Starting in 2010, researchers in Toronto, Canada, enrolled 121 patients with Type II diabetes and tested their blood sugar, blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and more. Roughly half of the study participants were randomly selected to add a cup of legumes per day to their diet. The other half were told to try to eat more whole-wheat products.
After three months, the patients were tested again on the same measures. Both the legume-eaters and the whole-wheat-eaters saw a reduction in their hemoglobin A1c values — a marker of average blood sugar, for a period of several weeks. But that reduction was slightly larger among the legume group than among the whole-what group: 0.5% compared to 0.3%. And while those changes may seem small, the study authors say that drops of this magnitude are “therapeutically meaningful,” and can lead to fewer diabetic symptoms as well as lower doses of medication to control blood sugar levels. The legume-eaters also achieved modest reductions in body weight relative to the wheat group, losing an average of 5.9 lbs compared to 4.4 lbs, as well as drops in total cholesterol and blood pressure.
In 2002, a large government trial found that overweight people on the verge of developing diabetes could dramatically lower their risk of the disease by changing their diet and exercising more. And in 2008, David Jenkins, one of the current study’s lead authors, published similar results that demonstrated the strong benefits of a diet high in vegetables, fruit, nuts, flaxseed, and, yes, legumes.
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