A diabetes diet requires a lot of care and discipline. It is not only about cutting out high-sugar and processed foods but also about consuming the right fruits, veggies and other food items. Furthermore, diabetics have to take care to avoid other health problems that they may be more prone to (including obesity, high blood pressure and heart disease). Hence, they need to often have low-calorie and nutrient-rich foods that can help keep their weight in check while maintaining heart health. Wondering what ticks all of these boxes? Good news: it is not a fancy food that you have to spend exorbitant amounts on. It is actually good old legumes!
Also Read: Intermittent Fasting - Is It Effective For Diabetes? Expert Reveals
Why Are Legumes Good For Diabetes?
Legumes are prominently featured in traditional delicacies throughout India. They are of different types, and chances are, one kind or another would be found in your kitchen right now. Here's how legumes can help diabetics:
- Most of them have a low glycemic index. This implies that consuming legumes can prevent unwanted spikes in blood sugar levels.
- Legumes are an excellent source of plant-based protein. They promote satiety and keep cravings at bay. Since they can aid with weight management, they also help deal with an issue that is often associated with diabetes.
- Legumes are rich in fibre that can help control levels of blood glucose in a natural manner.
- Many types of legumes contain potassium as well as other minerals that are considered beneficial for diabetics.
- They also help reduce levels of bad cholesterol and reduce the risk of cardiovascular problems.
These benefits are, of course, dependent on how they are consumed. Adding too much oil and salt to the preparation of legumes increases the calorie count as well as sodium intake - both of which may pose fresh problems for diabetics. Hence, it is important to cook them correctly to take maximum advantage. We have provided a few suggestions below.
Which Legumes Should Diabetics Eat?
Nearly all legumes are good for diabetics, provided they are consumed in moderation and as part of a balanced diet. Here are the three main subcategories you should consider:
This includes all of the traditional dals such as toor dal (yellow split pigeon peas), chana dal (Split Bengal gram), urad dal (split black gram), moong dal (yellow lentil), green moong (green gram/ mung beans) and masoor dal (red lentil).
Indians would be familiar with red kidney beans (rajma), black-eyed beans (lobia or chawli), moth beans (matki), black beans and others. Chickpeas are also known as garbanzo beans in English and as channa/chhole in Hindi.
One of the most common types in India is green peas (matar) and white peas (vatana). Peanuts and cashews are also technically members of the pea family, although we think of them as nuts.
It is recommended to boil and cool legumes like chickpeas and kidney beans for a few hours before their consumption. This allows them to form resistant starch and also lowers the glycemic index.
Here Are 5 Easy And Healthy Ways To Consume Legumes On A Diabetes Diet:
1. As a chaat:
Cooked chickpeas, kidney beans, green moong and peas are great ingredients for making yummy chaats. While traditional recipes often include potatoes in chaat, diabetics should consider skipping it or replacing it with a smaller quantity of sweet potatoes (which can have a lower GI). Also, take care not to add too much salt and/ or chaat masala to keep sodium content under control. Here's an easy recipe to get started.
2. As a part of salads:
We often top our salads with some form of protein: paneer, tofu, chicken, egg, etc. So why not opt for legumes as well? Beans and lentils can provide a different texture to your salad while increasing its overall nutritional value. Here's a chickpea-spinach salad recipe to inspire you. If you like moong dal, we recommend a traditional Kosambari salad. Click here for the recipe.
3. In the form of idlis and dosas:
The batter for regular idli and dosa is made using white rice and urad dal. But you can also use other lentils as the base. For instance, moong dal and masoor dal can be used to make high-protein idlis and dosas. Not only are they richer in fibre and nutrients, but they also taste delicious. Click here for the idli recipes.
4. As dal and khichdi preparations:
The Indian lentils we mentioned above are widely used for making dal dishes, which are then paired with rice or rotis. As discussed earlier, by keeping the use of oil and salt to a minimum, these traditional delicacies can be safely added to a diabetes diet. You can eat them with multigrain or millet chapatis/ bhakris for added benefits. Another popular way to enjoy dal is in the form of khichdi. Click here for a few diabetic-friendly recipes.
5. Use them to make soups:
Dal soups are soothing and wholesome, especially when the weather turns cooler. Since they have a lentil base, they don't need cream or cornstarch (which are not always good for diabetics). Here's a recipe for a kala chana soup that you will surely relish.
Apart from these options, you can also use legumes as the base for tikkis, cutlets and other delicious homemade snacks. You can bake or shallow-fry them; deep-frying should definitely be avoided. However, as their relative calorie content and GI are generally higher, they may not be suitable for all diabetics. It is best to consult your doctor before adding such snacks to your diet.
Also Read: Fruit Juices For Diabetics: Yes Or No? Here Are 3 Key Takeaways
Disclaimer: This content including advice provides generic information only. It is in no way a substitute for qualified medical opinion. Always consult a specialist or your own doctor for more information. NDTV does not claim responsibility for this information.
About Toshita SahniToshita is fuelled by wordplay, wanderlust, wonderment and Alliteration. When she is not blissfully contemplating her next meal, she enjoys reading novels and roaming around the city.