Beans Help Protect Blood Glucose Levels

The glycemic index (GI) is a value assigned to a food based on how slowly or quickly it causes blood glucose levels to rise. Foods with a high GI, which includes many refined grains and processed carbs, can quickly dump glucose into the blood, causing levels to spike. Over time, eating too much of these foods may raise risk for diabetes and heart disease. But not all carbohydrates are created equal. The type of carbohydrate in beans is slowly digested, resulting in a more gradual rise in blood glucose levels. This slow and steady influx of glucose into the bloodstream is associated with lower risk for chronic disease and may help with weight loss.

New research from investigators at three universities shows that eating beans can even counter some of the harmful effects of high-GI foods in a meal. The researchers found that adding beans to a meal that contains refined grains affected the overall GI of the whole meal. Eating beans plus white rice (which has a high GI) produced a much smaller glucose response compared to eating the rice alone. The response was smaller right after the meal and also for the following two hours. So the next time you want to enjoy white rice or some other type of refined grain, be sure to also include beans in your meal.