Beans & legumes in diabetes reversal
A quick low-down on beans & legumes. I’m curious to know if you eat them? For many they can be a great source of nutrition yet there is a lot of disagreement on their benefits in the nutrition world.
Beans & Legumes – a quick low-down
Because of all of the recent data on low carb high fat diets to reverse diabetes and promote weight loss I have been intrigued by the omission of the mention of beans and legumes by many who are vocal in this area. This is largely because of the carbohydrate content and the fact that meat and dairy are back ‘in vogue’. For some the jury seems to have gone out again on this important nutrition source.
Historically there has been some great studies particularly by Dr Neal Barnard who is a huge advocate of plant based diets (vegan) and he recommends eating a limitless amount of beans & legumes. However as well as the obvious elimination of meat, fish, dairy, cheese and eggs he also recommends eliminating all bread, sugar, potatoes and vegetable oil as well as keeping avocados to a minimum. To some this seems like a restrictive diet but there are still lots of great foods that are allowed and he has great success rates when it comes to diabetes reversal. To be transparent I have tried this way of eating but I especially missed eggs and I think quality free range eggs are a great source of nutrition (my favourite fast food!) .
I am a fan of the ‘real-deal’ traditional Mediterranean diet which does include a great variety of beans in reasonable amounts. It does not include much bread, pasta, pizza or potatoes as some would like to think. It also includes plenty of healthy fats. This is where for me Dr Barnard’s diet is somewhat lacking; it is a very low fat diet and there is so much compelling evidence that good fats are heart healthy and anti-inflammatory both important health markers in diabetes.
I have listened to some interesting debates on the topic of beans and here is what I have deduced form everything I have heard, the good and the not so good:
They are an excellent source of protein
They are brim full of antioxidants, vitamins and nutrition
They are low GL releasing sugars slowly
They are a high quality fibre
They are associated with heart health and have anti-cancer benefits
They can help in blood sugar control
They contain a significant amount of carbohydrate and some people are very sensitive to this claiming that it raises their blood sugar.
For people with gut issues or irritable bowel they can cause significant digestive issues
Soy beans contain phytoestrogens which are considered unhealthy by some (thought fermented soy sauce is considered good)
Peanuts are a legume that should be avoided due to mould
If you want to eat an exclusively plant based diet then beans and legumes must be an important part of your diet. However it is important to remember that they do contain some carbohydrates so be mindful of extra carbs you may be consuming with your meal. That said I think they are the preferred source of starch for most people and extra carbs are often not even necessary. Like all foods they must be part of a balanced diet and it is still essential to eat 5 -7 portions of vegetables every day.