Canadian Lentils: A Staple in a Diabetic Diet

Information from Gloria Tsang, RD, author of Go UnDiet: 50 Small Actions for Lasting Weight Loss and the founder of HealthCastle.com

The GI Chart

Source

Glycemic Index (GI) Values

Lentils, red split21
Lentils, green22
Kidney beans23
Chickpeas33
Oatmeal, rolled oats58
Bread, refined76
Rice, white89
Potato, skinless98

Source: International GI Database [Internet]. Sydney, Australia: The University of Sydney, Human Nutrition Unit, School of Molecular Biosciences. c2011 [updated 2011 December 1; cited 2012 March 26]. Available from: http://www.glycemicindex.com/index.php

The low GI values of lentils make them an ideal staple in a diabetes kitchen. In fact, numerous published studies have shown the benefits of a low-GI diet in diabetes management. In 2008, the Canadian Diabetes Association Guidelines recommend replacing high-GI carbohydrates with low-GI carbohydrates for better blood sugar control. In particular, a significant reduction in glycated hemoglobin (HgA1C), a blood marker indicating the average amount of sugar present in the blood in the last three months, was associated with a low-GI diet. Lentils, with their low GI values, are the perfect food to be eaten regularly in a diabetic diet!

Lentils and Blood Sugar Control

Pulse consumption has been associated with a reduction in developing Type 2 diabetes. Some studies have also shown that pulse intake may improve glucose tolerance. One of the reasons for such a benefit is that pulses lower postprandial (post-meal) glucose and insulin responses. This glucose-lowering benefit lasts quite a long time! One study found that lentils not only benefit the glucose response from the meal in which they are eaten, but also the subsequent meal eaten four hours later.

Lentils and Weight Loss

Obesity and overweight are risk factors for developing Type 2 diabetes. The 2011 Clinical Practice Recommendations from the American Diabetes Association recommend weight loss for all overweight and obese individuals who have diabetes or are at risk for diabetes.

Eaters of lentils and pulses generally weigh less! Data from the 1999–2002 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) showed that people who regularly ate pulses weighed less and had a 23% lowered risk of increased waist size and a 22% lowered risk of being obese.

Losing weight does not mean you have to go hungry! In a recent study, lentils were investigated for their effects on appetite, blood sugar, and satiety. When coupled with a high-GI meal, lentils were able to make participants feel full earlier, resulting in a decrease in overall food intake. What’s amazing is that lower blood sugar was also observed four hours after eating the lentil meal when compared to the control group. So for better weight control, regularly include lentils in your diet!

Lentils and Carbohydrate Counting

Some people may be using the carbohydrate-counting method to manage their blood sugar. Half a cup of cooked lentils is equivalent to one carbohydrate serving.

Lentils are truly Hidden HealthyTM superstars. Preparing lentils is as easy as 1-2-3: Just rinse, boil, and season. Unlike beans, lentils do not require soaking at all.

Check out our Super-Easy Guide to Cooking Canadian Lentils for more cooking tips.

References

Thomas D, Elliott EJ. Low glycaemic index, or low glycaemic load, diets for diabetes mellitus.
Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2009 Jan 21;(1):CD006296.
Thomas D, Elliott EJ. The use of low-glycaemic index diets in diabetes control. Br J Nutr. 2010 Sep;104(6):797-802. Epub 2010 Apr 27.
Papanikolaou Y, Fulgoni VL 3rd. Bean consumption is associated with greater nutrient intake, reduced systolic blood pressure, lower body weight, and a smaller waist circumference in adults: Results from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 1999-2002. J Am Coll Nutr. 2008 Oct;27(5):569-76.
Jenkins DJ, Wolever TM, Taylor RH, et al. Slow release dietary carbohydrate improves second meal tolerance. Am J Clin Nutr. 1982 Jun;35(6):1339-46.
Higgins JA. Whole grains, legumes, and the subsequent meal effect: implications for blood glucose control and the role of fermentation. J Nutr Metab. 2012;2012:829238. Epub 2011 Oct 30.
Mollard RC, Zykus A, Luhovy

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