If you ask us, lentils don't get nearly enough love in the food world. Inexpensive, versatile, and most importantly, tasty, lentils have a lot to offer us that we're missing out on. But we have a hunch that some exciting new research will give us all a whole new appreciation for the humble legume — and a new reason to add it to our dinner plates tonight.
The June 2018 study published in The Journal of Nutrition found that replacing rice or potatoes with lentils can significantly lower your blood sugar levels. If you adore the classic carbs, fear not: You don't need to completely eliminate the starches from your meal to see the effect. Researchers instructed 24 healthy adults to eat dishes with only rice or potatoes, as well as dishes with a half serving of starch and a half serving of lentils. They measured the participants' blood-sugar levels afterward.
As it turns out, swapping just half a serving of rice with lentils can cause your blood sugar to drop by up to 20 percent. Meanwhile, replacing half a serving of potatoes with lentils can lead to a 35 percent drop. It's worth noting that the results held up for three different types of lentils: large green, small green, and split red.
"We mixed the lentils in with the potatoes and rice because people don't typically eat pulses on their own, but rather consume them in combination with other starches as part of a larger meal, so we wanted the results to reflect that," said researcher Alison Duncan, PhD, in a press release.
Researchers said the reason why lentils can help lower blood sugar has to do with their ability to slow digestion. If lentils slow digestion, they also slow the release of sugars found in starch — like potatoes or rice — into the bloodstream. It's pretty exciting that they can help our body's response to our beloved carbs, especially if we don't want to totally give them up.
"This slower absorption means you don't experience a spike in glucose," said Dr. Duncan. "Having high levels over a period of time can lead to mismanagement of blood glucose, which is the hallmark of type 2 diabetes. Essentially, eating lentils can lower that risk."
Sounds like a dream side dish to us!
Next, learn about the tastiest superfoods that can help you live longer: