A higher consumption of legumes — such as lentils, chickpeas, beans and peas — has the potential to lower the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes by 35 per cent, researchers say.
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Legumes are a food group rich in B vitamins, contain different beneficial minerals — like calcium, potassium and magnesium.
The findings showed that among the different subtypes of legume, participants who had a higher consumption of lentils — one serving per week — had a 33 per cent lower risk of developing the disease.
Legumes also contain sizeable amounts of fibre and are regarded as a low-glycemic index food, which means that blood glucose levels increase only slowly after consumption.
The effect of replacing half a serving per day of foods rich in protein or carbohydrates, including eggs, bread, rice and baked potato, with half a serving per day of legumes was also associated with a lower risk of Type 2 diabetes, said Nerea Becerra-Tomas, researcher at the Universitat Rovira i Virgili in Spain.
Due to these unique nutritional qualities, eating legumes regularly can help improve human health. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) had declared 2016 as the international year of legumes to raise people’s awareness of their nutritional benefits.
Type 2 diabetes is a chronic condition that affects the way the body processes blood sugar (glucose) and affected more than 400 million adults in 2015 worldwide.
For the study, published in the scientific journal Clinical Nutrition, the team examined 3,349 participants at high risk of cardiovascular disease but without Type 2 diabetes.