A Simple Swap That Could Help Manage Your Blood Sugar

Elevate Your Starch Recipes with Lentils

Are potatoes and rice staples at your dinner table? If so, you can easily revamp your go-to starch dishes by replacing half the rice or potatoes with lentils to boost your nutrition and add more variety to your meals. According to new research from the University of Guelph, this one small change could aid in the management of blood sugar levels and potentially reduce the risk of type II diabetes. Replacing 50% of the available carbohydrates from high-glycemic-index (GI) foods (i.e. those that spike blood sugar levels quickly following consumption) with lentils could significantly lower blood sugar levels in healthy adults.

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The Study

In this study, two different groups of 24 healthy, non-diabetic participants 18 to 40 years of age were randomly assigned to one of eight treatments: white rice only, white potato only, white rice with lentils (large green lentils, small green lentils or split red lentils) or white potato with one of the three varieties of lentils. The participants fasted 10 to 12 hours and followed strict instructions like avoiding alcohol and eating the same dinner prior to each visit. Researchers collected blood samples at fasting as well as different time intervals following the first bite of the treatment food they were given.

The strengths of this study include the randomized crossover design and power analysis to determine the number of participants needed to find a significant outcome. It could be valuable to further investigate this relationship including individuals with body mass indexes (BMI) over 30 kg/m2 in the sample, as this demographic was not studied here.

What the Samples Revealed

Blood sugar levels following the isolated rice and potato treatments showed similar patterns of increase, while the mixed lentil and rice treatment showed a significantly lower blood sugar pattern following consumption and similar results were found for the mixed lentil and potato treatment. There was no significant difference between the lentil varieties, with all three types resulting in the same glycemic response. Insulin levels were reduced as well when subjects ate potato combined with lentils. 

Pulses, such as lentils, can slow digestion and the release of sugars found in starch into the bloodstream, ultimately reducing blood glucose levels.
— Alison Duncan, Ph.D., R.D.
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Recipes to Get You Started

Canada is a huge supplier of pulses, so eating more lentils not only benefits your health but also the Canadian agricultural industry - talk about a win-win! To get more of these little gems on your plate, try some of these recipes:

Mujadara with Toasted Pistachios

Brown Rice & Lentils

Curried Lentils, Sweet Potato and Cauliflower

Quinoa and Lentil Pilaf


  • Rance-Unger, L. (2018, July 04). Nutrient-dense lentils significantly reduce blood glucose levels: Study. Retrieved from https://www.foodincanada.com/food-in-canada/nutrient-dense-lentils-significantly-reduce-blood-glucose-levels-study-139879/

  • Moravek, D., Duncan, A. M., Vandersluis, L. B., Turkstra, S. J., Rogers, E. J., Wilson, J. M., . . . Ramdath, D. D. (2018). Carbohydrate Replacement of Rice or Potato with Lentils Reduces the Postprandial Glycemic Response in Healthy Adults in an Acute, Randomized, Crossover Trial. The Journal of Nutrition, 148(4), 535-541. doi:10.1093/jn/nxy018

Ryan Stallard