Why are legumes a healthy food choice for people with diabetes?

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Janis Jibrin, MS, RD
Nutrition & Dietetics
Legumes are beans, such as black beans and lentils, which come dried or canned. Legumes have a very low glycemic index (GI), probably because of their fiber and because they contain resistant starch. As with grains, the more intact the bean, the lower the GI. So a side dish of whole, cooked black beans would have a lower GI than a puréed black bean dip, which would have a much lower GI than bean flour.

Legumes are rich in B vitamins and in minerals associated with improved diabetes management: calcium, magnesium, and zinc. They've been shown to lower low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol; this might be their soluble fiber at work (beans have a mix of soluble and insoluble fiber).

All legumes -- black, kidney, pinto, white, cannelloni, garbanzo, adzuki, lentils, soy, pink -- are supernutritious, so pick your favorites! Save some money by cooking them from scratch (lentils have the shortest cooking time). If you buy them canned, look for those with no salt added (EdenFoods has a wide variety) or with no more than 120 mg sodium per half cup, such as Goya low-sodium. You'll find edamame in the frozen food section, both with the shell (which you don't eat) or shelled. Toss them into salads and stir fries or serve marinated as a side dish.
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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.