial in digestive problems, gout, erectile dysfunction and eczema. The bitter tasting seeds and leaves of fenugreek are incredibly beneficial for treating those suffering from diabetes. Almost all the medicinal properties of fenugreek can be attributed to the presence of various active compounds in it. Fenugreek contains phytochemical components and essential nutrients such as chlorine, calcium, potassium, manganese, copper, zinc, magnesium, iron, trigonelline and yamogenin.
Benefits of Fenugreek: The Multi-Talented Seeds
Some of the benefits of fenugreek include the following:
1. Prevents Diabetes
Fenugreek is famous for its medicinal properties, which can control blood sugar levels in people with type 2diabetes. In people with type 1 diabetes, taking 50 grams of fenugreek seed powder, twice a day, can reduce the amount of sugar in urine and improve glucose tolerance.
2. Reduces Cholesterol
Fenugreek contains Saponins that are known to reduce the absorption of cholesterol from fatty foods, especially the bad LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol and triglycerides.
3. Aids in Weight Loss
Being a source of natural soluble fiber and suppressing appetite, fenugreek boosts supply of energy and balances metabolism. Fenugreek is rich in galactomannan that is a healthy polysaccharide that causes fat breakdown and sugar metabolism in body. Another main reason why fenugreek helps in weight loss is that it has the ability to reduce the feeling of hunger. Fenugreek herbs make stomach feel fuller.
4. Increases Breast Milk Supply
It has been found that Fenugreek has galactagogue properties that can increase supply of breast milk for nursing mothers within twenty-four to seventy-two hours after taking the first dose of this herb. Once an adequate level of milk production is reached, most women stop fenugreek consumption and maintain milk supply with adequate breast stimulation thereafter.
5. Protects from Cancer
The mucilage present in fenugreek helps in flushing out toxins from body and thus prevents cancer. Fenugreek may be an effective anticancer agent. According to a study, it has been found that fenugreek extract inhibits the growth of cancer cells leaving out normal cells.
6. Improves Digestion
Fenugreek aids digestion since it is a rich source of soluble fiber. It relieves indigestion, prevents constipation as well as heals digestive problems created by stomach ulcers. Fenugreek acts as a natural digestive agent, its lubricating properties help soothe stomach and intestines.
7. Male Infertility
Various researches suggest that having fenugreek seed oil drops, three times daily for three months, improves sperm count in men who have a low concentration of sperm or infertility issues. It was also traditionally used as a fertility enhancer. A new fenugreek seed extract was shown to increase testosterone levels and sperm count. When 500 mg of fenugreek extract was consumed for 12 weeks, the testosterone levels increased from 8.17 percent to 11.97 percent. Sperm parameters also improved with an increase in sperm count, sperm motility and reduction in abnormal sperm morphology. Fenugreek seed extract was thus shown to improve sexuality and fertility in men with symptomatic hypogonadism.
8. Ovarian Cysts (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome)
According to a research, it was found that taking 1000 mg of a specific type of fenugreek seed extract a day can reduce the size of ovarian cysts and help to regulate length of menstrual cycle and time between having a period.
9. Improves Glucose Tolerance
Galactomannan, present in seeds of fenugreek, is an essential constituent that help lower the rate of digestion and absorption of carbohydrates. This improves the overall glucose tolerance and lowers the blood glucose levels in people with type 2 diabetes.
One study found that fenugreek can actually protect liver from the effects of toxins and inhibit the growth of cancer cells. It can also alleviate the symptoms of dysmenorrhea a condition which causes severe pain during menstrual cycles. Fenugreek is also used as a poultice where it is wrapped in a piece of cloth, warmed, and applied directly to the skin to reduce swelling (inflammation), muscle pain, local pain, swelling of lymph nodes (lymphadenitis), wounds, leg ulcers, pain in the toes (gout) and eczema.
Fenugreek Seeds in Diabetes Management
Powdered seeds of fenugreek available as capsules are high in soluble fiber that slow down the absorption of sugars in stomach, while the presence of the amino acid 4-hydroxyisoleucine have anti-diabetic properties and strengthens the insulin secretion under hyperglycemic conditions. Increased insulin thus helps in the treatment of type 1 and type 2 diabetes mellitus. Researchers in India found that incorporating 15 grams of powdered fenugreek seeds into a meal by people with type 2 diabetes reduces the rise in post-meal blood glucose.
Best Ways of Consuming Fenugreek
Fenugreek can be consumed in a number of ways, some of them include:
- Dry roast fenugreek seeds on medium high heat for two minutes, stir frequently and add 1 tablespoon over curries, dishes or salads.
- Soak one teaspoon of fenugreek seed overnight in water and gulp it down the next morning with 1 of glass water to reduce stomach pain.
- Sprout fenugreek seeds by soaking them in water overnight; cover it with a muslin cloth for few days until tiny green shoots appear. Once sprouted, it can be added to any kind of salads. Season with lemon or pepper and enjoy the healthy salad.
- Herbal fenugreek teas made with lemon and honey is an effective remedy used to treat fevers.
- For diabetes: 5 to 100 grams of powdered fenugreek seeds added to one or two meals daily for four days is recommended in diabetes.
- For painful menstruation (dysmenorrhea): 1800-2700 mg of powdered fenugreek seeds, three times daily for the first three days of menstruation, followed by 900 mg, three times daily for the remaining two menstrual cycles, is suggested.
- For increasing sex drive: 600 mg of fenugreek seed extract every day for two menstrual cycles.
- For improving sexual performance: 600 mg of fenugreek seed extract every day alone or with magnesium 34 mg, zinc 30 mg, and vitamin B6 10 mg, for 6-12 weeks is beneficial.
Thus, regular intake of fenugreek could be genuinely useful for diabetes patients. People who have a history of diabetes in their family, or who have their sugar level close to borderline for diabetes should eat fenugreek adequately. Although generally considered safe, fenugreek may sometimes cause a feeling of bloating in some people. Fenugreek should not be consumed during pregnancy since it stimulates uterine contractions. Although there is no recommended dose of fenugreek, it is important to discuss the use of fenugreek with a doctor to decide if it might be helpful to you.
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