Protein-packed and rich in fibre, researchers have found another reason to eat lentils

They’re high in fibre, full of complex carbohydrates and 25 per cent protein. As a pantry staple, they’re inexpensive and versatile. And new research out of the University of Guelph has found yet another compelling reason to eat lentils: they can significantly lower blood sugar levels.

In a study published in the Journal of Nutrition, researchers discovered that making a simple swap in familiar starchy side dishes could have profound effects. Substituting half a serving of rice with lentils resulted in a 20 per cent drop in blood glucose, while the same substitution with potatoes showed a 35 per cent decrease.

“Pulses are extremely nutrient-dense food that have the potential to reduce chronic diseases associated with mismanaged glucose levels,” said Prof. Alison Duncan of the Department of Human Health and Nutritional Sciences, explaining that they can decelerate digestion and help stabilize sugars in the bloodstream.

“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.”

The study looked at the blood glucose readings of 24 healthy adults after eating 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 took blood glucose readings before the participants ate, and then again two hours afterwards. They then repeated the process with white potatoes, using the same combination of lentils as with the rice.

The legumes were mixed in with the starches to better reflect how people tend to eat them, the researchers said, and the results were similar for each of the three types of lentils.

“Canada has a huge production of lentils, but we export most of it and only 13 per cent of Canadians eat them on any given day,” Duncan said. “We are hoping this research will make people more aware of the health benefits of eating pulses.”

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Source:: Nationalpost

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