Legumes can reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes, a new study says. Scientists say by eating lentils, chickpeas, beans and peas, you can slash your danger of developing the disease by 35 percent. Although the produce has long been thought to offer protection against type 2 diabetes, this is the first study to confirm the association.
- Eating legumes daily can cut down on your risk of type 2 diabetes by 35 percent
- And just having one serving per week can cut the risk by 33 percent
- Legumes are considered a low-glycemic index food, meaning blood glucose levels increase only slowly after consumption
What Does Research Show?
Researchers from the Universitat Rovrira Virgli's Human Nutrition Unit, in Tarragona, Spain, looked at results from the PREDIMED study (Primary Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease with a Mediterranean Diet).
They focused on non-soy legumes, such as beans, peas, and some seeds, and evaluated the effect of replacing other protein- and carbohydrate-rich foods with legumes on the development of the disease.
The team analyzed over 3,300 participants at high risk of cardiovascular disease, but without type 2 diabetes, at the beginning of the PREDIMED study.
After four years of follow-up, the results revealed that, compared to individuals with a lower consumption of total legumes, individuals with a higher consumption had a 35 percent lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Lower consumption was measured to be 1.5 servings per week and higher consumption was 3.35 servings per week.
Additionally, participants who had about one serving per week, compared to those who had about half a serving per week, had a 33 percent lower risk of developing the disease.
- Legumes are a food group rich in B vitamins with many beneficial minerals such as calcium, magnesium and potassium.
- They have sizeable amounts of fiber and are regarded as a low-glycemic index food, which means that blood glucose levels increase only slowly after consumption.
- Due to these unique nutritional qualities, eating legumes regularly can help improve human health, the researchers say. In fact, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations declared 2016 as the international year of legumes to raise people's awareness of their nutritional benefits.
Researchers also found that replacing half a serving per day of foods rich in protein or carbohydrates, including eggs, bread, rice and baked potato, for half a serving per day of legumes was also associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes incidence.
Despite the importance of consuming legumes to prevent chronic diseases such as diabetes, the team says further research needs to be conducted in other populations to confirm these results.
A December 2016 review from Imperial College London claimed a handful of nuts a day can slash your risk of heart disease and cancer.
Peanuts – technically a legume – are so healthy that the researchers suggest even peanut butter could help us live longer, although the sugar and salt it contains may cancel out some benefits.
An analysis of 20 studies found people who ate a daily ounce of nuts slashed their risk of coronary heart disease by almost a third and their cancer risk by 15 percent.
The findings suggest they may also prevent people dying from respiratory disease and diabetes, although there is less evidence.