A hill of beans

Beans, beans, the magical fruit, the more you eat… the lower your blood sugar. At least, according to one new bit of research.

This study tracked 121 participants for three months. One group followed a low-GI “legume diet,” which encouraged greater legume consumption. The other group increased insoluble fiber intake by eating more whole grains.

After assessing the impact that these dietary changes had on glycemic control markers like HbA1c, researchers came to one simple conclusion. Increasing legume intake by at least one cup every day can improve blood sugar control and lower risk of heart disease.

These results appeared in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Personally, I’d like to see what would happen if, instead of increasing intake of legumes or whole grains, these same participants decreased their intake of both–in favor of more protein, healthy fats, and fiber-rich fresh veggies.

Scratch that. I’m pretty sure I know what would happen. And let’s just say that this study’s conclusion would likely be very different.

Listen, I’m not knocking whole grains or legumes. (At least, not too hard.) In fact, complex carbohydrates from legumes–like beans, chickpeas, and lentils–are one of the few types that are actually beneficial. And they definitely have a place in any healthy eating plan.

But moderation is key. And if you’re trying to beat diabetes, filling up on any type of starchy carbohydrate on a daily basis is a bad idea. Period.

Yes, nutrient-rich beans are much better for you than refined, simple carbs. But that doesn’t mean you should build your diet around them.

And no, you probably shouldn’t eat them at every meal.

“Effect of Legumes as Part of a Low Glycemic Index Diet on Glycemic Control and Cardiovascular Risk Factors in Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus: A Randomized Controlled Trial” Arch Intern Med. 2012;172(21):1653-1660. doi:10.1001/2013.jamainternmed.70.