In patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus, legumes such as beans, chickpeas or lentils improve blood sugar control and reduce coronary artery disease (CHD) risk, say researchers.
David J.A. Jenkins, M.D., of the University of Toronto and St. Michael's Hospital, Toronto, Canada, and colleagues conducted a randomized controlled trial of 121 patients with type 2 DM to test the effect of eating more legumes on glycemic control, serum (blood) lipid levels and blood pressure (BP).
Patients were randomized to either a low-GI legume diet that encouraged patients to increase eating legumes by at least one cup a day or to increase insoluble fiber by eating whole wheat products for three months.
"People with diabetes did better in terms of blood sugar control on the bean diet versus a diet without beans, which was otherwise extremely healthy," says researcher David J.A. Jenkins, MD, PhD, DSc, professor of medicine and nutrition at the University of Toronto and St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto.
The bean diet lowered the predicted risk of heart disease more, too, Jenkins says. And it did so in a way that surprised him, he says. "It reduced heart disease risk predominantly because of its effect on blood pressure," he said.
"In conclusion, legume consumption of approximately 190 g per day (1 cup) seems to contribute usefully to a low-GI diet and reduce CHD risk through a reduction in BP," the authors note.
The study has been published online in the Archives of Internal Medicine.