Eating beans helps to manage diabetes

A cup a day keeps the doctor away.

A cup of beans, that is. A recent study, published in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine, shows promise for those battling type 2 diabetes--they just need to load up on legumes.

Researchers found that about 190 grams of beans, peas or lentils per day could significantly help lower blood pressure, which is important for diabetics.

Being diabetic is not the only reason to eat them. Some of the 121 patients in the study ate a low-glycemic index diet for three months, which included one cup more of legumes per day. The others ate a healthy diet rich in insoluble fiber. In the end, the blood glucose, blood fat and hemoglobin levels of all patients in the study improved. But the patients who ate the extra cup of legumes also saw improved levels of blood pressure.

Diabetes and blood pressure

Legumes have long been touted as a super food for diabetics, specifically because they help lower blood sugar levels. But the findings on blood pressure show promise in a new area. "We know from our previous research that foods low on the glycemic index scale are helpful in lowering blood glucose levels," said study researcher, Dr. David Jenkins, director of the St. Michael's Hospital's Risk Factor Modification Center.

"But this is the first study of its kind to specially look at legumes' effect on cardiovascular risk factors and find they also have a blood pressure lowering effect in diabetic patients."

Why are beans effective in lowering blood pressure?

The jury's still out. Researchers seem to be on the fence as to whether it's the fiber content of beans that promote heart health, the low glycemic index or a combination of both. Regardless, blood pressure management is important for diabetics because it can be a contributing factor in renal failure, Jenkins noted in a statement.

And while it may be appealing for diabetics to stock up on beans because they're cheap, filling and healthy, experts warn against overdoing it and recommend tailored, individualized eating plans for keeping blood sugar and heart health in good condition.

Source: The Huffington Post, US News Health

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