Lentils help lower blood glucose levels by up to 35%
Blood sugar levels can be easily reduced by swapping out some starches such as potatoes or rice with lentils, according to a study.
Researchers from the University of Guelph found that replacing some starchy side dishes with lentils, also known as pulses, can improve the body’s response to the carbohydrates, lowering blood glucose levels by more than 20%.
Published in the Journal of Nutrition, 24 healthy adults had the glucose levels in their blood measured before and two hours after they were given four dishes: white rice only, half white rice and half large green lentils, half white rice and half small green lentils, and half white rice and half split red lentils. The four dishes were repeated using white potatoes instead of rice.
“We mixed the lentils in with the potatoes and rice because people don’t typically eat pulses on their own, but rather consume them in combination with other starches as part of a larger meal, so we wanted the results to reflect that,” said Professor Alison Duncan from the Department of Human Health and Nutritional Sciences.
There was a similar reduction in blood glucose when half of the starch was replaced with each of the three types of lentils, but replacing potatoes was particularly beneficial. Replacing half a serving of rice with lentils caused blood glucose to drop by up to 20%, while this increased to a 35% drop when replacing potatoes.
This is because pulses help slow digestion and the release of sugars found in starch into the bloodstream, which reduces blood glucose levels. Duncan said nutrient-dense pulses help reduce chronic diseases associated with mismanaged glucose levels, such as diabetes.
“This slower absorption means you don’t experience a spike in glucose. Having high levels over a period of time can lead to mismanagement of blood glucose, which is the hallmark of Type 2 diabetes. Essentially, eating lentils can lower that risk,” she explained.
Despite these benefits, the researchers said that pulses are not commonly consumed but they hope these results will highlight their health benefits and encourage people to increase their intake. Lentils are similar to rice and potatoes, so it is hoped that consumers should easily be able to replace some starches without overhauling their diet.
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