Pulses not Potatoes
Recent research has found that swapping half your potatoes or white rice for pulses can lower your blood glucose levels by more than 20 per cent (1). There are many reasons why pulses such as lentils and chickpeas may be good for blood sugar control as well as many other aspects of health. Here are just a few of them:
- Pulses are high in fibre which is not digestible by humans but does provide food for our gut organisms. This can increase levels of short chain fatty acids that also help to reduce blood sugar levels.
- The fibre slows down the release of sugars from the carbohydrates in the meal. This means you don’t get a surge of glucose and a subsequent surge of insulin.
- Pulses are satiating. Their fibre content fills you up and keeps you satisfied for longer than fast releasing foods such as white rice and potatoes.
- Pulses contain useful amounts of protein. When combined with whole grains, nuts or seeds they make a complete protein such as that found in meat and animal products.
- Pulses contain many antioxidants and phytochemicals. Eating a range of pulses will increase the range of antioxidants you eat. Antioxidants are needed by the immune system to repair the body, protect you from disease and reduce the symptoms of ageing.
Some examples of pulses and how to use them include:
- Red split lentils – use in dahls or soups.
- Red kidney beans – work well in chillies and salads
- Chickpeas – one of the key ingredients of traditionally made hummous as well as chickpea curry (chaana dahl).
- Haricot beans – a small white bean used to make baked beans.
- Cannellini beans and butter beans – both of these are white beans that can be used in soups and stews and pureed into dips.
- Pinto beans – traditionally used to make refried beans to serve with Mexican dishes.
- Puy lentils – small dark green lentils that work well in salads, or added to stews.
There are many more and all are versatile and often interchangeable in recipes. And don’t forget that all whole pulses can be soaked and sprouted. Mung beans and green lentils work particularly well.
- 1. Moravek D, Duncan AM, et al. Carbohydrate Replacement of Rice or Potato with Lentils Reduces the Postprandial Glycemic Response in Healthy Adults in an Acute, Randomized, Crossover Trial. The Journal of Nutrition, 2018; 148 (4): 535