London- A new Spanish study carried out by Universitat Rovira i Virgili shows a protective association between total legumes consumption, especially lentils, and the risk of developing subsequent type 2 diabetes after more than 4 years of follow-up of 3,349 participants at high cardiovascular risk.
Moreover, the study shows that replacing a half a serving/day of eggs, bread, rice or baked potato with a half a serving/day of legumes was also associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes.
Researchers analyzed 3,349 participants at high risk of cardiovascular disease but without type 2 diabetes at the beginning of the study. After 4 years of follow-up, the results have revealed that compared to individuals with a lower consumption of total legumes – lentils, chickpeas, beans and peas- (12.73 grams/day, approximately equivalent to 1.5 servings per week of 60g of raw legumes), individuals with a higher consumption (28.75 grams/day, equivalent to 3,35 servings/week) had a 35 percent lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Legumes are a food group rich in B vitamins, contain different beneficial minerals (calcium, potassium and magnesium) and sizeable amounts of fiber and are regarded as a low-glycemic index food, which means that blood glucose levels increase only slowly after consumption.
The researchers highlight the importance of consuming legumes to prevent chronic diseases such as diabetes, but state that further research must be conducted in other populations to confirm these results.
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) declared 2016 as the international year of legumes to raise people’s awareness of their nutritional benefits.