Type 2 diabetes is a growing health concern among individuals in the US and all around the world. It has been estimated that it has affected around 29 million people in the US and more than 400 million people across the globe. But according to a recent study high intake of legumes may lower the risk of developing the disease by 35%.
Legumes basically consists of plants like alfalfa, chickpeas, lentils, peas, peanuts, and many other types of beans. They contain high levels of vitamin B that helps body restore energy and boost metabolism.
Also, they are known as “low glycemic index food”, as their intake slows down the blood sugar levels.
Moreover, legumes are rich in fiber and contain minerals like calcium, magnesium, and potassium. They consists of a variety of phytochemicals, bioactive compounds that speed up the body’s metabolism, hence protecting against diabetes and heart disease.
To aware people of the health benefits of legumes Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations declared the year 2016 as the International Year of Pulses (pulses being a subgroup of legumes).
To further prove the connection between legumes and type 2 diabetes, researchers from the Unit of Human Nutrition at the Universitat Rovira i Virgili in Tarragona, Spain and investigators from the Prevención con Dieta Mediterránea (PREDIMED) study carried out an experiment on people with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Also, the effect of substituting legumes with foods containing high levels of carbohydrates and proteins was studied.
A total of 3,349 individuals who did not have type 2 diabetes initially were selected for the experiment. Information regarding their diets was collected at the beginning with a follow up every year throughout the 4.3 years of study.
There was one group of people with low legumes intake, around 1.5 weekly servings of 60 grams of raw legumes or 12.73 grams per day. The other group with high legumes intake, too around 3.35 weekly servings or 28.75 grams per day.
By the end of study 266 people had developed type 2 diabetes.
Thus the study concluded that a frequent consumption of legumes, particularly lentils, in the context of a Mediterranean diet, may provide benefits on type 2 diabetes prevention in older adults at high cardiovascular risk.
Also, researchers found out substituting half a serving per day of legumes with an equivalent portion of carbohydrate and protein foods reduces the risk of the disease.