Can Beans and Rice Work in Your Diabetes Diet?
Rice has long been vilified as a food to avoid for people living with diabetes, but what about the popular dish of beans and rice? Here’s what new research says.
THURSDAY, April 12, 2012 — White rice and anything made with white flour are big diabetes diet “don’ts.” Multiple studies have shown that as you digest these “white” foods, your body essentially treats them like sugar, which can cause a blood-sugar spike in patients with the disease and also increase a person’s risk for developing diabetes. (Rice consumption is one reason diabetes rates are high among Asian populations.) Beans, meanwhile, are a complex starch that’s thought to be a healthy component to most diets. Beans are high in fiber and protein, and contain essential nutrients, such as iron, zinc, and folate, as well as a compound that can inhibit the blood’s ability to absorb sugar.
So when you combine the good and the bad, does it add up to a diabetes-friendly dish? That’s the question researchers at the Oregon Health and Science University posed in their recent study published in Nutrition Journal as part of an effort to help tailor diabetes care to cultural groups. After examining the blood glucose levels of adults with type 2 diabetes who consumed either pinto beans and white, long grain rice, black beans and white, long grain rice, red kidney beans and white, long grain rice or white, long grain rice alone, researchers found that the pairing of any type of beans with rice can help stop unhealthy blood sugar spikes.
In the trial, blood glucose levels were significantly lower for the three bean and rice groups compared to the rice-only group after 90, 120, and 150 minutes. Because beans and rice are a popular food combination in the Caribbean, Latin America, the Middle East, and the Mediterranean, researchers believe this new finding can help people living with type 2 diabetes in those cultures adhere to a diet that will help them better manage their diabetes or decrease theirdisease risk.
“As healthcare practitioners, it is vital that we are culturally competent and sensitive to the needs of others who are different from us,” researchers wrote in the study abstract. “Dietary recommendations, materials and counseling should be culturally sensitive andtake into account valued traditional foods such as beans, especially when the scientific evidence supports their beneficial role in the diet.”