You might have heard that lentils and beans are considered a diabetic superfood, but what makes these legumes so promising? Here’s a breakdown of why you should be eating more beans and lentils and some simple ways to incorporate them into your daily diet.

Beans

Dried beans offer high-quality carbohydrates, lean protein, and soluble fiber. They help stabilize blood sugar levels while keeping your hunger in check. Because they are inexpensive, versatile, and have a long shelf life, beans are a great addition to any meal.

They are considered a low glycemic index food, meaning they are digested slowly and raise blood sugar slowly. Research has shown that eating beans several times a week may also lower blood pressure along with blood sugar levels.

Dried beans make a perfect kitchen staple, but they need to be soaked before cooking. Many varieties of canned beans are packed in salt and water. It’s important to rinse and drain them before using. If possible, look for the low- or reduced-sodium options.

Two great recipes that include beans

Beans and chocolate may sound odd to most, but these Black Bean Brownies have less than six carbs per serving and make for a healthier dessert option.

You can't eat beans without thinking about chili. This Kickin’ Hot Chili is spicy and full of red kidney beans and ground beef.

Lentils

Lentils have slightly higher protein numbers and typically have slightly fewer carbohydrates than beans. They are rich in fiber and contain a significant amount of magnesium. Magnesium is known to improve blood and oxygen flow, leading to a lower risk of heart problems. Because they are a complex carbohydrate, they help stabilize blood sugar levels.

With more than 50 grams of protein in one cup, lentils have a higher level of protein than soybeans. Like beans, lentils are inexpensive and make a great kitchen staple. Unlike beans, they don't require soaking and have a quicker preparation time.

Two great recipes that include lentils

A lentil burger with almonds tastes great with mustard and a whole-grain bun.

Lentils are commonly used in soups, and this Moroccan lentil soup can be cooked in the slow cooker and made ahead of time in large batches and frozen.

How much should you eat?

The American Diabetes Association recommends trying to include dried beans and lentils into several meals per week. “About one-fourth of your plate should come from starchy foods. This is usually about three-quarters to one cup of starchy food,” says the ADA.

What's your favorite bean or lentil recipe? Share in the comments below.

To learn more on this topic:
Diabetic Superfoods
Why Avocado is a Good-For-You Superfood
Are Chia Seeds the Next Diabetes Superfood?