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Research shows pulses can help stabilize blood sugar

An Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada study is examining the effects of eating pulses on blood glucose response


Eating pulses as part of a balanced diet can help reduce blood glucose levels, according to an Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) study examining the effects of pulses on blood glucose response.

Dr. Dan Ramdath

Dr. Dan Ramdath

A research team led by Dan Ramdath, a nutrition research scientist with AAFC’s Guelph Research and Development Centre, is studying how eating a meal in which half a serving of starchy foods is replaced with pulses (which include dry beans, peas, lentils, and chickpeas) can result in a significant reduction in blood glucose response, as well as other health benefits.

“The study aims to provide evidence for the replacement of starchy food in the diet with pulses,” explains Ramdath.

The researchers’ initial findings suggest that people with diabetes, or those who are at risk for diabetes, can help manage their blood glucose with regular consumption of pulses in lieu of other starch-containing foods.

Blood glucose is the level of sugar found in the blood during digestion in the upper digestive tract. According to Ramdath, unique characteristics of the starch in pulses can slow digestion and the release of sugars into the bloodstream, which contributes to their blood glucose-lowering effect.

In the first phase of the study (jointly funded by AAFC and Pulse Canada), in-lab and human feeding trials are being conducted to compare the blood sugar levels of volunteers after they have eaten a 50-gram serving of starch-containing foods, such as rice or potato, with their blood sugar levels after eating another standardized 50-gram meal in which half of the starch serving is replaced with lentils or yellow peas. In the second phase of the study, the team plans to develop foods such as soups, muffins, and casseroles from lentils and yellow peas. Blood sugar readings after consumption of these foods will be compared with similar foods made from rice, wheat or potato.

Results of the study are expected to be available March 2018.


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