Diabetes is the name given to a condition in which a person has too much sugar in their blood. There are two main types of diabetes: type 1 and type 2. In type 1 diabetes, blood sugar is too high because the person’s body is unable to produce insulin. In type 2 diabetes, blood sugar is too high because either the person’s body can’t produce enough insulin, or the insulin produced is rejected by the body’s cells. The role of insulin is to the control the level of sugar in the blood and transfer it to the cells to turn into energy.
Having high blood sugar can be dangerous, as if left untreated it can lead to complications with the heart, eyes, kidneys, nerves and feet.
People with diabetes can take medication to control their blood sugar, but it’s also important to follow a healthy, balanced diet that is low in sugar, calories and saturated fat.
As well as cutting down on unhealthy foods, there are some other types of foods people with diabetes could eat more of, in order to improve blood sugar levels.
Two popular cooking ingredients which have been shown in some studies to lower blood sugar levels are garlic and onion.
“Garlic and onions may help to lower blood sugar levels, making them beneficial for people with insulin resistance (the precursor for type 2 diabetes) or diabetes,” said dietitian Juliette Kellow.
According to Kellow, in one study of patients with diabetes, a 100g serving of red onion significantly reduced blood sugar levels.
Diabetes.co.uk also noted that onion bulb extract could reduce high blood glucose.
Garlic, meanwhile, was shown in a study to help reduce levels of blood sugar in people with type 2 diabetes, as well as offering benefits in the treatment of the condition, added Diabetes.co.uk.
“Although the research recommends using garlic for reducing blood sugar levels only under the guidance of your doctor, it could provide a range of benefits for diabetics in conjunction with their usual treatments of insulin and diet,” said the diabetes expert.
Garlic contains compounds called allicin, allyl propyl disulfide and S-allyl cysteine sulfoxide, that raise insulin levels in the blood.
Moderate amounts of garlic supplements could also offer benefits to people with diabetes, according to the study.
In addition, raw or cooked garlic or aged garlic extract can help to regulate blood glucose and potentially stop or lower the effects of some diabetes complications.
Medical website Healthline added that a 2006 study found raw garlic may help reduce blood sugar levels as well as lower the risk of atherosclerosis.
Atherosclerosis is a disease in which plaque builds up in the arteries, and people with diabetes are more at risk of atherosclerosis-related inflammation.
Heart disease affects approximately 80 per cent of people with diabetes, said Healthline, and garlic consumption may reduce the risk of getting it.
If you are considering taking garlic supplements, Healthline advises speaking to your doctor first.