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Beans can unlock better blood sugar control


rbeansDespite being a starch or carbohydrate, dried beans and lentils are a healthy addition to the diet of people living with diabetes. Unlike a dinner roll, beans pack a one-two punch – fiber and protein – that may help control blood sugar.

The American Diabetes Association (ADA) highly recommends bean dishes. “Whether you prefer kidney, pinto, navy or black beans, you can’t find better nutrition than that provided by beans,” the ADA says. “They are very high in fiber giving you about 1/3 of your daily requirement in just a ½ cup and are also good sources of magnesium, and potassium. “They are considered starchy vegetables but a ½ cup provides as much protein as an ounce of meat without the saturated fat.”

If you cook with canned beans, the ADA recommends draining and rinsing the beans to get rid of as much sodium as possible.

Unlike regular starchy food, fiber-rich food is handled differently when digested. Part of the fiber passes through the digestive system intact. This difference means that eating foods rich in fiber is less likely to cause a spike in high blood sugar.

The second advantage is the fact that beans are a rich source of protein. A cup of beans, like the ones pictured, contains about 16 grams of protein, the same as 2 ounces of meat or chicken. Beans also contain no cholesterol and no more than 1 gram of fat – never saturated!

Here are some tips for preparing dried beans:

  • Eliminate some of the intestinal distress by soaking the beans before cooking. Recommended techniques include soaking in plain water or putting a 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar, lemon juice or liquid whey. Soak them overnight or as long as you can and rinse off anything that raises to the top of the water.
  • Season with apple cider vinegar instead of hot sauce to control both spicy burn and added salt.
  • Make your beans a “complete protein” source by complementing them with, for example, low-fat ham, turkey sausage or brown rice.
  • Add lentils to soups and salads to make those dishes more hearty and filling.

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