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Swap starches for lentils

Replacing carbohydrates such as potatoes and rice in your diet with lentils can lower your blood glucose levels by more than 20 percent.

Researchers at the University of Guelph in Canada found that swapping starchy side dishes with lentils significantly improved the body’s response to carbohydrates.

“Lentils are extremely nutrient-dense food that have the potential to reduce chronic diseases associated with mismanaged glucose levels,” said researcher Alison Duncan who worked on the study. Replacing half a serving of rice with lentils caused blood glucose to drop by up to 20 percent. Replacing potatoes with lentils led to a 35 percent decline.

The study involved 24 healthy adults fed four dishes — white rice only, half white rice and half large green lentils, half white rice and half small green lentils, and half white rice and half split red lentils. Duncan and her team measured glucose levels in the participants’ blood before they ate and during two hours afterward. The process was repeated for white potatoes alone and the same combinations of potatoes and lentils. “We mixed the lentils in with the potatoes and rice because people don’t typically eat pulses on their own, but rather consume them in combination with other starches as part of a larger meal, so we wanted the results to reflect that,” said Duncan.

She further explained that pulses, such as lentils, can slow digestion and the release of sugars found in starch into the bloodstream, ultimately reducing blood glucose levels.

“This slower absorption means you don’t experience a spike in glucose. Having high levels over a period of time can lead to mismanagement of blood glucose, which is the hallmark of Type 2 diabetes. Essentially, eating lentils can lower that risk.”

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