Replacing potatoes or rice with pulses can lower your blood glucose levels by more than 20 per cent, according to a new study by the University of Guelph in Canada.
The researchers found that swapping out half of a portion of these starchy side dishes for lentils can significantly improve your body’s response to the carbohydrates.
Replacing half a serving of rice with lentils caused blood glucose to drop by up to 20 per cent. Replacing potatoes with lentils led to a 35 per cent drop.
Alison Duncan, the study’s lead author, said: ‘Pulses are extremely nutrient-dense food that have the potential to reduce chronic diseases associated with mismanaged glucose levels. We are hoping this research will make people more aware of the health benefits of eating pulses.’
The study, which has been published in the Journal of Nutrition, involved 24 healthy adults given 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.
Pulses, such as lentils, can slow digestion and the release of sugars found in starch into the bloodstream, ultimately reducing blood glucose levels.
Duncan said: ‘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.’