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Regular legume consumption could help reduce diabetes risk

By Ray Zisong Yu | April 2, 2017

Eating lentils and other legumes regularly may help prevent type 2 diabetes, according to a recent study by scientists at Rovira i Virgili University, Spain.

The study found that among over 3,000 senior citizens from Mediterranean countries, those who have more legumes in their diet are less likely to develop diabetes. Also, the combination of having more legumes and less food high in protein and carbohydrates — such as eggs, white or wholemeal bread, rice, and baked potatoes — helps to significantly reduce the chance of developing diabetes.

According to the researchers, legumes can work on many levels to prevent diabetes. They are rich in antioxidant and anti-inflammatory elements as well as nutrients like calcium, potassium and magnetics, which have been proven to reduce diabetes risks. Legumes also contain a lot of fibre, which makes you feel full and eat less, thus helping the body to better metabolise blood sugar, a key factor in the development of diabetes. Additionally, legumes can help the pancreas to better regulate the release of insulin, a hormone that helps the body to process sugar.

Among all types of legumes, lentils seem the most effective in preventing diabetes, which the researchers speculate may be because cooked lentils have the highest amount of flavonoids — plant chemicals that prevent inflammation and boost the immune system.

However, the study found that chickpeas, another popular legume in Mediterranean cuisine, only offer very little benefit in terms of preventing diabetes, but that should not prevent anybody from enjoying hummus or a delicious Mediterranean chickpea salad.

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