Pulses – Another Made-In-Canada Diabetes Innovation New Research Shows How Eating Pulses Aids in Blood Sugar Control

November 14, 2011 (WINNIPEG) – Canada has been a leader in the fight against diabetes since Sir Frederick Banting co-discovered insulin along with Canadians Dr. Charles Best and James Collip in 1921. Since then, research has focused on ways to manage the disease, including dietary strategies that can help with blood sugar control.

“Pulses (beans, peas, lentils and chickpeas) are a good food choice for people with diabetes because they contain carbohydrates that are slowly digested and do not cause a fast rise in blood sugar,” says Dr. Julianne Curran, PhD., Director of Nutrition, Science & Regulatory Affairs with Pulse Canada. “In addition to being high in fibre and complex carbohydrates, pulses are also a good source of protein, are low in fat, saturated fat and sodium, and contain no cholesterol or trans fats.” New research has found that adding pulses like lentils and chickpeas to a meal can improve blood sugar control. Researchers at the University of Toronto looked at whether eating pulses in combination with a high glycemic index (GI) food like pasta would result in lower blood sugar levels after the meal. The results showed that blood sugar levels increased at a slower rate when subjects ate macaroni with pulses compared to macaroni with cheese. Blood sugar control is critical to the prevention of long-term complications such as heart disease, nerve damage and kidney disease. For people with pre-diabetes, managing blood glucose levels can prevent a future diagnosis of Type 2 diabetes.

“In this study, we also looked at whether eating pulses at one meal would affect blood sugar responses to the next meal that study participants consumed. The results showed that this was indeed the case,” says Dr. Rebecca Mollard, lead investigator of the study. “Our findings support the recommendation to include pulses in the diet to improve blood sugar control,” says Dr. Mollard.

Diabetes is a chronic disease in which the body either cannot produce insulin or cannot properly use the insulin it produces. This leads to high levels of glucose in the blood, which can damage organs, blood vessels and nerves.

3 million Canadians are currently living with diabetes. It is also estimated that 6 million people live with pre-diabetes, a condition where a person’s blood glucose levels are higher than normal, but not yet high enough to be diagnosed as type 2 diabetes.

Pulses are another made-in-Canada innovation that can help in the management of diabetes. For great tasting pulse recipes, visit

Pulse Canada is the national association representing growers, traders and processors of Canadian pulse crops. Canada is the world’s largest supplier of pulses, with annual exports reaching more than 150 countries.


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