The basics

Diabetes is a metabolic condition that some people are born with and others may develop over time. It affects the way people produce or respond to insulin, which in turn affects the way your body processes sugar.

Because of this, it’s important to take note of what you’re eating and how it may impact your blood sugar levels. Ginger, for example, is low in carbohydrates and calories. It has only 1.3 grams of carbohydrates per teaspoon. Known for its spicy taste and unmistakable flavor, ginger also contains potassium, iron, and fiber.

What are the benefits of eating ginger if you have diabetes?

Over the years, ginger has been shown to help reduce blood sugar levels and help regulate insulin response in people with diabetes.

In one 2014 animal study, obese rats with diabetes were given a mix of cinnamon and ginger. These rats experienced a wealth of benefits, including:

  • reduced body weight
  • reduced body fat mass
  • decreased blood sugar levels
  • increased insulin levels

According to researchers in a 2015 study, ginger powder supplements may help improve fasting blood sugar. Participants in this study were given 2 grams of ginger every day for 12 weeks. At the end of the study, researchers found that people in this group also experienced lower levels of:

  • hemoglobin A1c
  • apolipoprotein B
  • apolipoprotein A-1
  • malondialdehyde

Researchers in a 2016 study on rats with diabetes found that ginger might help protect against heart problems that occur due to diabetes.

Ginger’s anti-inflammatory properties may also help prevent certain diabetes complications.

Risks and warnings

Although many studies suggest that ginger could be useful in diabetes management, you should take precautions when consuming it. You shouldn’t consume more than 4 grams of ginger per day. Although side effects are rare, it’s possible to experience heartburn, diarrhea, and upset stomach if you eat ginger in large amounts.

Women who are pregnant should speak with their doctor about recommended use. It’s typically thought that pregnant woman shouldn’t eat more than 1 gram of ginger per day.

Speak with your doctor if you’re taking any blood-thinning medications. Ginger can also have blood-thinning effects, which can increase your risk of excessive bleeding.

You should also consult your doctor if you’re taking any blood pressure medications. Ginger can lower your blood pressure, which can cause irregular heartbeats.

How to add ginger to your diet

Though more research is needed, preliminary studies have suggested that ginger can help lower cholesterol and improve cardiovascular health. Ginger is also an efficient aid in preventing and reducing nausea. Most people can safely include it in their diets.

Keep these things in mind when adding ginger to your diet:

  • Choose natural, organic ginger root over processed ginger products. Ginger-flavored products, such as salad dressing, drinks, or sweets, generally lack nutritional value.
  • Try to be consistent with daily consumption. Regular consumption over a period of at least six weeks has shown positive results in diabetes management.
  • Avoid overconsumption. The best results occur by taking a certain dose over a long period rather than taking high amounts over a short period.
  • Let it evolve from treatment to treat. Get into the habit of mixing a pitcher of iced ginger lemonade, and treat your friends or family to a glass.

Ginger isn’t a replacement for your regular treatment. You should continue to follow your doctor’s recommendations. If you experience any unusual symptoms while eating ginger, you should stop using it.

The takeaway

Ginger can be an effective addition to your diabetes treatment if you use it in moderation. Eating up to 4 grams per day may help lower your blood sugar levels and regulate insulin production. Be sure to talk with your doctor before adding this to your treatment regimen. Together you can determine the best dosage for you, as well as discuss any potential side effects.

Keep reading: The 9 best places to find diabetes recipes »