Using Lentils to Help Manage Type 2 Diabetes

Gloria Tsang newNovember is Diabetes Month in Canada, and November 14 is World Diabetes Day. That means it’s a great time to talk about how a diet rich in legumes – including lentils – can help regulate blood sugar and improve glycemic control, both important factors in managing type 2 diabetes.

It’s been known for some time that both high-fibre foods and legumes are important components of a diabetes diet because of their low glycemic index (GI) – a measurement of a food’s impact on blood sugar. Most diabetics have probably already been told to eat more whole grains and legumes. But until recently, there was little hard evidence of the actual impact of these dietary changes on the long-term management of diabetes.

University of Toronto researchers decided to find out exactly how much high-fibre and high-legume diets could benefit those with type 2 diabetes. They divided a group of 121 type 2 diabetes patients and had half of them add a cup of legumes to their diet each day, while the other half consumed whole-wheat foods.

Researchers measured the impact on blood sugar and blood pressure. Their results, published online in October by the scientific journal Archives of Internal Medicine, showed that HbA1c (hemoglobin A1c), a measure of blood sugar, was reduced for both groups, with the high-legume group seeing a larger drop. The high-legume group also saw a much larger drop in blood pressure than the high-fibre group, indicating that a high-legume diet may also help type 2 diabetes patients ward off heart disease.

The great news here is that it’s incredibly easy to incorporate more legumes into your diet. Lentils are much easier to prepare than beans because they require no pre-soaking, and they work well in many different kinds of dishes.

7 Easy Ways to Add Lentils to Your Everyday Cooking

  1. Add a hearty element by adding wholesome lentils to any brothy soup.
  2. Prepare a delicate veggie dip by pureeing lentils, seasoned with citrus and nut butter.
  3. Add nutrition punch by mixing lentils into your salad.
  4. Enhance texture by adding lentils to your Asian stir-fries.
  5. Add lentils to fillings for tacos or quesadillas.
  6. Add color to your pot of curry or stew by adding red lentils.
  7. Add lentil puree to your baking.