Diabetes: 6 ways pulses can help prevent blood sugar spikes
Ahead of World Pulses Day (February 10), a nutritionist on why this wholesome food group can be super-beneficial for people with diabetes.
Pulses are one of the best foods you can include in your daily meals to maintain overall health. A storehouse of protein, a good source of fibre and a healthy way to get your carbs, there cannot be a better nutritious food, especially for vegetarians. Pulses are a superfood for people with diabetes too. Studies over the years have shown how pulse consumption can lead to better glycaemic control, reduction of blood lipids and regulation of body weight, which is vital for diabetes management. Eating pulses regularly can thus lead to better control in blood sugar levels. Ahead of World Pulses Day (February 10), a nutritionist on why this wholesome food group can be super-beneficial for people with diabetes. (Also read: Vitamin D supplements linked with lower diabetes risk: Study)
"When it comes to healthy, wholesome foods, one food group comes above most others. This food group is ticking almost all the boxes for the typical urban individual who spends most of the day sitting in front of a screen and typically has some degree of insulin resistance. Pulses are synonymous with Indian cuisine, they are perfect for our current health requirements and are an environment-friendly protein source," says Khushboo Jain Tibrewala, Founder of The Health Pantry, Nutritionist and Diabetes Educator.
Diabetes (type 2) is a problem of high body lipids and compromised carbohydrate metabolism. This means the solution is to reduce body fat and reduce support carbohydrate metabolism. Pulses are the one food group that can do this almost perfectly.
Health benefits of pulses for people with diabetes
Tibrewala shares 6 reasons why switching to a legume-rich diet can help in better diabetes management.
1. They are nutrient-dense foods. They contain protein, fibre, complex carbohydrates, B vitamins, minerals and antioxidants
2. They are rich in dietary fibre. This slows down the post-meal glucose spike that most diabetics seem to be struggling with.
3. Boiled and cooled pulses are rich in "resistant starch". This is a low glycemic index source of starch that improves gut bacteria, which in turn improves insulin function.
4. They are protein-rich. 1 cup of dal will give you 12-15 grams of protein. For diabetics, maintaining a good muscle mass is essential, since this is directly related to insulin function. More protein coupled with daily activity leads to improved muscle mass.
5. There are multiple studies that have shown a reduction in HbA1c, Fasting Blood Glucose and Post Prandial Blood Glucose after regular consumption of legumes in Diabetics.
6. They come in different colours due to pigments called "Anthocyanins". These are antioxidants, that protect the body from myriad health disorders including cardiovascular disorders, long-term diabetes complications, cancers, etc.
Important tips to remember while eating legumes
- Legumes are difficult to digest. You must pre-soak them and cook them with salt and something sour like kokum or ACV.
- Always add foods like cumin seeds, ginger, hing, coriander leaves, etc to improve digestion.
- The starchier legumes like chickpeas and kidney beans should be boiled and cooled for 5-6 hours before consumption to reduce the glycaemic index.