Healthy and inexpensive, lentils and other legumes are a pantry must-have, particularly if you want to ward off type-2 diabetes

High in protein and low in fat, lentils are known to be a rich source of essential nutrients like folate, thiamin, pantothenic acid, vitamin B6, phosphorus, iron and zinc, among others.

Now new research has found that replacing white potatoes or white rice with lentils can lower your blood glucose levels by more than 20 per cent.

Lentils lower blood sugar levels

University of Guelph researchers found that swapping half a portion of the white rice or potatoes for lentils can significantly improve your body’s response to the carbohydrates.

“Pulses are extremely nutrient-dense foods that have the potential to reduce chronic diseases associated with mismanaged glucose levels,” says Prof Alison Duncan from the Department of Human Health and Nutritional Sciences.

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Replacing half a serving of white rice with lentils caused blood glucose to drop by up to 20 percent. Replacing potatoes with lentils led to a 35-per-cent drop.

Related: Top 5 nutrients: Are you getting enough?

The study

For the study, 24 healthy adults were fed 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.

Researchers measured glucose levels in the participants’ blood before they ate and for two hours afterward. They repeated the process for white potatoes alone and the same combinations of potatoes and lentils .

“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.”

The participants’ blood glucose fell by similar amounts when half the amount of each starch was replaced with each of the three types of lentils.

Lentils could help protect you from type-2 diabetes

Pulses, such as lentils, can slow digestion and the release of sugars found in starch into the bloodstream, ultimately reducing blood glucose levels.

“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,” says Prof Duncan.

Pulses contain components that inhibit enzymes involved in the absorption of glucose, and fibre contained in these foods can encourage the production of short-chain fatty acids, which can also help to reduce blood glucose levels.

So, when you’re looking for inspiration on what to make for dinner, have a look at recipes that include lentils!

Source: University of Guelph via www.sciencedaily.com and Wikipedia