I’ve never been a fan of outrightly “banning” certain foods.
And by foods I, of course, mean real, whole foods. Not the super processed and manufactured products that make up much of the Western diet.
(Let’s face it, once we monkey with them that much, all bets are off.)
I believe there’s a place in a healthy diet for all natural foods including vegetables, fruits and nuts, and animal foods such as eggs, meat, fish and poultry.
But at the same time, it makes sense to practice moderation. Especially when it comes to foods that can trigger inflammation or spike our blood sugar.
That’s why I’m constantly encouraging folks to not overdo when potatoes or rice are on the menu. And I suggest exchanging the white potatoes for purple or sweet. Plus swapping out the white rice for black or brown, when possible.
That advice goes double for anyone who is battling blood sugar problems.
And now researchers from the University of Guelph have uncovered a delicious diet hack to slash post meal blood sugar levels by up to 35 percent, effortlessly.
The key is pulses. And I’m not talking about the throb your arteries make when blood pumps through them. But rather the edible seeds of plants in the legume family.
And more specifically, lentils.
Lentils help eliminate blood sugar spikes
For the new study, the researchers fed healthy adult volunteers four different dishes…
- white rice alone
- half white rice and half large green lentils
- half white rice and half small green lentils
- half white rice and half split red lentils
Blood sugar levels were checked before eating the dishes and during the two hours after eating them. And then the same process was repeated, exchanging the white rice for white potatoes.
When the researchers replaced half of the rice with any of the three lentils, blood sugars dropped by up to 20 percent. And when half of the potatoes were replaced with lentils, blood sugars plummeted by 35 percent.
Experts say we owe those better blood sugars to the lentils ability to slow digestion and the release of the sugars in the starches into the bloodstream. The slower absorption means you can eliminate those massive post meal blood sugar spikes.
In other words, lentils could help reduce your risk for type 2 diabetes. Or, if you’re already diabetic, help you manage your blood sugar levels.
Lentils aren’t the only blood sugar friendly pulses
And although the study focused on lentils the other pulses—chickpeas, beans and peas—can help reduce post meal sugar spikes too.
The chickpea or garbanzo bean is an unsung kitchen hero. This versatile pulse is as at home in a crisp and cold green salad as a hot and fiery curry. And when you replace the white potatoes in your recipe with chickpeas, you’ll be dropping from around 100 on the glycemic index down to around 10.
We all crave some starchy comfort foods from time to time. When that hankering hits skip the white potatoes and reach for some beans instead.
They’re high in fiber and protein, and they pack in around DOUBLE the blood-sugar balancing potassium of the potatoes. Plus they’re significantly lower on the glycemic index. In fact, depending on the type of bean 50 percent lower or more.
Many folks forget that peas are a pulse too. And their sweet flavor may cause you to avoid them if you’re concerned about your blood sugar. But the truth is peas, like their other pulse siblings, can help you manage your glucose levels. High in fiber and protein, studies show they help slow digestion and reduce sugar spikes.
Not sure how to fix your pulses? Visit pulses.org for some delicious recipes to get you started.