Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Goodness of lentils, legumes: dal-rich foods like idli, vada, dosa and uthappa help to control fasting blood sugar and diabetes

Syed Akbar
Hyderabad: Including dal-rich foods such as like idli, vada, dosa and uthappa in one’s daily diet helps to control blood sugar and diabetes.

This was a finding of a multi-city research study conducted by the Public Health Foundation of India, South Asia Network for Chronic Disease, and Centre for Chronic Disease Control. Some 6,819 people in Hyderabad, Nagpur, Lucknow and Bengaluru were part of the trial.

“Lentils, beans and peas influence blood sugar and lower it. Chana dal has the strongest effect on fasting blood glucose. The way the lentils are prepared, though, is important. Idli, dosa, vada etc. are good, but their influence is highly reduced if they are cooked in vegetables,” says Dr Preet Dhillon of the South Asia Network for Chronic Disease.

Fried lentils in namkeen and dals used to make sweets also don’t have the desired impact.

“Our results have shown that food items that contain predominantly lentils help a lot,” Dr Dhillon said.
Legumes also lower the risk of cardiovascular disease because they contain soluble fibres and alpha glucosidase inhibitors, which slow absorption and lower glycemic index. They, however, have no impact on insulin resistance.

“Legume consumption is positively associated with fasting blood glucose and diabetes, but not with insulin resistance,” Dr Dhillon said, adding that in India, where high diabetes rates prevail, adding legumes to the diet is beneficial, but the method of preparation is crucial.

India has the worst stunting and iron deficiency in the world and the largest number of people with diabetes. This shows a failure on the nutrition front.

Trade and agriculture policies have changed our diets, encouraging overconsumption of unhealthy foods and under-consumption of healthy foods, nutritionists say.

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Syed Akbar at the 11th Conference of Parties to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity