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Eating More Legumes Helps with Blood Sugar Control

Legumes such as beans, peas, lentils and chickpeas are a good source of slowly digesting carbohydrates and resistant starch. A recent study indicates that eating about 190 grams (1 cup) of legumes per day may improve glycemic control, reduce blood pressure and lower your risk of heart disease.

The study included 121 participants with type-2 diabetes. Half of them followed a low-glycemic index diet rich in legumes that included 1 cup a day of legumes for three months. The other half followed a diet high in insoluble fiber in the form of whole wheat products for three months.

At the conclusion of the study, the researchers noted a reduction of -0.5% in a measure of glycemic control (HbA1C) in the legume group. In comparison, the high fiber group had a -0.3% reduction.

They also found that the legume group had reduced the risk of heart disease by 0.8%, primarily due to a reduction in systolic blood pressure. This reduction was greater in the legume group than in the high fiber group.

The researchers were based at the University of Toronto. Their findings were published in the October 2012 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

The glycemic index measures how quickly a food is likely to raise your blood sugar level. Eating more low glycemic index foods such as apples, muesli, broccoli and yogurt helps reduce the risk of diabetes and heart disease, and is key to sustainable weight loss.

If you want to add more legumes to your diet, try substituting them for meat once a week, as they're a great source of healthy protein. This study examined the effects of only one cup per day, so increasing your consumption levels even a little bit could be beneficial to your health.

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