Sugar, salt and fat can help make your food more flavorful. People with diabetes, however, need to watch their sugar intake to help control their blood sugar levels and minimize their fat and salt intake due to an increased risk for stroke or heart attack. Using the right seasonings on your food can help you make it just as tasty without the unhealthy ingredients and may help you lower your blood sugar levels as well.
Spices to Replace Salt
Check your seasoning mixes and prepared sauces, as many contain a lot of salt or sodium. You'll want to avoid these and use savory herbs and spices instead. These seasonings tend to be the most effective for replacing that salty taste. Try onion, garlic, curry, coriander, ginger, black pepper, cumin or dill, recommends University of Nebraska Lincoln Extension. Other savory herbs you can use instead of salt include basil, bay leaf, chili powder, marjoram, thyme, rosemary, parsley, tarragon, sage, savory, oregano and red pepper flakes. Spices and seasonings like vinegar, lemon, chives, nutmeg, mace and cinnamon are also helpful for adding flavor to foods without adding sodium.
Spices to Limit Sugar
Some spices lend a sweet taste to foods, allowing you to use less sugar in your recipes. These include cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, anise, cardamom, mace, ginger and allspice. Both vanilla and almond extract can serve the same purpose in desserts and baked goods. You can often add one of these seasonings and reduce the sugar by up to one-third and still have a delicious treat.
Spices to Minimize Fat
Each tablespoon of fat, such as butter or oil, adds 100 calories and about 10 grams of fat to your daily totals. One way to reduce fat in your cooking is to use a low-sodium marinade or a sprinkling of spices and herbs on your protein source instead of breading and frying it or topping it with a sauce or gravy.
Potential Hypoglycemic Effects
Besides helping you to cook with less salt, sugar and fat, some herbs and spices may have blood sugar-lowering effects. For example, adding at least 1 gram, or about a teaspoon, of bay leaves to your diet each day for 30 days may help you decrease your blood sugar levels by more than 20 percent, according to a study published in the "Journal of Clinical Biochemistry and Nutrition" in January 2009. This doesn't mean you have to pile on the bay leaves, as other seasonings may help lower blood sugar or increase your insulin sensitivity as well. These include cinnamon, curry, basil, garlic, nutmeg, ginger, oregano, allspice, fenugreek, turmeric, cumin, coriander, mustard and onion.