Posted on Apr 04, 2017, 6 a.m.
Researchers find that frequently eating legumes, and in particular lentils, reduces the chance of developing type 2 diabetes by as much as 35 percent.
Research has shown that type 2 diabetes continues to be persistent health problem afflicting almost 30 million in the U.S and over 400 million globally. But a new study shows that people can significantly reduce the risk of diabetes by eating more legumes (peas, lentils, beans, chickpeas, soybeans, peanuts, alfalfa, and clover). One reason legumes are so healthy is because of their low glycemic levels and fiber that makes them digest slowly, releasing blood glucose much slower than processed food. Legumes are also nutritious containing high levels minerals, B vitamins, and phytochemicals (which are compounds that have proven to protect against certain diseases like diabetes and cardiovascular disease).
Until this new study, there was little evidence to support high consumption of legumes and the association between a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes. Researchers from Spain investigated this link in people who were already at a higher risk of developing heart disease. The study also investigated the effects of legume substitutes like high protein and carbohydrate foods. The study was published in the journal Clinical Nutrition.
Eating Lentils Significantly Reduces Diabetes Risk
The research team analyzed over 3000 healthy individuals without any signs of type 2 diabetes. The participants were tracked for their consumption of legumes. One group had a lower consumption of about 28 grams of legumes per week. The other group consumed about 60 grams of legumes per week. Data was collected from the participants every year for just over 4 years, and researchers found only 266 cases of type 2 diabetes.
After at the end of the study period, those individuals who ate more legumes had a dramatic 35% less risk of developing type 2 diabetes. More surprising was that lentils had the strongest correlation between the high consumption of legumes and a lower risk of type 2 diabetes. In fact, people who had one hearty serving of lentils per week were 1/3 less at risk of developing diabetes.
In another twist, researchers discovered that individuals could replace legumes with carbohydrate and protein rich food such as potatoes, rice, bread, eggs, and still get a moderate reduction in their overall diabetes risk. The authors of the study concluded that a Mediterranean diet along with a frequent consumption of lentils and other legumes may be a good diabetes prevention program. This is especially true for older people who have a higher than normal risk of cardiovascular disease.