There may be a cheap and tasty way to fight type 2 diabetes. All you need is rosemary and oregano — popular spices used in Latin and Italian cuisines. Researchers at the Human Nutrition University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign found that these two spices lower glucose in the blood.

For the study, Dr. Elvira Gonzalez Mejia, of the university's Division of Nutritional Sciences and Department of Food And Science, and her team, were looked for a more natural and affordable way to fight type 2 diabetes. "There is a need to identify natural compounds that can aid in the management of this disease," the authors of the study wrote, according to Yahoo Health. The study stemmed from a large number of Mejia's diabetic patients, who were having trouble paying for their medicine.

The largest groups of people with type 2 diabetes are African-Americans, Hispanic-Latino Americans, and American Indians. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there's a lack of healthy foods and health insurance among many of these populations, putting them at risk for diabetes. Mejia and her colleagues decided to research how different herbs and spices could affect diabetes patients. They wanted to see if any of the spices could interfere with a diabetes-related enzyme just as effectively as diabetes drugs. They found that both rosemary and oregano showed signs of lowering blood sugar, just like diabetes medicine.

But although both greenhouse-grown herbs and dried (commercial) herbs acted similarly in targeting the enzyme, they found that the fresh herbs were more likely to have polyphenols and flavonoids (antioxidants) than the commercial spices. Meanwhile, dried Greek oregano, Mexican oregano, and rosemary were better inhibitors of the enzyme than the greenhouse-grown herbs, according to a press release. Although the results were positive, the researchers cautioned that more testing is necessary before treatments with the spices can be developed. 

Other spices have been labeled as diabetes fighting as well. According to Livestrong, cinnamon, golden turmeric, and garlic are also helpful in lowering blood sugar. With about eight percent of Americans affected by type 2 diabetes, these spices could offer alternative solutions to people with limited resources. And although these spices could be very helpful in lowering blood sugar, researchers say they are by no means a substitution for healthy eating and exercise. A majority of Americans diagnosed with type 2 diabetes are overweight or obese, and should incorporate good nutrition with physical activity into their lifestyles.

Source: Bower A, Hernandez L, Berhow M, Gonzalez de Mejia E. Bioactive Compounds from Culinary Herbs Inhibit a Molecular Target for Type 2 Diabetes Management, Dipeptidyl Peptidase IV. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. 2014.