To those with Type 2 diabetes, packing more legumes into the diet (including beans, chickpeas, and lentils) may be an easy way to improve glycemic control (or, better manage blood-sugar levels) while also lowering heart-disease risk, finds a new Archives of Internal Medicine study.

When 121 patients with Type 2 diabetes ate either a low-GI diet including at least one cup daily of beans or a diet rich in whole wheat products for three months, those on the bean-filled diet were better able to control their blood sugar.

“In conclusion, legume consumption of approximately 190 g per day (1 cup) seems to contribute usefully to a low-GI diet and reduce coronary heart disease risk through a reduction in blood pressure,” said lead study author David Jenkins, MD, of the University of Toronto, in a statement.

“Support for the continued use of such foods in traditional bean-eating communities, together with their reintroduction into the Western diet, could therefore be justified even if the effect on glycemia is relatively small,” said researchers in a statement.

Beans are high in protein, which tends to help lower blood pressure, and also high in fiber, which plays a role in lowering cholesterol.

It’s important to note that the study was partially funded by a legume-farmers association.

Easy ways to incorporate beans into your meals include snacking on bean dip, making hummus with chickpeas, or tomato and bean burritos, or tossing beans into salads, and stewing hearty bean soup or chili.

According to the study background, foods with a low glycemic index (GI) have been linked to better blood-sugar control in people who have Type 2 diabetes. For that reason, low-GI foods are recommended in several national guidelines for people living with the disease.

The Glycemic Index ranks foods according to how fast they raise blood-sugar levels. Low-GI foods have a GI of 55 or less, according to the American Diabetes Association.

Other examples of low-GI foods (55 or less), according to the ADA, include:

  • Barley
  • Butter/lima beans
  • Carrots
  • Corn
  • Most fruits and non-starchy veggies
  • Oatmeal
  • Pasta
  • Peas
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Yams

What are more tasty ways You get beans into your meals?