The #1 Spice to Help Lower Blood Sugar, Recommended by Health Experts

Hint: It’s not cinnamon.

a recipe photo of the Ginger Roasted Salmon & Broccoli

Blaine Moats

The benefits of spices go beyond making food taste good. They have bonafide health properties, too. And when it comes to reducing blood sugar and improving insulin resistance, cinnamon is perhaps the most commonly recommended spice to do just that. But as delicious as it is, if you’re solely focused on cinnamon, you may be missing out on other spices to add to your routine that can also be effective. 

Learn about the No. 1 spice to lower your blood sugar, diabetes-friendly recipes to try starring the spice and other ways to manage your blood sugar levels. And guess what: our pick is just as warming as cinnamon.

What Is High Blood Sugar? 

High blood sugar, also known as hyperglycemia, is defined as having blood sugar that is higher than normal. Over time, high blood sugar can lead to a diagnosis of prediabetes or diabetes. In people who have been diagnosed with diabetes, high blood sugar can occur for many reasons, according to the American Diabetes Association (ADA) 

  • If you have type 1 diabetes and you didn’t take enough insulin.
  • If you have type 2 diabetes, you have insulin resistance and your cells are not taking up blood sugar from your bloodstream as they should. 
  • Because you ate more or moved less—or a combination of both. 
  • Due to physical stress from an illness, such as a cold or flu.
  • Due to psychological stress.
  • Due to the dawn phenomenon, a surge of hormones that occurs in the early morning.

These are just some of the reasons you may experience high blood sugar. Chronically high blood sugars in people with diabetes are dangerous and can increase the risk of complications such as heart disease, kidney disease and nerve damage (neuropathy). Extremely high blood sugar can result in diabetic ketoacidosis (more common in people with type 1 diabetes), a life-threatening emergency, per the ADA.

The #1 Spice to Lower Blood Sugar 

Ginger tops our list for its potent blood sugar benefits. Ginger packs powerful polyphenols like gingerol, which combat inflammation, something that may indirectly help balance blood sugar, says Kanchan Koya, Ph.D., author of the Spice Spice Baby cookbook. “Inflammation has been linked to insulin resistance and poor blood sugar control. Therefore, balancing inflammation with spices like ginger may have a beneficial effect on blood sugar,” she says, adding that more studies are needed.

Much of the research supporting the use of ginger has been done with ginger supplementation. This is different from using ginger in recipes. However, the results on ginger and blood sugar are interesting and promising. 

In a review and meta-analysis published in Nutrients in 2024, researchers investigated the effects of common herbs and spices found in the Mediterranean diet—black cumin, clove, parsley, saffron, thyme, ginger, black pepper, rosemary, turmeric, basil, oregano and cinnamon—on blood sugar in people with type 2 diabetes. They measured fasting blood glucose levels, glycated hemoglobin (A1C) and insulin concentrations. Ginger, curcurmin, saffron and cinnamon lowered fasting blood sugar significantly, while black cumin and ginger reduced A1C and decreased insulin levels. Supplemental ginger (doses ranged from 600 to 3,000 milligrams per day) was the only spice that had a significant impact on all three outcomes that were measured. To compare, 1,000 mg of ginger is about ½ teaspoon of ground ginger or 1 teaspoon of grated raw ginger. 

“Some research indicates that ginger can positively impact blood sugars by improving insulin sensitivity and slowing down the digestion of carbohydrates, which leads to less of a spike in blood sugars after a meal,” says Colette Micko, a registered dietitian and diabetes educator at Top Nutrition Coaching. That research was a meta-analysis of 10 studies published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine in 2018. Ginger may inhibit enzymes that play a role in the digestion and absorption of carbohydrates, as well as impact pathways related to glucose metabolism and protect beta cells (insulin-producing cells in the pancreas), the authors of that study point out.

Ginger presents additional benefits, Micko notes, “Many people who have prediabetes and diabetes are at high risk of cardiovascular disease, and ginger has been shown to positively impact cholesterol levels.”

While we don’t have much clinical data examining the effect of culinary use of ginger, Koya notes that cooking with the spice can only help. “There is little downside to using ginger, so I say why not incorporate it for those beneficial polyphenols, anti-inflammatory and digestion-boosting effects,” she says. The one caution is if you have heartburn, as large amounts of ginger can aggravate symptoms, Koya adds.

Consuming a variety of plants—including herbs and spices—is an important strategy to help prevent diabetes or manage blood sugar if you have the condition. “Herbs and spices add flavor and variety. They also have inflammation-reducing potential,” says Micko. In addition, herbs and spices contain no added sodium or fat, important factors to consider if you have diabetes and need to pay extra attention to your heart health.

Yet, keep in mind that simply adding one spice or herb to your diet without making other changes will not magically lower your blood sugar. That’s where that recommendation to consume a variety of herbs, spices and other plant foods, like vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts and seeds is key when you’re putting together a blood-sugar-friendly diet.

Other Ways to Lower Blood Sugar

Lifestyle factors such as regular exercise, stress management, adequate sleep and smoking cessation are also important strategies that assist in lowering blood sugars, notes the American Heart Association.

Two positive changes you can make today is get adequate sleep tonight and find ways to move more in your day, particularly after eating. “Aiming for at least seven hours of sleep per night has been shown to positively impact blood sugar, metabolism and overall health,” Micko says. “Walking 10 to 15 minutes after eating has been shown to greatly reduce post-meal blood sugar levels by increasing insulin sensitivity,” she adds.

Ginger Recipes to Try 

There are so many opportunities to add ginger to the foods you enjoy. Combine ginger with foods high in fiber, which is a key ingredient in blood sugar management, notes the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Fiber is the indigestible part of carbohydrate found in plants (fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes and whole grains), which promotes digestive regularity and feelings of fullness, contributes to gut health and reduces blood sugar spikes. 

The Bottom Line 

Ginger may assist in reducing blood sugars by improving insulin sensitivity and reducing inflammation. However, keep in mind that ginger is not meant to replace medication, and it won’t magically reduce blood sugar on its own. Instead, use ginger alongside lifestyle modifications, such as eating a plant-forward diet, regular exercise, stress management and adequate sleep. 

Your best bet is to add ginger to the food you eat, such as smoothies, oats, salad dressings, vegetable bowls, meat marinades and more. If you are curious about ginger supplementation, talk to your health care provider or registered dietitian.

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