Happy Thanksgiving. I hope you’re with friends or family enjoying your day.
My house will be pretty hectic this year. My sister Debbie and her family flew in to join us. My sister’s birthday is coming up and she decided to fly in for a weekend of celebrations.
I love having a big group around the table. Every year, I have a huge free-range turkey delivered. Like most of my meals, Thanksgiving is centered around protein and a primal diet. We also try to keep our glycemic load low.
But I get it… It’s a holiday and no one will blame you for overindulging and not following the glycemic load chart too closely.
But if you haven’t been paying too much attention to your insulin and blood sugar levels lately, there’s something I use in my practice that helps to keep your levels in balance. It’s completely safe and naturally improves your body’s response to insulin.
I’m talking about fenugreek. It’s safe and effective, and has been used to treat high blood sugar in herbal medicine for thousands of years.
But today, we know why it works, and how to use it more effectively. The secret lies with two special nutrients found in only a few plants in the world.
The first is called galactomannan, a type of soluble fiber that slows down the rate sugar gets absorbed into your blood. Diabetics who took fenugreek for eight weeks had their fasting blood sugar drop by 25%.1
Fenugreek also has a special amino acid called 4-hydroxyisoleucine which increases the production and effects of insulin. This lets you process and remove blood sugar naturally. In one study, fenugreek helped drop urinary sugar levels by 54%.2
And in a recent review of studies on five food supplements used to lower blood sugar, researchers found that fenugreek was the most consistent at lowering fasting blood sugar and glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c), both essential for people who need help with lowering blood sugar levels.3
Fenugreek is heart healthy too. The seeds are 25% galactomannan, and this natural soluble fiber can help keep your heart healthy. In one study, a gram of fenugreek per day lowered triglyceride levels and boosted HDL.4
The whole herb fenugreek is available at specialty health food stores. You’ll usually find it dried because fresh fenugreek can be a bit bitter for some people.
You can soak the powdered seed in water or juice and drink it. Use as much as 10 grams.
There are two kinds of fenugreek supplements, whole herb and seed extract. Whole herb will contain both leaf and seed parts. If you want to use whole herb, make sure to look at the label because some say whole herb and only have seed extract. I recommend starting with 500 mg twice a day.
My favorite way to use fenugreek is when I cook. It’s a common spice in Indian cooking. This time of year, it makes a great side dish when combined with organic green peas and heavy cream.
Fenugreek with Green Peas and Cream
• 1 bunch fenugreek, chopped
• ½ cup cashew
• 1 cup organic fresh green peas
• 1 tsp cumin seed
• 1 yellow onion
• 1 tbsp unsalted butter
• ½ cup whole milk
• 1 inch fresh ginger root
• ¼ cup heavy cream
• Sea salt and black pepper, to taste
Soak cashews in a cup of boiling water for 5 minutes.
Heat a teaspoon of oil in pan and add chopped onion and ginger. Cook until tender.
Add to a blender and blend to make a paste.
Melt butter in a heated pan.
Add cumin seeds and cook 30 seconds. Add onion-cashew paste and stir.
Reduce heat and cook for 6 to 7 minutes.
Add peas and blanched fenugreek leaves, salt and pepper to taste.
Add milk and bring to boil, then simmer until reduced.
Add cream and cook 2 more minutes.
To Your Good Health,
Al Sears, MD, CNS
1. Deng R. “A Review of the Hypoglycemic Effects of Five Commonly Used Herbal Food Supplements.” Recent Pat Food Nutr Agric. 2012 Apr 1.
2. Sharma RD., et al. “Effect of fenugreek seeds on blood glucose and serum lipids in type I diabetes.” Eur J Clin Nutr. 1990 Apr.
3. Deng R. “A Review of the Hypoglycemic Effects of Five Commonly Used Herbal Food Supplements.” Recent Pat Food Nutr Agric. 2012 Apr 1.
4. Gupta A, et al. “Effect of Trigonella foenum-graecum (fenugreek) seeds on glycaemic control and insulin resistance in type 2 diabetes mellitus: a double blind placebo controlled study.” J Assoc Physicians India. 2001 Nov.