Type 2 diabetes occurs when a person’s pancreas cannot produce or doesn’t produce enough insulin to control blood sugar levels. Consistently high blood sugar levels is a precursor to deadly complications such heart disease or stroke. As a result, people with type 2 diabetes must turn to their diet to regulate blood sugar levels. Increasing evidence suggests chickpeas may help.

Chickpeas are a culinary ingredient long used in Mediterranean, Middle Eastern and Indian cookery. The legume has been been touted for its myriad health benefits, which include lowering blood sugar levels.

One of the primary benefits of eating chickpeas is that they have a relatively low glycemic index (GI). As Diabetes UK explained: “Different carbohydrates are digested and absorbed at different rates, and GI is a ranking of how quickly each carbohydrate-based food and drink makes blood glucose levels rise after eating them.”

Research has shown that choosing foods with a low GI index, such as chickpeas, can particularly help manage long-term blood sugar levels in people with Type 2 diabetes.

Second, chickpeas are a good source of fibre and protein, which are both known for their role in blood sugar regulation.

As Mayo Clinic explains, fibre can slow the absorption of sugar and help improve blood sugar levels. Equally, protein is broken down into glucose less efficiently than carbohydrate, which slows down the rise in blood sugar levels.

In one study, 19 people who ate a meal that contained 200 grams of chickpeas had a 21 percent reduction in blood sugar levels, compared to when they ate a meal that contained whole-grain cereal or white bread.

Furthermore, a 12-week study found that 45 individuals who ate 728 grams of chickpeas per week had a notable reduction in their fasting insulin levels, which is an important factor in blood sugar control.

Key dietary tips

A person should not focus solely on the GI of foods, however.

As the health body explains, this could make a person’s diet unbalanced; high in fat and calories, which could lead to weight gain. This makes managing blood sugar levels harder and hikes the risk of heart disease.

“It’s important to think about the balance of your meals, which should be low in saturated fat, salt and sugar and contain more fruit and vegetables, wholegrains, pulses, nuts and oily fish,” it advised.

According to Diabetes UK, people should include the following blood-sugar friendly options in their everyday meals:

  • Choose basmati or easy cook rice, pasta or noodles. Or, try plantain, quinoa or bulgur wheat for a change.
  • Eat wholemeal roti and include dhal in your meals.
  • Use new potatoes instead of old potatoes – try sweet potatoes for a change.
  • Instead of white and wholemeal bread, choose granary, pumpernickel or rye bread.
  • Swap frozen chips for pasta or noodles.
  • Try porridge, natural muesli or wholegrain breakfast cereals.

What are the symptoms of type 2 diabetes?

According to the NHS, symptoms of type 2 diabetes include:

  • Urinating more than usual, particularly at night
  • Feeling thirsty all the time
  • Feeling very tired
  • Losing weight without trying to
  • Itching around a person’s penis or vagina, or repeatedly getting thrush
  • Cuts or wounds taking longer to heal
  • Blurred vision

A plant extract has also been shown to lower blood sugar. 

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