Eating more legumes (such as beans, chickpeas or lentils) as part of a low-glycemic index diet appears to improve glycemic control and reduce estimated coronary heart disease (CHD) risk in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus (DM), according to a report of a randomized controlled trial published online in the Archives of Internal Medicine.
Low glycemic index (GI) foods have been associated with improvement in glycemic control in patients with type 2 DM and have been recommended in many national DM guidelines.
Researchers from Toronto, Canada conducted a randomized controlled trial of 121 patients with type 2 DM to test the effect of eating more legumes on glycemic control, blood lipid levels and blood pressure.
Patients were randomized to either a low-GI legume diet that encouraged them to increase legumes intake by at least one cup a day or to increase insoluble fiber by eating whole wheat products for three months. Changes in hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) values were the primary outcome measure and calculated CHD risk score was the secondary outcome.
HbA1c is a test that shows the average level of blood sugar over the past 2 to 3 months. People with diabetes need to have this test done regularly to see whether their blood sugar levels have been staying within a target range. This test is also used to diagnose diabetes.
Legume consumption of approximately 1 cup per day enhanced a low-GI diet and reduced CHD risk through a reduction in blood pressure.
The low-GI legume diet reduced HbA1c values by -0.5 percent and the high wheat fiber diet reduced HbA1c values by -0.3 percent. The respective CHD risk reduction on the low-GI legume diet was -0.8 percent, largely because of a greater relative reduction in blood pressure on the low-GI legume diet compared with the high wheat fiber diet.
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