The lentil is an edible pulse, commonly consumed in South Asia. Lentils contain low levels of readily digestible starch (5%) and high levels of slowly digested starch, this composition makes lentils a good choice to people with diabetes. The scientists of University of Guelph have just proved such an effect for the first time through the study, that replacing potatoes or rice with pulses can lower your blood glucose levels by more than 20 percent.
Prof. Alison Duncan, Department of Human Health and Nutritional Sciences, and Dan Ramdath of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, found that swapping out half of a portion of these starchy side dishes(rice, potatoes) for lentils can significantly improve your body’s response to the carbohydrates.
As the study shows, by replacing half a serving of rice with lentils it caused blood glucose to drop by up to 20 percent. By replacing potatoes with lentils it led to a 35 percent drop.
“Pulses are extremely nutrient-dense food that have the potential to reduce chronic diseases associated with mismanaged glucose levels,” said one of the researchers.
Published and specially featured in the Journal of Nutrition, the study involved 24 healthy adults 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 during two hours afterward. They repeated the process for white potatoes alone and the same combinations of potatoes and lentils.
Blood glucose fell by similar amounts when half of the starch was replaced with each of the three types of lentils.
Since pulses contain high levels of slowly digested starch, it slows down the absorption so that people don’t experience a spike in glucose. The spike of glucose 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.
Pulses contain components that inhibit enzymes involved in absorption of glucose, and fiber that can encourage the production of short-chain fatty acids, which can also help to reduce blood glucose levels.
Lowering 20 percent of blood glucose is an ideal effect for many Americans. For diabetic and pre-diabetic people, it’s worth trying to add pulses as your side dishes.