New Study Suggests
More Pulses, Less Pills
Researchers at the University of Toronto recently published clinical research on the positive benefits of pulse consumption. Consistent consumption was shown to have a positive impact on diabetes, while simultaneously reducing the risk cardiovascular disease.
This study, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine (2012;172(21):1620. doi:10.1001/archinternmed.2011.1002), provides data that will allow health professionals to recommend a specific quantity of legumes (1 cup daily) as part of a low glycemic index diet for blood sugar control while also understanding their effect on cardiovascular disease risk.
The study tested the effect of increased legume consumption, composed of a diet targeted for patients with diabetes, on glycemic control, blood lipid levels and blood pressure. 121 participants with type 2 diabetes mellitus were put on one of two diets for 3 months; a low GI legume diet consisting of one cup of cooked beans, chickpeas and lentils, or a high wheat fiber diet consisting of whole wheat and whole grain foods such as whole wheat breakfast cereals, breads and brown rice.
The outcomes were positive. Subjects on the low GI legume diet exhibited greater blood glucose lowering results (HbA1c = -0.5%) than those on a whole wheat fibre diet (-0.3%). Coronary heart disease risk reduction for those on a low GI legume diet was -0.8%, which can be attributed to the relative reduction in blood pressure (systolic -4.5 mm Hg, diastolic -3.1 mm Hg). Although subjects on the high wheat fibre diet saw similar reductions in CHD risk, no change in blood pressure was observed.
Legumes are good sources of fibre and protein and have been recognized for their blood cholesterol lowering effects and for their low glycemic index values lending themselves to be included in the list of nutritive foods recommended in many national diabetes guidelines. What will these results mean to the medical community? Doctors can now promote specific consumption levels to target glycemic control as well as improved cardiovascular improvement in the short term, resulting in a reduced need for patients to take antihyperglycemic or lipid lowering medication.
The study was funded by Agriculture Agri-Food Canada and by the Saskatchewan Pulse Growers Association.