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Eating lentils could lower blood sugar levels by 20%

Type 2 diabetes can be a 'devastating diagnosis' says expert

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Diabetes is a serious, life-changing condition that causes your blood sugar levels to become high. If these levels get too high it can be life-threatening, leading to complications such as a diabetic coma. Therefore, it is important for diabetics to keep their blood sugar low.

One way to achieve this is through diet, with certain foods able to raise or lower blood sugar.

Of course, foods high in sugar should be avoided by diabetics for obvious reasons.

Experts recommend eating plenty of fruit and vegetables, protein and starchy carbohydrates that have a low glycemic index (meaning they won’t raise your blood pressure) if you are diabetic or at risk of developing diabetes.

One specific food often championed for diabetics is lentils.

Lentils are a legume high in protein and fibre that are popular among vegans and vegetarians as a meat alternative.

A study, published in Nutrients journal in 2022, found that consuming 110 grams of lentils could lower blood sugar levels by 20 percent up to four hours after eating.

As part of the research, a team from the Guelph Research and Development Centre in Canada, analysed existing data from studies comparing blood sugar and lentil consumption.

The study said: “Lentil consumption, in particular, consistently lowers acute blood glucose and insulin response when compared to starchy control foods.

“The mechanism by which lentils lower postprandial blood glucose response (PBGR) and insulin levels is unclear; however, evidence suggests that this effect may be linked to macronutrients and/or the amount of lentils consumed.

“Collectively, these studies suggest that consumption of lentils reduces PBGR, with the minimum effective serving being 110g cooked to reduce PBGR by 20 percent.

“Reductions in PBGR show modest-to-strong correlations with protein and dietary fibre content, but has weaker correlations with available carbohydrates.

“Increased lentil serving sizes were found to moderately influence relative reductions in peak blood glucose concentrations and lower the area under the blood glucose curve.”

Researchers concluded that further studies were needed to draw “firm” conclusions.

However, they said: “Persons with type 2 diabetes have the greatest potential to benefit from this research as blood glucose and insulin control are central to the management of this condition.

“Overall, the studies examined for this review corroborate findings that lentil consumption provides beneficial effects on both blood glucose and insulin levels, although further investigation is required to fully understand how lentils and other pulses are contributing to this lowering effect.”

The benefits of lentils are recognised by Diabetes UK.

The charity listed seven reasons to eat pulses, which include lentils, as:

  • They have a low glycemic index
  • They count as one of your five-a-day
  • They are high in fibre
  • They are a source of protein
  • They are filling
  • They are low in fat
  • They are cheap.

Symptoms of diabetes can include:

  • Peeing more than usual, particularly at night
  • Feeling thirsty all the time
  • Feeling very tired
  • Losing weight without trying to
  • Itching around your genitals, or repeatedly getting thrush
  • Cuts or wounds taking longer to heal
  • Blurred vision.

A healthy fasting blood glucose level is considered 100 milligrams per decilitre (mg/dL).

Anything between 100 to 125 mg/dL is considered to be prediabetes, or 126 mg/dL and higher means the patient has diabetes.

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