|Beans, peas, chickpeas and lentils can significantly reduce blood pressure, blood glucose levels and cardiovascular disease risks for patients with Type 2 diabetes, St. Michael's Hospital researchers say. |
TORONTO -- "More beans, please."
That slogan -- featuring children and athletic adults promoting Libby's deep brown beans in a 1986 TV ad -- took on new significance Monday with release of research promoting legumes as lifesavers.
Beans, peas, chickpeas and lentils can significantly reduce blood pressure, blood glucose levels and cardiovascular disease risks for patients with Type 2 diabetes, St. Michael's Hospital announced Monday.
"We know from our previous research that foods low on the glycemic index scale are helpful in lowering blood glucose levels," stated Dr. David Jenkins, director of the hospital's Risk Factor Modification Centre.
Diabetics must control blood glucose levels to avoid long-term conditions including heart and kidney disease plus nerve damage.
"Nearly everyone knows somebody with diabetes," he said.
And it's on the rise -- significantly in some countries where residents "are walking away from beans," such as in Latin America and India's urban centres, Jenkins said.
The study was based on research involving 121 Type 2 diabetics, half given a healthy diet including more insoluble fibre such as whole wheat grains, the others a low-glycemic index diet requiring one daily cup of legumes.
By measuring available carbohydrates minus fibre, the glycemic index that Jenkins founded gauges how quickly blood sugar levels increase after meals.
He said white bread and sweet treats cause sharp rises in blood sugar levels, while foods including legumes, pastas, apples and berries have less affect.
High blood pressure is a big contributor to renal failure in diabetics, "so if you can control both their blood pressure and glucose levels together, you have a very powerful treatment advantage," Jenkins said.
Risk Factor Modification Centre research assistant Arash Mirrahimi also determined people -- especially women -- eating food high on the glycemic index scale are 14% more likely to suffer an acute heart attack or die from coronary heart disease than those eating foods low on the index.
Numerous medical and dietician groups have promoted legumes for health benefits including as a meat alternative. A previous report by the centre, published in Diabetologia, estimated 3 million Canadians have diabetes and those with pre-diabetes symptoms -- higher blood sugar levels after eight-to 12-hour fasts -- were rising.
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