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Add Pulses to Your Diet to Control Glucose Levels

Add Pulses to Your Diet to Control Glucose Levels

Eating pulses, such as beans and lentils, can improve your glucose levels and cardiovascular health.

In traditional Chinese medicine, there are four types of pulses—floating, sinking, slow and fast—that practitioners use to evaluate your health. In our diets (from the East to the West), there are four basic kinds of pulses: dried peas, beans, chickpeas and lentils. (There are 11 kinds grown worldwide.) These pulses are part of the legume family and when added to the diet can go a long way to help stabilize your glucose levels.

Our neighbor to the north, Canada, grows over half of the world’s lentils, so it’s not surprising that a new study from the University of Guelph, Ontario, found that replacing rice and potatoes with lentils can help reduce out-of-control glucose levels. And you don’t even need to completely replace the rice and potatoes (just make ’em brown rice and baked potatoes).

The researchers found that when half of a meal’s available carbohydrates (rice and potatoes) were replaced with lentils, the relative glycemic response (what happens to your blood sugar level) to eating the remaining rice and potatoes was “lowered by 20 and 35 percent respectively.” Just think what replacing it all could do!

Unfortunately, only 13 percent of Canadians eat pulses daily and in the US it’s estimated only 8 percent of folks eat them every couple of days. But if you up your consumption, you’ll get great benefits: all pulses are a terrific source of plant protein, plus they help reduce lousy LDL cholesterol. That’s good news for your cardiovascular system and . . . your pulse!

Medically reviewed in October 2019.

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