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Tea for Blood Sugar

Tea for Blood Sugar Management

Looking for some warmth during winter season? What about a warming cup of tea that also helps control your blood sugar? I have a healthy Ayurvedic tea recipe that you can enjoy!

Mix the following herbs and spices together. Dried leaves and spices can be stored for a long period of time in a glass jar in a cool dark place. 

Make a total of 100 grams of the following mix:

  • Holy Basil or Tulsi                    – 25
  • Cinnamon or Dalchini (chips)  – 20
  • Gymnema Sylvestre or gurmar- 20
  • Fenugreek or methi                 – 10    
  • Orange Peel                             – 15
  • Ginger or adrak                        – 10      

Why these ingredients? Because each one contributes certain benefits for blood sugar or health.

How to Make the Tea?

Take a teaspoon of the Herbal mix and add it to a cup or use paper tea filters. Add hot water into the cup and cover for 10 minutes so the herbs are infused in water. Enjoy this tea 15 minutes before meals or 1 hour after meals. 

Please speak with your doctor if you are any medication.

Benefits of this Tea:

  1. The herbs in the tea will balance erratic blood sugar levels.
  2. The tea will improve circulation and increase metabolism.
  3. It will reduce sugar and carbohydrate cravings.
  4. Taken regularly especially before meals will induce weight loss.
  5. It will reduce stress levels in the body. 

Holy Basil

Holy Basil is an important and sacred Ayurvedic herb that is warming, bitter, and pungent. It is great for vata and kapha. It is not the exact same as common basil, it is more pungent and bitter, with larger leaves. It contains antioxidants apigenin, eugenol, geraniol, linalool, and flavonoids that counteract free radical damage in the body. Studies show it lowers blood sugar, delays the development of insulin resistance, and reduces lipids.

Cinnamon

Cinnamon is a well-known spice that lowers blood sugar and also contains antioxidants. You should use true cinnamon (Ceylon cinnamon) if possible. Many studies show effects such as:

  • Decreases glucose levels after food
  • Has insulin-like activity
  • Stimulates insulin receptors on fat and muscle cells, which allows sugar to go into cells
  • Reduces triglycerides and LDL cholesterol
  • Is high in polyphenols and other compounds that are antioxidants which reduce free radical damage and increase the body’s endogenous antioxidants such as glutathione
  • Cinnamon added to the diet increases liver glycogen storage

Gymnema sylvestre

This herb is native to India and used in Ayurveda for over 2000 years for diabetes. Studies show that it reduces blood sugar and encourages glucose uptake by upregulating glucose transporter-4. It also lowers triglycerides and cholesterol. It is unique because of two reasons:

  • It reduces the desire for sugar cravings!
  • It may help regeneration of beta cells in the pancreas and enhances production of insulin with continual use.

Fenugreek

Fenugreek seeds and leaves have been used in Ayurveda for medicinal purposes. Fenugreek contains many micronutrients but specifically it contains a galactomannan soluble fibre which reduces blood sugar and causes satiety which contributes to weight loss. It also contains 4-hydroxyisoleucine, which increases the body’s production of insulin. Studies show it also reduces cholesterol. Fenugreek also reduces the Glycemic Index of food when eaten together.

Orange Peel

Orange peel contains pectin which is a fibre shown in studies to lower blood sugar, insulin resistance, and cholesterol. In addition, orange peel also offers vitamin C and other antioxidants, as well as a pleasant citrus scent to your tea!

Ginger

Ginger is an amazing warming spice used in many cultures for thousands of years. It has many antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. Numerous studies show it reduces blood sugar, insulin resistance, triglycerides, and cholesterol. Gingerols also increase cellular antioxidants such as glutathione and inhibits the degeneration of pancreatic beta cells (that produce insulin).

Diet is very important in managing your blood sugar or diabetes. In addition to these wonderful herbs and ingredients, you can include bitter melon into your diet as well as fenugreek leaves into your food. Neem is also a great Ayurvedic herb that can be taken as a supplement capsule 15 minutes before meals, twice daily. As you can see, there are lots of natural ingredients you can use to manage your blood sugar!

Caution: If you are on blood-lowering prescription medications, use with caution as it may lower your blood sugar to dangerous levels. 

 

References:

Suanarunsawat T et al. Anti-diabetic and anti-oxidative activity of fixed oil extracted from Ocimum sanctum L. leaves in diabetic rats. Exp Ther Med. 2016 Mar;11(3):832-840.

Paul A Davis et al. Cinnamon intake lowers fasting blood glucose: meta-analysis. J Med Food. 2011 Sep ;14(9):884-9

Shanmugasundaram ER et al. Possible regeneration of the islets of Langerhans in streptozotocin-diabetic rats given Gymnema sylvestre leaf extracts. J Ethnopharmacol. 1990 Oct;30(3):265-79.

Persaud SJ et al. Gymnema sylvestre stimulates insulin release in vitro by increased membrane permeability. J Endocrinol. 1999 Nov;163(2):207-12.

Sajad Ahmad, WaniPradyumanKumar. Fenugreek: A review on its nutraceutical properties and utilization in various food products. Journal of th Saudi Society of Agricultural Sciences. 2016

Farzad Shidfaret al. The effect of ginger (Zingiber officinale) on glycemic markers in patients with type 2 diabetes. J Complement Integr Med. 2015 Feb 10

Debrup Chakraborty, et al. [6]-Gingerol isolated from ginger attenuates sodium arsenite induced oxidative stress and plays a corrective role in improving insulin signaling in mice. Toxicol Lett. 2012 Jan 10 ;210(1):34-43.

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“There is nothing better than a friend, unless it is a friend with chocolate.” ― Linda Grayson

Chocolate is the “Food of the Gods” for a reason: it not only tastes good, but has impressive health benefits.

Chocolate comes from cacao beans which are actually seeds of a fruit from the Theobroma cacao tree. It is native to Mexico, Central and South America, but now also grown in West Africa, Sri Lanka, and Malaysia. It grows well in rich tropical soil. Cacao was used by ancient civilization in Central America such as the Aztecs, Mayas, and Olmec. They used it in religious ceremonies, as currency, in beverages, and food. Columbus then brought the cacao bean to Europe but it was in the 1800s that chocolate was actually manufactured. Then various ingredients were added such as milk and sugar, turning it into modern chocolate.

Cacao Powder

Raw, unsweetened cacao powder is high in antioxidants. Various brands/types vary based on the cacao bean used, the roasting, grinding, and quality. To produce raw cacao powder, the cacao seeds and surrounding pulp are fermented in boxes. Unprocessed cacao beans are very bitter due to alkaloids so they need to be fermented. The seeds are then dried in the sun or ovens and shipped to cacao processors to be milled into chocolate liquor. Then the fat (cocoa butter) is mechanically pressed to produce powder.

Cacao powder is different than cocoa powder. Cacao is:

  • The purest form, raw, and the least processed.
  • High source of antioxidants such as flavonols, catechins, and beta-carotene
  • It is a superfood of nutrients, including a high source of magnesium as well as zinc, iron, calcium.
  • Has more fibre and monounsaturated fats
  • It has protein and amino acids

Cocoa powder:

  • Cocoa powder is a heated form of cacao, by undergoing a higher temperature processing
  • It is less expensive
  • It still contains some antioxidants
  • It may be mixed with more sugar
  • Dutch-cocoa is darker cocoa is alkalized and less acidic and richer in taste

Antioxidants

Cacao powder is one of the richest sources of antioxidants and there are many studies confirming the benefits of cacao powder or dark chocolate.

  • Dark chocolate was shown to have more than double the amount of catechins than green tea which is an antioxidant superfood.
  • A cup of hot cocoa had double the antioxidants than a glass of red wine.
  • Cacao powder has more antioxidants than blueberry, cranberry, and pomegranate

Cacao powder and dark chocolate contain high levels of polyphenols such as flavonols and proanthocyanins which are antioxidants. Flavonols are a class of phytochemicals found in plants. Cacao powder and unsweetened dark chocolate contains the most flavonols. Milk chocolate has less than half of its flavonols available since the milk protein binds the antioxidants, making them less absorbable. Milk chocolate also contains sugar and is more heavily processed, therefore making it less healthy. Therefore, to ensure you get the most health benefits, choose raw cacao powder or dark chocolate without additives!

Cardiovascular Health

Many studies show that cacao powder and dark chocolate improve cardiovascular health in the following ways:

  • Flavonols protect the epithelial cells lining the arteries which produce nitric oxide that dilates the arteries, increasing blood flow and decreasing blood pressure.
  • Magnesium in cacao is a vasodilator that reduces blood pressure
  • Dark chocolate reduces LDL oxidation (being a strong antioxidant). Lipid peroxidation is a factor in atherosclerosis and heart disease.
  • Dark chocolate consumption reduces C-reactive protein, which is a marker for inflammation
  • A meta-analysis showed that dark chocolate reduces the risk of Coronary Heart Disease, Heart Failure, and stroke

Blood Sugar

Choosing cacao powder or dark chocolate (without sugar added) can help lower blood sugar. Studies show cacao reduces blood sugar levels and improves liver enzymes. It also helps protect against insulin resistance. Cacao consumption has shown to have an inverse relationship with incidence of diabetes.

Mood and anxiety

Cacao powder and dark chocolate were shown to increase blood flow to the brain and reduce the levels of stress hormones. They also improve mood and contain magnesium which is relaxing. Cacao contains tryptophan which enhances relaxation. It contains phenylethylamine (PEA) which improves memory and mood as it induces acethylcholine, dopamine, and serotonin release. Cacao contains anandamide which improves mood and anxiety.

Cancer

Cacao procyanidins and catechins are shown to inhibit carcinogenesis. Cacao’s antioxidants also lower free radical damage that can contribute to cancer. Cacao also reduces inflammation which is associated with carcinogenesis.                         

Quality

Chocolate is popular in many countries, with European countries consuming half of the world’s chocolate. The Ivory Coast in Africa is the largest producer of cocoa. Cacao bean plantations employ locals to harvest the beans, dry them, and then are transported to companies. However, undercover investigations have discovered illegal child labour, therefore you should look for chocolate that is Fair Trade or organic.

Usage

You can use cacao powder in smoothies, baking recipes, raw desserts, pudding, smoothie bowls, homemade ice cream, cookies, oatmeal, coffee.

Try my delicious Spiced Chocolate Chip Cookies.

References:

Healing Spices, Baharat Aggarwal 2011

Food Science: Death By Chocolate   Elaine B Feldman, PhD   Nutrition Today 33(3): 1998

Brilliant Food Tips and Cooking Tricks: 5,000 Ingenious Kitchen Hints, Secrets, Shortcuts, and Solutions, David Joachim, 2004

SJ Crozier, AG Preston, JW Hurst, MJ Payne, J Mann, L Hainly, DL Miller. 2011. Cacao seeds are a “Super Fruit”: A comparative analysis of various fruit powders and products. Chem Cent J. 5: 5.

Lee Hooper et al. Effects of chocolate, cocoa, and flavan-3-ols on cardiovascular health: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized trials. Am J Clin Nutr. 2012 Feb 1.

Brian Buijsse et al. Chocolate consumption in relation to blood pressure and risk of cardiovascular disease in German adults. Eur Heart J. 2010 Jul;31(13):1616-23.

Jia-Yi Dong et al.  Chocolate consumption and risk of stroke among men and women: A large population-based, prospective cohort study. Atherosclerosis. 2017 Mar 4 ;260:8-12.

Sansone Roberto et al. Cocoa flavanol intake improves endothelial function and Framingham Risk Score in healthy men and women: a randomised, controlled, double-masked trial: the Flaviola Health Study. Br J Nutr. 2015 Sep 9:1-10.

Maria Monagas et al. Effect of cocoa powder on the modulation of inflammatory biomarkers in patients at high risk of cardiovascular disease. Am J Clin Nutr. 2009 Nov;90(5):1144-50.

Dirk Taubert et al. Effects of low habitual cocoa intake on blood pressure and bioactive nitric oxide: a randomized controlled trial. JAMA. 2007 Jul 4;298(1):49-60.

Zubaida Faridi et all. Acute dark chocolate and cocoa ingestion and endothelial function: a randomized controlled crossover trial. Am J Clin Nutr. 2008 Jul;88(1):58-63.

Sheng Yuan et al. Chocolate Consumption and Risk of Coronary Heart Disease, Stroke, and Diabetes: A Meta-Analysis of Prospective Studies. Nutrients. 2017 Jul 2 ;9(7).

Fei Gong et al. Chocolate Consumption and Risk of Heart Failure: A Meta-Analysis of Prospective Studies. Nutrients. 2017 Apr 20 ;9(4).

Susanna C Larsson et al. Chocolate consumption and risk of myocardial infarction: a prospective study and meta-analysis. Heart. 2016 Jul 1 ;102(13):1017-22.

Georgina E Crichton et al. Habitual chocolate intake and type 2 diabetes mellitus in the Maine-Syracuse Longitudinal Study: (1975-2010): Prospective observations. Appetite. 2017 Jan 1 ;108:263-269.

Chisa Matsumoto et al. Chocolate consumption and risk of diabetes mellitus in the Physicians’ Health Study. Am J Clin Nutr. 2015 Feb ;101(2):362-7.

Kang N, et al. Cocoa procyanidins suppress transformation by inhibiting mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase. 2006. J Biol CHem. 283(30): 20664-73.

Yamagishi M, et al. Chemoprevention of lung carcinogenesis by cacao liquor proacthocyanidins in a male rat multi-organ carcinogenesis model 2003.. Cancer Letters. 191(1): 49-57.

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